A day on the ward…

My room is pitch dark when i wake up a little after 6 in the morning to get ready for my day shift at work. I live in a 6 berth cabin on the third deck in the middle so there are no outside windows. I remember the first night I saw my cabin incredulously thinking, “This is ALL the personal space I have?? How am I supposed to fit all my stuff on 2 tiny shelves and half of a little closet?” Now, a month later, it doesn’t seem like an issue anymore and my stuff actually fits just fine with some expert maneuvering. 
I eat breakfast quickly with other day shift nurse friends and we walk down a couple flights of stairs back to the third deck which is also home to the operating theaters and all the wards. I work on D ward which is home to the post op maxillofacial patients. The surgeries that they have had include things like cleft lip/palate repairs, facial tumor removals, maxillectomy and mandilectomies, etc. Most of us on this ward are either pediatric or adult ICU nurses because of the higher potential for there to be complications involving the airway after these specific surgeries. 
At the beginning of each shift the oncoming and offgoing shifts (both nurses and Malagasy day workers, and sometimes some curious patients!) meet together for any updates and a brief time of prayer for the day and upcoming admissions or surgeries. Then our day starts. The ward feels so different than what I am used to at home with all the patient beds right next to each other in one room, caregivers and younger siblings sleeping on mattresses under the patient beds and generally people all over the place and lots of activity going on all the time! At first it felt kind of chaotic and stressful for me but I’m getting used to running into people and hearing constant chatter from babies playing and parents conversing with each other or with the day crew. 
Yesterday was the first day that I had a little extra time during my shift to be able to play with my patients between nursing tasks. One of my patients, a twelve year old girl who had gotten a cleft palate repair, wanted me to paint her nails. Ten nail polish colors later (each finger was a different color!) she was finally satisfied with her results. We also had a little hair washing/head massage session after taking out her NG tube since she had not had her hair washed or brushed since her surgery 5 days previously. The rest of the day she proceeded to be my new best friend and follow me around the unit with her arm around my waist and communicating through random grunts and hand gestures. (Surprisingly effective when you don’t speak each other’s languages!) 
Every afternoon between day and evening shifts we take all the patients who are able to get out of bed up to Deck 7 outside. There is lots of room for children to ride tricycles around, a basketball hoop, tables to play jenga and board games and lots of times an impromptu concert with guitars and drums. There is a beautiful view of the ocean off the deck and a salty tasting breeze and it feels refreshing to be able to focus on playing and relationships without having nursing responsibilities for that one hour every afternoon. Today one of the second officers on the ship even took a couple of the nurses and patients on a tour of the ship bridge where all the control panels are. My new little friend had quite a blast and there were lots of giggles. 
As I was leaving the ward, I told her I would stop by the next morning to say goodbye before she gets discharged to the HOPE (Hospital outpatient extension) center tomorrow. Patients get to stay there between being discharged from the hospital and follow up outpatient appointments since many of them live more than a couple days drive away. I got one more big hug and squinty eyed smile as I walked out the door. 
D ward nurses! 

Exploring a local town. 

Yes, we do have a Starbucks on the ship. Coffee and tea breaks are taken very seriously. 

2 thoughts on “A day on the ward…

  1. It was a real treat to read about what an typical day on the ship is like. I’m praying that the Lord continues to give you opportunities to share the love of Christ with those whom you serve and work.


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