What is perspective? Is it simply the way we choose to look at something or can it be something more? The definition I enjoy most is the “true understanding of the relative importance of things, a sense of proportion.” An understanding of important things in life. Something many of us often lack. Given time to reflect on my own life, I slowly began to appreciate the art of perspective and the lessons it has taught me.
As a nursing student, I am constantly faced with situations that allow me to reflect on my own life. Day in and day out, sick people come in looking for the simple act of care, and sometimes certain cases really hit a nerve within me. How can I complain about my “unfulfilling dinner” when I just helped a man who hasn’t eaten in days? How can I blame my roommate for using all the hot water when my last patient hasn’t been able to shower for a week besides the occasional bed bath? These little realizations we make ultimately allow us to understand what really matters.
I went into this experience completely blind, going to a new city with a group of people I had never met in my life.
It wasn’t until the plane ride over that I started to question what I was doing. The man sitting across from me asked what hospital I would be working at and what city I was traveling to. My answer? “I honestly have no idea where I’m going.” Maybe this spontaneous trip was not the best idea.
From one perspective, you could say I was crazy for going to a third world country with strangers. But from the other, I was a nursing student choosing to extend my skills to those in need. Sounds better, right? I met hundreds of kind people in Honduras that were beyond grateful for our help, but I want to tell you about the one person who really made an impact on us.
Why was she at the hospital? Mary Luz was born with two clubbed feet, a genetic deformity that causes the feet to shape into what essentially looks like a club. Her left leg was amputated below the knee the previous year by another mission team. Because of the severity of her condition, her right foot was in such bad shape that amputation was the only option.
There she sat on the exam table, surrounded by about ten people who were all poking and prodding at her foot and saying a bunch of medical terms that would eventually be translated to her. I was one of those ten people, guilty of being amazed by her condition.
It wasn’t until later that night that I realized how selfish I was for being excited to see such an operation as a nursing student. I hadn’t even considered her feelings and her fears because all I saw when I looked at Mary Luz was her courage.
Yes, we hear about incredible cases where miracles happen and death is overcome, but Mary Luz is the definition of a survivor. She chose to put her life in the hands of strangers, trusting in the Lord that we would take care of her in the best way that we could. I needed someone like Mary to come into my life so that I could really appreciate what I was doing as a nurse.
Mary waited countless hours in pre-op surely experiencing the deepest of fears, but she never let it show. I checked on Mary about every 30 minutes, attempting to make my Spanglish sound somewhat decent and upbeat. Even though she may not have understood what I was saying, she knew she was in the right place. She constantly smiled and whispered, “thank you” every chance she could.
Yes, we were performing a surgery for her, but it was going to cost her a leg. I began contemplating how upset I might be if I had to lose not one, but both legs in a matter of two years. I would probably mope around complaining, trying to soak up every ounce of pity I could find. Perspective. Mary did not consider this as a loss, but a blessing.
This is the point where it clicked in my head. We may be fearful, wonder why God chose this plan for us, or think it is the end of the world, but to Mary it was just the beginning of a new life. A new life filled with new adventures. I was fortunate to meet a woman like Mary Luz, because it only takes one person like her to turn your perspective around.
I will never be able to express the thankfulness I have for you, Mary. I never knew that meeting one person can truly change a life. God blessed us with you for a reason. I hope you know the impact your warm heart has made not only on me, but on every person around you. May your future be filled with all the adventures you so desire and deserve. We love you Mary Luz.