I’ve recently gone PRN which means even less time at the bedside for me. It’s been so nice to focus my time at home with my children, but I still do enjoy the field of Nursing. It’s something God led me to pursue twenty years ago, and my heart still bursts with joy and pride over the field despite how it may have changed over the years or any difficulties inherent with the vocation. I love nursing, but nursing is hard. It just is. Many days, especially as I’ve stepped back from being in the thick of it as much, I feel ill-equipped to face the task in front of me. Technology changes, patients keep getting sicker, we get even better at keeping them going, and I end up walking into a patient assignment that is almost overwhelming to me.
I recently accepted just an assignment, and as I traced all the many IV medication lines and varying monitoring wires mixed with multiple tubes exiting the patient’s body I was reminded of that old saying about not being able to see the forest for the trees. In the end, no matter how many IV meds are there to titrate, or how many numbers constantly change on multiple monitor screens, you have to remember there’s a patient in the bed. If he’s got airway, breathing, and circulation you can always work outwards from that. Yet despite that simple truth, many times when I find myself in the midst of a critical care situation I feel a bit lacking. I just do.
What do you do when God has given you a calling, but your confidence doesn’t match it? How do you proceed when you feel like your abilities aren’t enough for the situation at hand? What about when it’s too busy, and you fear that you are missing something vital? Or maybe you just worry about messing up period. I mean, let’s be honest here. Life and death is kind of a big deal, and when your actions can make the difference in the two that can be a bit overwhelming to say the least. So sometimes when I’m given that really critical patient I may wonder, do I really have what it takes to care for this patient like they deserve?
Every morning before I go into work at the bedside I will pray. I pray many things. For one, I always pray to hear God’s voice, and over the years that has proven most effective. There’s nothing quite like that gut feeling that warns you of emanate doom, or that small still voice that directs you in your care. It’s in that medium that I work best, and it reminds me of the spiritual truth that carries me when I do not feel like I can carry myself.
I can do all this through him who gives me strength.
When the Lord has called you to something that you feel is greater than yourself He will equip you to complete it. Much like Moses feeling inadequate to lead the Israelites out of Egypt, sometimes I feel inadequate to care for my patients. After thirteen years in critical care I guess I’m still my own worst enemy, but I am reminded that the Lord places within me the strength, knowledge, and ability to perform the work He has given me to do at this time. I just have to walk confidently in that.
So I transversed confidently through all the tubes, wires, lines, pumps, monitors, readings, and alarms. Then when my severely, critically-ill patient held his own, and my routine post-op patient took an expected turn for the worse, I would like to think I handled it with the precision and care that was deserved. When I hopped on the bed and started cranking out chest compressions I’d like to believe that each one delivered just the right amount of oxygenated blood that was required until her heart started beating again later on its own. Hallelujah.
After the day was done and I had one critically ill patient on the road to recovery, and another that had tried to die back to stable, I felt like I had done good. My coworkers and the doctors said I had, which helped.
I remember joking to a fellow nurse that day, “nursing is hard, yo!”
To which we all chuckled. But it was true. I think, for me, sometimes the hardest part is believing I have all that it takes to do the job as well as I desire to do it. Honestly, sometimes I wonder, but it’s always the calming spirit of the Lord that reminds me what I can do when He is for me. I truly believe that when God gives you a calling for the field of Nursing He will also equip you with the critical thinking to do more than you can imagine that you are capable of doing. So even in those moments where it may seem like more than you can handle, you do just fine. You actually do very well.