Ann and Mary

Ann and Mary

by Sr. Sheila Campbell MMM         Ireland        15.01.2023

When you live with the same people for a long time, sometimes you get bored with the same small talk.  This is when you have to look beyond the humdrum daily routine chat and re-discover the value of each person. This happened to me recently.

“What a fantastic bunch of women we are!”, I thought to myself after listening to a story from one of our Sisters.  She was telling me of an incident that happened many years ago in Nigeria.  This Sister, whom I will call Ann was a nurse working in a small rural hospital in Nigeria with a young Sister Doctor. I will call her Mary.  The reason I am not giving the real names is that neither would like to take credit for their courage and ingenuity.

One day a patient came in with severe respiratory problems.  He could not get any oxygen into his lungs and was in danger of death.  Sr. Mary knew she had to perform a tracheostomy, that is an incision directly into the windpipe.  With this in place they could insert an oxygen tube and save the man.  But there was a problem.  Sr. Mary was a young doctor and had never done this surgery before.  She consulted Sr. Ann, her senior in age and more experienced in Nigeria than herself.

“You can do it”, Sr. Ann encouraged.  “I will help you.”  Sr. Ann consulted a textbook she had and found out where the incision should be made.  But, of course, this small hospital barely had electricity and nothing as sophisticated as a photocopier.  So, she sat down and drew the picture in front of her. Armed with this paper, off they both went to the patient.  The operation was done, and the patient survived.

I was really impressed with this story.  It was told with such simplicity it masked the fact that these two women were very courageous and showed great adaptability, flexibility and a great team spirit.

As I sat there listening, I was aware that Sr. Ann was telling me because she was so proud of what Sr. Mary had achieved.  Sr. Mary was very ill at this time.   But I was proud of both of them, and proud to be belong to this Congregation of valiant women religious.