Taking care of Mama Ellen


I’m ashamed to admit it, but my gift is not in nursing.

In fact, my husband says that if he ever gets a bad disease, he’s definitely not counting on me to help him through it. And he’s right not to. I’m a lousy nurse.


I have a suspicion as to why I lack the ability to nurse others. I won’t go into those here because to discuss them would require divulging secrets about other people, and I’m not into that.


And it’s not that I’m not empathetic. I am, perhaps too empathetic. I can’t stand to see people suffer. In fact, when those ASPCA commercials come on TV, I have to turn the channel or I’ll cry and be depressed the rest of the day. I simply can’t handle knowing an animal is suffering. I also have to redirect my thinking on world hunger and disease on a daily basis. It causes me great despair that I don’t have enough resources to cure all that causes pain and suffering in this world. Seriously. You have no idea how much that bothers me.


So, what is the main barrier to my being a good nurse?



When my kids got hurt growing up, if they were bleeding, I sent them to their father. It wasn’t the sight of blood that got to me. It was that I truly felt their pain. My stomach would drop to my knees.


Then there’s the squeamishness of having to touch or smell icky things.


And that’s where my lack of wanting to nurse Mama (my mother-in-law who lives with us) comes in.

It’s not that I don’t love her. It’s not that she’s not deserving. She is a delightful person and the most appreciative woman I’ve ever known, which makes me feel even worse about my lack of desire to be her nurse.

It’s this:  handling her false teeth grosses me out.


It’s not that I don’t feel sympathy or compassion for her life of lost memories (she has Alzheimer’s and Dementia). It’s that bathroom accidents truly make me sick.


It’s not that I feel I’m too good to handle such things. It’s that I have a tactile defensiveness to anything squishy or dirty.


I thank God every day for gloves!

Mr. Himself is out of town for almost two weeks. The bulk of the care he’s always done (thank God) is falling to me now.

To overcome my horrid selfishness, I’m choosing to praise God as I brush her false teeth and change her into clean clothes. This is an opportunity for me to grow. I don’t like this squeamish side of me that runs from opportunities of service such as this.

artificial_teeth_on_glass_with_waterBut he that is greatest among you shall be your servant. And whosoever shall exalt himself shall be abased; and he that shall humble himself shall be exalted. Matthew 23:11

If any man desire to be first, the same shall be last of all, and servant of all. Mark 9:35a

Do you have a weakness to overcome? Something that bugs you about your personality? If so, leave me a comment so I know I’m not alone!

twitter-bird-1-300x300Tweet this: I see what you did there and I’m grossed out!

Tweet this: What makes you squeamish?

Comments 5

  1. I feel your pain! I used to pass out when I would even see a needle or if someone was describing a surgery or something bad like that. It took having cancer to get over the phobia in 2006. I still hate needles, but I have learned to breathe when they are taking blood, etc. However, the worst thing was in 2010 when I had a surgery gone wrong and ended up with a colostomy. After 33 days in the hospital, I went home with a huge abdomen wound and that awful colostomy. I would gag and cry and gag & cry every time I had to dump my waste. It took me 4 months before I was willing to even try to change out the colostomy appliance (1 to 2 times a week). Yes, I go through lots and lots of gloves. Those gloves saved my life. No, I no longer gag. But guess what? My hubby is now the one who cleans the kitty litter boxes out. I say that I see enough body waste all the time. He is happy to do that for me.

    1. Post

      I’m humbled indeed by your story. What a lot to cope with on a daily basis. I’m so glad you stopped by and shared it with me. Do you have a blog? I’d like to follow you! Thanks again for shining light on how much we all have to learn in this life and how much more I need to realize that things could be very different in the span of one event. I admire you a lot!

      1. Carla, no, I don’t have a blog. Not enough time in my day. I just try to encourage people on FB and other places. Life can leave us lemons and by God’s grace, we can make lemonade out of it. I remember reading a book by Michael Phillips “Make Me Like Jesus”. It is a hard prayer to pray. I really struggled with that prayer and then I finally came to the conclusion that no matter what would happen, I would have to cling to God to get through it. It was then next year that I was diagnosed with cancer. I hope that I never have to go through what I did in 2006, 2007 and 2010, but I know that God will be with me, even if the cancer comes back.

  2. Yeah, had a problem cleaning vomit when the kids were little. I’d throw up on top of it and make an even bigger mess. YUCK

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      Same here. I wasn’t a compassionate Mom when it came to that, either. I’d be like, “don’t throw up on the couch–run to the bathroom!” Poor kids! But my mom was the same way and I think we maybe learn that from how we were parented. Who knows.

      Had my first “dramatic clean up event” tonight. But I lived. God is good!

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