I’ve basically been swamped this fall semester despite not having to be in Charlotte on the weekends for class. Mason & I are both enrolled in CPE (Clinical Pastoral Education) through Palmetto Health as part of our requirements for school and it’s taking up a lot of time. I’ve cut back my hours at USC this fall to 30/week in order to fit CPE into my schedule, so while I’ve been working 4 days a week I’m still essentially doing 5 days worth of work. Needless to say, I’m racking up some major comp time hours!
CPE started on August 9th and ends in the middle of December. I go to Palmetto Health Baptist on Mondays and Mason goes to Palmetto Health Richland on Tuesdays. We spend all day there in education, group process and clinical rotations. We both each have 5 On Call nights at our respective hospitals over the 4 months, so we are the Chaplains on call for the nights that we serve. I must say, I got the easier end of the hospital assignment deal! For those that don’t know, PH Richland is the state’s Level 1 Trauma Center, meaning that every trauma ends up in Richland. When you are Chaplain on call you are paged to every trauma that comes in and you have to respond within 10 minutes to every page. As a trauma chaplain your job is to be the liaison between the doctors and the families as well as care for the staff, too. Let’s just say that God put the calmer half of this marriage at Richland and the higher anxiety half at Baptist – right where we both needed to be!
My clinical assignment areas for my hospital days are General Surgery and NICU. I like to think of General Surgery as Forest Gump did life, “It’s like a box of chocolates, you never know what you’re going to get.” I specifically chose this area because of my anxieties in the areas of “unknown.” To put it plainly, I hate the unknown! I’ve met some pretty interesting patients with pretty interesting situations through general surgery and it’s been very trying and also kind of rewarding to me, too. I chose NICU because I wanted to be pushed out of my comfort zone even more. I mean, who can stand the thought of a little infant suffering. I had no idea that a child could be born so young (some as young as 25 weeks) and still have a strong, fighting chance of survival. I marvel at God’s creation & healing powers every time I step into the unit. I love to spend time with the babies and I have great conversations with them. The challenging part is working with the parents. The staff is amazing in the Baptist NICU, and the more time I spend in “babyland,” the more I’m pretty certain that I will choose Baptist as my hospital when we have kids. That and I’ve now got chaplain friend there & a dear friend in Anesthesia.
We all know that God has a really funny sense of humor, right? Well, God just about broke me during my first on call. I was paged at 1:54 AM to a death on the 8th floor. Now, I’ve never been present just after someone passes, so the idea of a death page totally freaked me out. The fact that it was my very FIRST ever page as an on call chaplain made it worse. And the unit about undid me. The page was to Oncology. It ended up being a truly beautiful visit with a wife who had just lost her husband, but wow…I couldn’t sleep at all after that night and I so badly wanted to check in on her in the days following my morning with her. It was tough, and it made my second on call experience very tough, but they’ve gotten a bit easier and I’m grateful for that experience. (Never thought I’d be saying that about a death, really.)
So, that’s what we’ve been up to lately…
I know that it doesn’t sound like much, but we’ve also both had to turn in lots of Verbatims (reports of our visits) and preach at our respective hospital Chapels as well as give book reports on readings this course. We also have to complete an additional 12 hours a week of pastoral care outside of the hospital. Needless to say, we’ve been busy and we’ll both more than complete the 400 hours of work required by the seminary to receive course credit.
This semester ends in the middle of December, then we start back in Charlotte in the Spring for our last round of classes. I received the email today from Union about Graduation details! It’s right around the corner this spring and we’re so excited we just can’t stand it. Senior-itis has definitely kicked in! We need to survive our last three (3) courses in order to make it to graduation, though. Be in prayer for us as this semester wraps up and next one begins. We need to hunker down and FOCUS! 🙂
That’s what’s been going on…I’ll have more to update later about past trips & what’s ahead for us. Thanks for being patient and not completely giving up on me. I’ll try to be better…promise.