Definitely A Good Day

My first reaction was to feel repulsed: her skin as pockmarked, her clothing soiled and her hair a strange color of orange with black roots

By Jenny Haidel, RN
St. Francis Hospital

Holly came to the emergency department complaining of an infection in her throat. My first reaction was to feel repulsed: her skin was pockmarked, her clothing soiled and her hair a strange color of orange with black roots. She wore a tight blouse and an extremely short skirt. Deep down inside, I thought she was dirty and disgusting. Holly told me that she was a prostitute.

I was still a fairly new nurse. I tried to find an IV access point, but Holly’s veins were long gone, ravaged by years of heroin and other drug use. Through each poke of a needle, Holly remained cheerful. Still trying to find a good vein, I remove Holly’s thick silver bracelet and set it down on the gurney. After several more attempts, I was able to draw blood and administer antibiotics.

The whole process took quite a while, and I had come to know Holly better as we talked. My first judgment of her gradually melted into sorrow and compassion. I began to consider what her journey in life might have been like: her joys, her sorrows. I came to know her as a generous, friendly and patient woman.

Holly was move from the gurney to a chair in the hallway to await her results. A menacing-looking man joined her. They appeared to argue and she started crying. The man left, and I sat next to her in the hallway, explaining her discharge papers.

Suddenly, she realized that she was not wearing her bracelet. “Oh no, I need to find that bracelet! That was real silver!” she said. My face hot, I raced to the room where she had been, and searched the gurney and the bedding. No bracelet. When I told Holly that I couldn’t find it, she started crying again. She told me that the bracelet was one of the only valuable things she owned.

In that instant, I prayed that God would help me find it. I went into the soiled linen room and faced a mountain of bags full of dirty linen. I prayed for God to guide me. Thankfully, I found Holly’s bracelet.

Relieved, I returned the bracelet to Holly. Her face brightened and she hugged me. I pray that with the return of her bracelet, Holly found a special peace and joy in the presence of God, just as I had found the presence of God in Holly. Holly had given me a reminder to turn my heart away from judgment and toward humility and caring. It was definitely a good day.

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 Jenny Haidel
Jenny Haidel, RN