Labeled! Rising above the Stigma, Stereotype, and Discrimination: My life as a nurse

This is for the nurse haters! We are not who you think we are.

When I completed my High School education (We do not have any graduation for high school in my country of origin), I hoped I would secure a place in the University. However, when the results for the Secondary Certificate of Education exam came out, I had 2 points less than the required minimum for university entry. This meant that I had to apply to Middle-level colleges. This I sought to do.

With my brothers and other friends, we walked to the Divisional Office to fill the forms of application. To be honest, I did not know which path to follow except that I needed to go to college. But I knew in my heart I wanted to be and to do something unique. In my childhood and youth, I looked around and questioned some things, and determined in my heart to bring about some changes or live to proof some things wrong. One such thing was the stigma and stereotype of the nursing profession. I applied to join the nursing college knowing I would get resistance, but I was armed for it! Because I was not sure of being admitted to nursing school, I also applied to a teaching college.

One afternoon, I was resting in the house when a minister of the local Lutheran church walked in and handed some envelopes to my father. The envelopes contained the Letters of admission to the Kenya Medical Training College (KMTC), Kisii Campus. I had the admission to study nursing! The other was an invitation or rather an admission to the Meru Teacher Training College (TTC). My father grinned broadly and handed me one letter. The one for the teaching college! He was so happy, his daughter would become a teacher, the presumably noble profession. He had big dreams for me. He thought I would become a teacher and rise in rank to become the headmistress of a primary school and later a school Inspection Officer. Great thoughts, great wishes.

On the other hand, with my curious mind, I wanted to know what was in the other envelope. He casually said, “this is from KMTC. You will not go there.” I wanted to ask why, but in my culture, you do not ask your father or rather your parents why questions. That is deemed as rude and lack of respect. I just humbly requested to see the letter at least. He handed me the letter and continued with plans to take me to the TTC.

A few days after I received the admission letters, I had a little chat with my mother. I was curious to find out why my father had a low opinion of me being a nurse. As I mentioned earlier, my personality has a desire to conquer those things that are seen as odd. I wanted to learn from my mother before I could approach my father with my decision. Mom told me that nursing is not a good profession. I wanted more explanation. In her understanding, she stated at least three stereotypes that circulated in our community; one, that nurses are only wound dressers and I do not want to dress wounds all my life; two, that nurses are immoral and only become sex objects for Doctors, and lastly that they do not get married. I looked at her with amazement and decided then that I would become a nurse to prove everybody wrong.

A week after my discussion with mom, I went to my father. I also asked him if he could hear my part of the coin. I want to say that my father was a very understanding person. He took the time to explain to me the reason he did not think nursing was a good fit for me. He told me he wished for me to get married someday and keep my marriage. He wished for me to be of noble character and he feared that getting into nursing would ruin my and his reputation. I listened intently to my father’s passion for me. At the end of his explanation, he gave me the time to respond. As I responded, I reassured him that I was concerned about my reputation just as much as he did. I told him I had an obligation to God first and that my desire was to live to the moral standards outlined in the Bible. I asked him to trust I would be okay, and he did. Two weeks later I joined KMTC, Kisii Campus and began my journey of becoming a nurse.

And that is how I got labeled, not because of my personality, but because of what I chose to do!

By the way, I overcame the original stereotypes that I heard from my parents! I do not just dress wounds. I take care of complex issues in my patients. I assess and think critically and help plan their care according to individual patient needs. I delivered babies, gave immunizations, done health education, and much more. And no, I am not immoral. I am a woman of integrity and did not, cannot, will not sleep with any physician. I got married and have stayed married, now 24 years! And this is who we are.

To be continued!

 

 

 

How well do you know your Father?

A young college student went out with her friends to the grocery store. She picked up several items and headed to the check out the cashier. She put the items on the counter and the cashier scanned them in. She reached for her purse to get out her debit card but could not find it. She searched her pockets and realized she had forgotten her debit card in the dormitory. The cashier offered to put her items aside as she figured out what to do. because there were other people behind her who wanted to check out, she considered that that would be a better option. However, the student thought quickly in her mind. She had a bright idea. He face lightened and she smiled as she told the cashier, “wait a minute, let me call my dad, he will pay for me.”

