A second chance at life

After working solely in a charge nurse role, today was the first day in at least six months that I took a full patient assignment; I was riddled with anxiety upon awakening this morning, hoping I would remember what to do and how to keep my patients alive for the upcoming 12 hours, being absolutely ridiculous… and then I read the poem sweet Claudia had shared with us all.  Anxiety dissipated as I pondered the meaning of these words:

Our Greatest Fear
It is our light not our darkness that most frightens us.

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate.
Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.
It is our light not our darkness that most frightens us.
We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented and fabulous?

Actually, who are you not to be?
You are a child of God.
Your playing small does not serve the world.
There’s nothing enlightened about shrinking so that
other people won’t feel insecure around you.

We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us.

It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone.
And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously
give other people permission to do the same.

As we are liberated from our own fear,
Our presence automatically liberates others.

—Marianne Williamson

One of the patients God placed in my path today received a liver transplant two days ago. From Arkansas, he was transferred to our hospital in an acutely ill state. His wife is a nurse and made plans to be at the hospital for his liver biopsy which was to take place this past Monday. Mr. M shared with me that his wife said her prayer would be that they would receive news his biopsy was cancelled due to a liver being available. When her husband placed a phone call to her early Monday morning to deliver that very message, it took several minutes for him to convince her it was true.

As he shared his story, Mr. M cried for the donor family expressing sadness for their great loss and enormous gratitude for the second chance he had been given. We spoke about the greatest gift to them being his living his life to the fullest.

When his extended family began to arrive from Arkansas, the love in the room was immense. Mr. M was again moved to tears when his pastor made an eight hour drive to be with him.

Each small step made today was a celebration of life. He and his family were simultaneously nervous and excited as they watched the progress. He had his first meal since his surgery, had his catheter removed, worked with therapy, sat in a chair, and walked in the hall. When I prepared to start an IV in his arm, it took about ten minutes to convince him to let me stick the vein. He made me laugh as he kept asking, “Are you sure? You really think this is a good place for it? I just don’t know…” Everyone in the room erupted into laughter when I was fortunate enough to hit that vein with one stick and he said, “Wait… it’s in?! That wasn’t bad at all!” One of his daughters inherited her father’s gift for making others laugh showing it when I pulled his central line out. She asked if she could watch, then said, “I think I want to watch. But wait, maybe not. I’ll just cover my eyes a little… but I really do want to see. Kind of.”

Tonight, Mr. M’s daughters left the hospital to begin the long trip home, fortified by the knowledge that their father was going to be okay and comforted by the strong bond of family. His wife embraced the children she had not given birth to but loved as if she had. She spoke to me about their marriage. They are still newlyweds, having married last September after both being in tumultuous relationships in the past. She said that she never thought she would remarry, but God had given her time to begin to live for Him when wondrous things started to happen. When her husband got sick, she said that he was so strong in faith, telling her, “God wouldn’t have put us together only to have us lose each other so quickly. He has greater things planned, and we are about to see His greatness.” This lady’s light was described in the poem shared by my beautiful sweet sister, whose light has touched and changed us all forever.

As nurses, we are invited into people’s lives at the most intimate times. We share in their triumphs and heartbreaks, and must never forget what an honor and privilege that is. I remember some of my own darkest times in nursing, when I’ve felt discouraged and overwhelmed. It has been those times when God has sent me angels, immediately and with His perfect timing, to remind me that He places people in our lives at just the right moment. Our patients that He sends to us are our greatest teachers.

As I close my eyes to sleep tonight, it will be with gratitude for the Light I witnessed today, and with prayers and love for all of you. Thank you, Lord, for the miracles you are performing for our family and for second chances.

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