Two weeks

Unorganized and Incomplete Thoughts After 14 Days as an RN

Scores of scrub-clad figures approach the doors. Coffee in hand and sleep in eye, they file towards their posts. Blearily blinking as they herd onto elevators, yawns precipitating yawns. Shoes squeak on seemingly sterile tile and brows furrow in response to the insulting florescent lights. Third shifters pop their heads from behind computer screens and out of patient doors, owlish eyes seeming to sigh in relief in response to their relief. Hushed tones mingle with groans as quiet words prepare the next installation of men and women for their watch.

“Hun.” “Honey.” “Darlin’.” My teeth grate. Grateful the stifling mask is there to hide my grimace, I respond, “No problem.” Those words, while probably the most degrading, were the mildest of his language. The entire twelve-hour shift, my hackles were raised and my eyebrows cocked. When I received my assignment, sympathetic grimaces were sent my way. Couldn’t be too bad, I thought, I am only an orientee. While the physical and medical care is challenging, it pales in comparison to the toll taken on my patience and graciousness. Demanding. Taciturn. Offensive. I feel immensely relieved to report him off to the next nurse. Then I think about these things that make it difficult for me to serve and love this man. He is demanding.

Then I think about these things that make it difficult for me to serve and love this man. He is demanding. How often am I demanding of my heavenly caretaker! He is taciturn. How fickle my own heart and soul are! He is offensive. The sin and lies I deliberately choose to live in at times are abhorrent to the Healer. How much more wretched I am to my Father and Lord than this man ever will be, and yet He gives more grace. How remarkable and astonishing this illogical and counter-cultural love is; can I not treat this patient with love in my heart of hearts rather than just outward respect and tolerance?

As a beep sounds from a distant IV pump and the steady hum of ventilators fill the air, another sound joins. Laughter. The tech is entertaining the nurses at the station with an amusing story about a cute radiology tech. A husband sits anxiously in an unforgiving chair near the bedside of his wife, wringing his hands and wondering if he is strong enough to change her code status to DNR: do not resuscitate. A visiting woman rushes out, urgently trying to calm her crying infant. Further down an off-key rendition of Happy Birthday drifts down the hallway; a family celebrating despite the change in venue. This is one of the most beautiful sounds I have heard. The resilience of the human spirit. The doggedness and willpower to continue despite. A tear pricks at my eye as I stride medication in hand towards a man groaning and crying out in pain.

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