Make a Joyful Noise, page 3
by Patty Bell
The families of the patients stayed in the room 24/7. They took care of all of the patients' personal needs, emptying bedpans and providing home cooked meals if possible. The hospital fed both the patients and the families if they were unable to find food. Family members would sleep in sleeping bags or on flattened cardboard at the patient's bedside. I have never seen so much devotion.
In the morning I could hear singing in the shower. It was difficult to comprehend how one could sing during these difficult times. Of all my patients, only one still had a house. My translator lost his entire family and his house. He just happened to be visiting a friend next door.
Patty Bell and patient: "I love you like a mother."
One of my patients lost her house, but her sister and parents were still alive. She was just about finished with nursing school in Laogone. The school is destroyed. This particular patient was very sick. We were trying desperately to save her leg but we finally lost. When she got back from surgery, I was scurrying around taking her vital signs and hanging IV antibiotics for her. Her sister and a male cousin stood at her bedside with their eyes closed, holding hands and singing the most beautiful religious songs in Creole.
I tried hard not to make any noise, but my tears were dropping on the pillow. My patient reached up and grabbed my hand to comfort me. After the songs and prayers, she looked at me and said, "I love you as a mother". It was the first time that she spoke any English around me.
I still choke up thinking of that afternoon and of the many other events that took place. But, in my mind, I hear the songs at the bedside, the songs in the shower and the songs of the women carrying large bags of food on their heads. These are times that could shake the very foundation of one's faith. And yet, it's hope and praise that I hear in their voices—a joyful noise. ✙