She took out for her phone and dialed her father’s number. She said, “Hi dad, I am at this grocery store and I am ready to check out. I forgot my debit card, Will you pay for me? Notice she did not say, “dad, can you pay for me?”, rather “will you pay for me?” Looking at these two questions, you may not notice the difference in meaning. This young lady had a relationship with her father. She knew her father could pay, but she wanted to know if he would pay. She had the assurance that he would do anything for her, all she had to do was ask. And surely, he did pay for her. Although she was physically away from her father, she knew she could depend on him.

I have pondered over this story for some time now and I thought, Isn’t this the relationship I should have with my Heavenly Father. He says in His word in Matthew 7:7 “ask and it shall be given to you, seek and you shall find, knock and the door shall be open unto you”.  Unfortunately, most times I struggle on my own and when I am pushed against the wall then I pray. My prayer and wish are that we all learn to lean on our Father and cast all our burdens on His shoulders because He cares.

Right now, whoever you are, wherever you are and whatever the need is, pray.  Pray and wait patiently on the Lord. His promises are sure. You have His promise. Get acquainted with your Father. He loves you and cares for your needs.

Quit living to please people, start living to praise God.

According to the WHO, there are averagely 300 million people who suffer from depression in the world. About 800,000 people die from suicide annually. In fact this year, the theme for the World Healthy Day (April 7th) campaign was depression.

There are many factors associated with this illness which could be anything from genetics,  one’s environment, psychological aspects in a person’ world, difficult or catastrophic life events, or even a person’s ambitions and desires.Today, I will focus on the one area of life that we could all avoid, trying to please others or trying to live like others. I will use the story of a woman in the Bible as a classic example.

She was born in a family and culture that adored natural beauty. As soon as the midwifes saw her, they mentioned to the mother or parents that she had weak eyes! In other words, she was weary or tired. So, they named her “Leah.” She grew up knowing she was not beautiful, because she had delicate eyes. Her body physique was against her. Her culture was against her. She lived comparing herself with her sister. She was made to believe she was not worthy to be accepted or loved. She grew as a young girl and into womanhood knowing she would not be married to a handsome man. She was  sad, persistently sad. She was depressed all her life. Her name was a constant reminder that she was weary. Leah…delicate eyes.

I should have mentioned that she was the first off the two ladies in their home. As I stated earlier, the culture she lived in would not let a younger daughter to be married before the older. Therfore, Leah was married off to a man she did not love, yes, to a man who did not love her. On the first day of her ‘honeymoon’ it was evident, her struggle was real. She was ‘Leah’. She must work hard to please her husband or she would have no chance. In fact, she had no chance of being accepted or loved. Her parents had dispensed her off to allow for her sister to be married. They had to fulfill the customary conditions for the wedding of Rachel. Her now husband clearly indicated he do not care for her. She had co-wife seven days into her marriage. Leah was sad, she felt empty, unloved all the days of her life. In morden terms, she was depressed.

What I like about this lady is her determination. She wanted her marriage to work. She wanted to please her husband. She hoped he would love her. However, as it turned out, he hated her. In fact Genesis 29:31 states that God saw that Leah was not loved, that Jacob loved Rachel more than Leah. God opened her womb and she bore sons.

Leah knew too well the meaning of names. She named her sons according to her feelings. First was Reuben (the Lord has looked on my affliction). Then she had another one, Simeon (because the Lord has heard that I am unloved). Next was Levi, (she thought Jacob will now be attached to her for bearing three sons). All this time, Leah…delicate eyes… was living to beats the odds. She was craving for love. She was working to be loved. She lived to please Jacob. What a depressing situation.

Praise God that she came to her senses. When she conceived and bore another son, she quit living to please Jacob. She started to praise God. She named her fourth son Judah and proclaimed “now I will praise the Lord.” Henceforth the names of the other sons had nothing to do with Jacob. In fact, she named another Asher and said, ” now I am happy” ” the daughters will call me blessed.” She started recognizing her blessings.

I imagine she said, even though my eyes were weary, now I am strong. Oh, I forgot to mention the name of the fifth son, Gad, (I see a troop coming). Even though it was not meant to be, I got married. God has blessed me with sons. She counted her blessings one by one. Guess what? We all call her blessed. She was the great grandmother of the Lion of Judah. Isn’t it interesting that our savior is from the lineage of Leah?

Now, as you continue, I want to encourage you to just take a break in your life and praise the Lord. Yes, there may be many factors against you that cause you to be depresses. But just take a moment and praise God. Praising God will elevate your moods. As one preacher put it, ” when praises go up, blessings come down. Check out these verse, they may help.

