Monday, January 4, 2010

Bad Hair Day

Being in the hospital, as a patient or as a grieving family, can wreak havoc on one's hair style. I am learning to enjoy the blessings of freely coifed hair. This is one area that gives me joy and wonder in God's reign here on earth.

The other morning, I was called to be with a family as their father/husband/cousin/neighbor was dying. He was nearing his last breaths when his wife licked her fingers and tried matting down his bed-head hair. He had been in critical care for weeks - there was no changing how his clowny-styled-hair was going to fall. His wife laughed through tears as she tried, in his final moments, to give him some measure of dignity. His kids started chuckling, too, and before we knew it, the whole room erupted in a "we aren't laughing at you, we are laughing with you" kind of way. We were all relieved for the tension that was let loose in her feeble attempt to control his hair.

Another time last week, I was making initial visits and glanced into the room to see if a patient was awake or sleeping before I entered. The aging woman's mid-length hair was - I am not kidding - sticking straight up. It was cartoon-like. I thought to myself, "I'd have to use a lot of product to get my limp hair to do that!" With a smile, I entered the room. I briefly woke her, but since she went in and out of consciousness I simply wished her peace and said a silent prayer for healing. Instead of jotting my usual scribbly reminders about my visit, I drew a sketch of her head on my notes. A few days later, I met her husband at her bedside and he explained her prognosis. She looked at me and her hair was - still - sticking straight up. I smiled, keeping this sketch image as I wondered with awe at this hairdo.

Last Monday on our second helicopter EMS trip, the crew (and I, the rider-along) landed safely at the heli-pad near our hospital. I had figured out how to swiftly unbuckle my wrap-around seatbelt without decapitating myself. I gingerly exited out the side, still wearing my ball-o-foam helmet smashed and clipped tightly to my head. I felt like an old pro as I "ducked" under the whip-whip-whip of the helicopter blades to accompany the patient and the paramedic/nurses into our emergency center. The transport-nurse was yelling something to serious-lady and chatty-buddy was running up behind with several syringes at the ready. The patient's health was declining, but on the helipad was not the time or place to try any medical care. Quickly, they rushed inside with me trailing behind just experiencing all the wind and sounds and critical energy. I followed in turn as they all unclipped their helmets and left them near the communications station on a stretcher outside.

En mass, we accompanied the seriously ill patient to a room filled with the trauma medical team. I was just starting to breath again as the paramedic/nurses were calling out the patient's situation, confirming with the doctor what was going on and what kind of care had been provided on our 10 minute flight in. The whole scene was very engaging and tragic.

Just then, I caught a glance of myself in the reflection of a window. Wow! my hair was completely - I am not kidding - wind blown and flat. All that product that I had used that morning didn't have a chance with that helmet, not to mention the wind of the helicopter before and after our pick up. Oh, well, I thought to myself. I'm having a great time. Hope my hair is, too!

Perhaps that will be the last time I make fun of someone else's bad hair day. "If you spot it, you got it!"

“And why worry about a speck in your friend’s eye when you have a log in your own? How can you think of saying to your friend, ‘Let me help you get rid of that speck in your eye,’ when you can’t see past the log in your own eye? Hypocrite! First get rid of the log in your own eye; then you will see well enough to deal with the speck in your friend’s eye. Matthew 7:3-5

What concern gave you concern earlier that in this moment gives you joy at it's ridiculousness?


  1. abolutely hilarious! thanks for this post.

  2. The opening paragraph of the wife trying to mat down the wayward hair was so poignant. Thank you for that...and for the lighter moments that came later!