Until this point, I have driven to work wondering if today might be the day when I experience for the first time what it is like to have my patient code under my watch. I have taken part (and a small part, mind you) in other codes with other nurses, but the patient was never my patient until now. And it was relatively brief and minor, as far as codes go. Perhaps that is the mercy of God easing me in as still a relatively young, new nurse. The patient’s breathing tube became dislodged and he had some trouble keeping his oxygenation and heart rate up until the doctors were able to rush over and get another breathing tube in. My hands shook unabashedly as I pushed the drugs to help the intubation go smoothly. Thankfully, the patient stabilized after just a brief episode of chaos.
It was the first time I’ve ever had a patient (semi-)code on my watch. It was the second time I’ve ever had a parent yell at me. I knew the frustration about the child’s situation wasn’t personal, but it hurt nonetheless. I try my best as a nurse to keep a calm exterior in front of the parents, but the inner feelings eventually have to go somewhere, and I’m still figuring out where they go, and where and how they eventually show up again. They always seem to catch me by surprise. I’ll drive home feeling surprisingly ok. A day or two later, in the most normal of life circumstances, I’ll greet a friend with a casual hug and suddenly a surge of sadness and heartache spring up. They’re so curious, emotions. You can suppress them for a while, but you can’t escape them. My counselor keeps reminding me how new I still am as a pediatric ICU nurse. He reminds me to be patient with myself as I grow in my coping mechanisms. He assures me that the wild vacillation I often feel between deeply intense emotions and a reactionary strong need to distance myself from anything remotely emotional will eventually settle down, even out a bit. I hope so. Sometimes it’s like being on a bad amusement park ride with agonizingly slow hill climbs and then wild drops that leave your heart behind, trying to catch up to where you are again. I knew it was a hard profession and a particularly hard unit to work in. But I’m still constantly surprised at just how hard it really is.
My comfort this morning comes from God’s words about Abraham. Known as the great father of faith, Abraham was yet a man who, more than once, questioned, doubted, feared, manipulated, even laughed at God. I find comfort in both Abraham’s faith as well as his frailty. But beyond that, I find comfort in his God, who is also my God.
The Lord says about Abraham in Genesis 18:19 –
For I have known him, in order that he may command his children and his household after him, that they may keep the way of the Lord, to do righteousness and justice, that the Lord may bring to Abraham what He has spoken to him.
Ultimately, Abraham is able to walk his journey of faith, not because he is so unwavering in his knowledge of God, but because God knows Abraham and is able to do what He must do in Abraham’s heart and life to grow and sustain him when the seemingly impossible challenges come. Wait, Abraham, until Sarah is past her years of fertility so you can see My power in giving you a child. You will doubt, you will struggle with impatience, you will try to make it happen on your own, but eventually, you will see, and you will learn. And then remember this, when I ask you to lift your hand with a knife and slay that same miracle child. You will learn how to sacrifice and trust the second time, because I taught you a little bit about it the first time.
Sometimes I think, if I could just get myself to trust Him more, get myself to let go of my fears better, then I could be strong. But I don’t always sense at the core of me that He already knows me intimately, knows my name, knows my ways, my coming and my going, my hopes and fears, my desires and my struggles in seeking to follow after Him. When I think of it as me trying to reach upward to attain faith, attain stability in life’s great challenges, it is daunting because I feel my frailty every day. But when I realize that He is here, in me, near me, around me, with me, growing me, loving me, it changes everything.
It changes everything.