Proverbs 23:7

Psalms 42: 4,5,11

Psalms 43:5

Hope you will find something to praise aGod about, even if it is the fact you are alive, breathing and have had the opportunity to read this blog. Sing and praise depression away. But remember to seek professional help if need be.

 

 

I Include You

I choose to include you

I sat at the airport waiting to board a plane to my homeland. There I heard the overhead announcement instructions on how to board the plane. There were two distinct lines. First boarded the people with special needs,  then the sky priority and business people, then people with young children. Next were those of the economy class were grouped into zones 1-3. For the first time since I started travelling by air, I was on the last seat of the plane! This gave me some time to reflect.

Although I recognize that this is done for maintaining order, I realized that in life we are always finding ways to divide ourselves or set social classes. While standing at the airport, I smiled and said to myself; the things that we have in common are far more than those that separate us.

These are some of the similarities:

  1. We were all on the same flight. The person on seat number one was on the same flight as myself although I was on the last seat.

2.He/she may have entered earlier and may leave earlier, but we both arrived at the same destination and the same time.

  1. We both had one captain.
  2. While aboard, we shared the same fate. If anything happened we would all have same risks.

By the way, I was sitting beside my husband but we were served by different flight attendants based on our seat numbers!

Apart from thinking about the aircraft, I thought about how in real life we are always looking for ways to separate ourselves from others. We classify each other based on skin color, gender, sexual orientation, geographical locations, how and what language we speak, our socioeconomic status, education and vocational training…..The list goes on and on and on.

With these thoughts, I beheld families with infants. I remembered with a smile that every child’s first word is “Tata” and then all children say “mama”. I realized that in essence this is what should help us to know we are one…Creatures of God born of women!. Yes. No matter how you look, feel, talk,…We have a common descent. It doesn’t matter which theory you believe…Both creationists and evolutionists state that we are human beings from a common ancestor. For me as a Christian I believe we are beings born of a woman, creatures of God.

I thought about the human body. Under the skin every person is the same. Well all have a will, we all have emotions, we all have a desire to be loved and included…every person’s blood is red!

 

Here is my resolution.

I will find ways and means to feel included and include you irrespective of what has been set to separate me from you.  When I look at you, I see a human being. I choose to include you. You may look different but you are a person. You may have different feelings or perspective, but you are a person.

 

I include you based on the fact that God has included me in His fold. I include you because we have so much in common, the reasons for including you are more than those for excluding you. We are all sinners in need of God’s grace. I want to be your neighbor, your friend, your sister, here in preparation for spending eternity with you in heaven. Would you let me?
I recognize that I have no control over your choice. However, I have made mine; I include you irrespective of your attitude.  Likewise, you can’t change my stance. So, let it be.

The danger of expecting to receive

I received the news of my mother’s demise with immense sadness. Great sorrow engulfed my heart. I was thousands of miles away from home. To console myself I imagined and believed that when I got home, my brothers and sisters would be there to meet me. I visualized how they would be waiting at the airport. I saw how I would fall on their shoulders and cry out. I thought they would take me to their houses, and there we cry together I told myself a story, and I believed it because I was thinking about myself.
I also imagined that my in-laws, my husband’s family would be there. I had lost a mother, and therefore I felt I had a right to receive mercy and consolation from everyone.
Guess what happened in reality. Nobody was waiting for me. Not a brother, nor a sister. Not any of my in-laws. The first person to approach me was a uniformed police officer. My first thought was that I was in trouble with the American clearance. I thought I had done something wrong. Honestly, my heart skipped a beat. I did not know that my brother had made arrangements for this friend to wait and receive me and that my in-law was on the way coming!
After a few phone calls, my brother in law picked me up. He took me to his house. Up to this point, I still maintained my position. I was a recipient. I waited for him to make arrangements for me to go home, which he did. I allowed myself to be in a dangerous position of being a receiver. It took me two days to get to my parents home! I was alone! I was so angry at my brothers and sisters. I was enraged towards my in-laws. I felt I had a right and thought that they violated it.
As my mother’s body was lowered into the grave, I screamed so hard. I cried because I told myself, “there go my mom and my family.” I told myself that no one cared for me anymore because no one came to receive me. But I was wrong. I still had a family.
Now before you begin to feel sorry for me, let me say that God always has a purpose for everything. He had great lessons for me to learn.From this experience, I learned that expecting to receive sets us up for great disappointments
Later as I reflected, I realized how I failed all my family. My siblings had lost their mother too. They had nothing to offer me. They were grieving just as I was. I had no right to expect any consolation from my in-laws. They have never lost a mother. They do not know how to console because they have no experience. Besides, I left my husband in the US; things would have been different if he was with me at that moment.
Now here are a few lessons from my trial.
First, it is evident in the Bible that it is more blessed to give than to receive. I would never have been disappointed if I went home with an attitude to console than to be consoled.
Secondly, in life do not expect anything from anyone. Rather seek for opportunities to give. This principle applies to any and all relationships. Love, forgive/respect, comfort, help…and do for others as you would have them do for you. You will be happier that way.
Third, be grateful for what you receive. It is a privilege but not a right.
Fourth, be careful what stories you tell yourself. Some of them would ruin your relationships. My story would have made me hate my siblings and my in-laws. I am thankful that God helped me to see the other side of the story. I wallowed in self-pity when I could have reached out to comfort my siblings.
Lastly, take the time to think through your stories. You will realize that the solutions to some of your disappointments are rooted in your understanding of other people. You may never tell what other people are going through in life. Their challenges could overwhelm you.

