I have professed for all the years I have been a nurse : “I get to take care of my patients” and that my “patients and their families cross my path for a reason and I am to learn something that will help me be a better nurse.”
My life path has led me through what I consider really deep and dark places the last 5 years. I have been my worst critic and have let the negative thoughts about myself rise above the truth. I have not felt good enough nor have I lived confidently. My exterior is tough. I am Ann BS – or Ann full of bull sh*t. I have tried to pass myself off as a person who knows everything but I don’t. I am a vulnerable person. I am teachable. I do not feel like I have to defend myself to everyone now. I am learning to be quick to listen & slow to speak.” Many of you should be telling me to shut up. I believe God made me for His purpose and plan. At my very deepest core there is the pulse of Creator God.
Tuesday and Wednesday this week I was struggling with questions and feeling bah humbug. I wasn’t looking forward to Christmas because I was dwelling on some very sweet memories of what this holiday used to be when I was married; when my children were younger and drawn in fully by the awe of the holiday (Emma still loves Christmas and her motivation and words have brought me to write these thoughts down) and what was is definitely over. Focused on the past and not grateful for what is right in front of me.
Being close to the end of the year many people are opting for elective surgeries and my work is very busy. Wednesday I was the preop nurse to several patients who were having surgery but were scared to the point of tears. When I asked what they were afraid of, both shared they were afraid of the pain after surgery. I asked why they were having surgery and the answer is they couldn’t tolerate the bone on bone pain any longer, not being able to things like walk with their family and do simple things like take out the trash bathe without assistance, shop at the mall and grocery store etc. The similarity of the 2 patients seemed parallel to my life – only I am not having a surgery. We all have pain in our lives – patients have physical pain that affects ability to move, think and live to the fullest. My pain/fear of my future as a single person has me looking backward and focused on what will never be again. Looking backward paralyzes you and prevents you from being grateful for where you are and what you have. I love the fairy tale ending and want that for myself.
The end of the workday took me to recovery area. I got to be the recovery nurse of a total care patient younger than myself. Total care means the patient relies on others for care in all aspects of their daily life and may have multiple lines and bags from their body that feed and carry waste.
I received this patient one hour before my scheduled time off and I had plans and wanted to get off on time. I am ashamed to say I was cussing in my thoughts because this patient would require extensive charting and time…which I didn’t want to provide at the time.
I took a deep breath and turned to the patient. It took me a moment to understand what he was saying for disease limited communication. “Thank you for taking care of me!” as a tear rolled down the grateful sweet face. Tears rolled down my face in response. My patient asked me to wipe their tear and I did. Over and over in my mind I told God thank you – thank you for this patient. Thank you for this lesson. Thank you that you have kept me in a place of health where I am able to care for myself – I can move my legs and walk. I can scratch my head if it itches. I can wipe the tears from my own face.
God gave me an appointment with this patient. Sometimes we get focused on what we want and miss opportunities. I was reminded how blessed I am. The pain I have been choosing to feel is a choice – a choice to focus on my past and what will never return. I have to see what is in this moment to be grateful for. I can change what my days ahead are to be – like an elective surgery to improve quality of life – I have to embrace the opportunity of a better future and not fear pain that might not ever be there. I have to be like my patients and take the step of faith and trust others.
I find it very difficult to trust others. I don’t like to admit I am not able to do things I once was able to do with ease. I have failed to ask for help. I have been like this patient only mentally. As I prayed this morning I realized that God is at my bedside as I was for this patient in recovery. He hears my voice and tenderly wipes away my tears. He knows my needs. He knows my pain. I will trust Him.