It's funny, really, that I thought moving to D Ward would get me further away from the VVF ladies. Like I said, it's not that I dislike them or anything, it's just that I'm not the best at caring for them; little people are more my thing. So just imagine my surprise when the sheet of paper on my desk this morning listed sixteen of those women, all crammed into C Ward, the little-used ten-bed ward which also falls under the domain of the D Ward charge nurse. Sixteen, plus a caregiver and two babies; the ladies were sleeping in the AFM version of bunk beds, one on top, another on the mattress underneath.
The first thing you notice when you walk onto a ward full of pre-operative VVF women isn't that the place is inevitably overflowing with bags and blue pads and bathrobes. It's the smell. It hits you a little like a slap in the face, the stale urine flowing from broken ones, and it's impossible not to notice it. But there's more; there's always so much more when it comes to these women.
I waltzed through the room with a bucket of toothbrushes and couple of tubes of toothpaste and was greeted with smiles and handshakes and a shy arm around my waist as I passed between the beds. I checked name badges and made notes of surgery dates, realizing with a thrill of joy that every woman in the ward had been scheduled. In talking with the coordinator later, I learned that all but three or four of the women who came to screening yesterday received a date for surgery.
Fifty-five women were scheduled. It seemed crazy to us when we prayed it, but we've been asking God to send only the ladies who needed surgery to us. And that's exactly what He did. So when I wandered through C Ward, all I saw was hope. Not a single downcast face, just pure, unadulterated hope shining from their eyes as they held out their hands for a toothbrush.
We make such a big deal about the VVF ladies around here, praying and planning and waiting for their arrival. We use dedicated nurses and a dedicated ward and everything about their care is specialized. Which, at the end of the day, makes so much sense to me.
These women have been given nothing by the world. They have spent, some of them, entire lifetimes shut out of society, unable to go out in public because of the telltale wetness they leave behind. They have been devastated in every sense of the word. And then they come to us, and we sing them welcome, providing soft mattresses and loving arms to help them into bed. We look them in their eyes and tell them of Love, and they respond with the joy I saw this morning when I handed out toothbrushes.