THE BEST THINGS IN LIFE ARE FREE

I was sitting at a  bus station when this stranger approached me and asked me a random question. “Do you think what she did was right?”. My first reaction was to get up and leave. I thought he was insane!. Before I could make any move, the man continued: I paid dowry, bought her a car, build her a big house, a dairy cow, a pick-up and hired house helps and a cow boy for her.” Then he stated, “can you imagine that she ran away with the cowboy? He sighed deeply and asked again, “madam, do you think what she did was right?”

What could you have told this man who was searching for answers? Before I answered his question, I asked him what he did for a living and whether he lived at home with his wife. His answer explained the reason for the woman’s action. Without going into details about this particular case scenario, I wish to state that the best things you could  offer somebody are the things that can not be bought or sold. True happiness is not dependent on how much one has , but is found in who one is.

For those who are married or are contemplating marriage, this is what I learnt from this man. Every woman or man is capable of acquiring ,material possessions. therefore, offer your partner love, compassion, forgiveness, understanding, respect……name all the virtues! No one resists such offers; and the more you give the more you shall receive. These are more effective than regular anti-depressants or anxiolytics.

Purpose in your heart to love extravagantly, to be patient and kind, because, if you love 10 people, they will love you back and will probably make referrals and the numbers will multiply.

One last thing…seek ye first the Kingdom of God and all shall be added unto you, (Matthew 6:33). Jesus loves you. Don’t run away with the devil, he is only a cowboy!

Experiencing Rejection

I walked into the male medical ward smiling and stretched my hand to greet this patient. He had been admitted to the ward with opportunistic infection, Pneumocystic carinii pneumonia (PCP, now called PJP).  He did not respond immediately, so, i went around and greeted the other two patients and went back to him. I held out my hand again to him then he looked at me and said, “are you sure you want to do this?” I asked him to explain what he meant by his question. He then said that he had experienced rejection from family and friends once they realized that he was HIV positive. For a long time, nobody shook hands with him! With this knowledge, i held out my hand and told him i wanted to shake hands with him and explained to him and others that we do not acquire HIV by shaking hands.

Take a moment to reflect about this experience. Are there people in your life who need a simple gesture of acceptance? Many times we think that it is only monetary things that are of great value in people’s lives. The truth is that the best things to give to people do not require financial commitments. A warm smile on your face, a kind word to a discouraged soul, or sitting in silence with a grieving person may be all that some people need. These things are available to all to freely give. Could you go out and give something to some one in need?

You could be one of the people who are feeling left out, rejected or despised. For you, i say, find your prescription in Christ. He says in His word that He will never reject you or forsake you. “Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the Lord your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you.” Deuteronomy 31: 6. God’s love is all inclusive, it knows no limits or barriers. The Lord Jesus experienced the worst kind of rejection from His friends and kindred. What is amazing is that He was rejected so that we may be accepted. “Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. Behold, all who are incensed against you shall be put to shame and confounded; those who strive against you shall be as nothing and shall perish. You shall seek those who contend with you, but you shall not find them; those who war against you shall be as nothing at all. For I, the Lord your God, hold your right hand; it is I who say to you, “Fear not, I am the one who helps you.” Isaiah 43 :10-13 (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version.)