My first year a nurse I didn’t cope well. Still today, the occasional nightmare visits me. I dream about missing assessments and drugs not passed in time and I haven’t been a floor nurse in 12 years! I’m happy to say things did get better but that inaugural year was tough. Awash with anxiety, I really couldn’t put my finger on the one thing making bonkers. Overwhelmed with what was expected of me and what I expected of me- I dreaded going to work. I’m embarrassed to say, I called in to my supervisor many times stating I was sick and wouldn’t be working because I could not deal.
So you can imagine how things went with my first code. The hours of 7p-9p are a busy time on most nursing units. That night I was hustling. Attempting to assess and introduce myself to all 10-12 of my patients, field phone calls, review the drugs and administer them on time and make sure I had working IV’s. Despite the pace, I felt I was starting to get the hang of things. Life, however, was about to play a cruel trick.
Standing at my male patient’s bedside with his loving wife hovering nearby, I dutifully carried out my nursing duties. He was having difficulty swallowing-not uncommon, so I was offering his pills in applesauce.
Then in a heartbeat- time stopped. He stopped swallowing, he stopped looking, he stopped breathing. Holding my breath, I made eye contact with the wife. The panic in her eyes most certainly mirrored mine.
Things went off the rail from here and I have a scar to prove it! Nurses train for this-we know what to do. It’s rather simple, pick up the phone-call for help. Lower the bed and get ready for CPR. Instead, I was compelled to leave the patient, run down the hall 3 rooms and grab the code cart and tell the unit secretary to call the “code blue.” Then as I proceeded to push the cart, round the corner and head back down the hall, I unceremoniously shoved the entire cart over.
Yes, you read that right. Kaboom! The cart and all it’s supplies landed with a thud and I had the whole nurses stations attention. I quickly surveyed the damage.
Defibrillator on the floor-not helpful.
Random items scattered on the floor.
There was not time to have a pity party. Looking down the hall, I see my patient’s wife standing in the doorway watching me. Frantically, I started to scoop things up under the watchful eye of a physician peering over the counter at the display before him. I implored the perplexed doc to help, “ uh, a little help here!”
With super power strength, I picked the cart up, somehow managing to take a chunk of skin out of my shin (thus the scar) and push the disheveled cart and bleeding self back towards the room. Thankfully, help starts to arrive and more experienced, calmer people take over. All in all, the chaos lasted about 3 minutes.
Unfortunately, my patient didn’t make it. He had what we call a pulmonary emboli. A clot to the lung, it comes on sudden and often fatal. That memory plays itself over in my head and I often think, why didn’t I stay with the patient and call for help? That is what I had been trained to do. I could have avoided an embarrassing spectacle and left my sweet patient’s wife with a somewhat less traumatic experience. In my panic, I thought I needed to do it all.
Recently, I was pondering the story of the disciples out on the sea of Galilee (read it here in Matthew and Mark). They were anticipating some respite from a long day when a storm came up suddenly. The storm was so severe the boat began to take on water. They were terrified, as they knew sinking would be inevitable. Jesus who was asleep in the back of the boat (comfortably, I might add, as the bible shares the distinct fact he had a pillow). The disciples rouse Jesus and beg him for help.
Scripture doesn’t say how much time passed between the storm and Jesus awakening. Considering human nature and from my past experience-I pose a question. Is it all possible the panicked disciples tried to save their boat with their own heroic maneuvers?
They battled the waves, attempting to take command of the boat. They barked orders at each other, even maybe assuming Jesus was laboring with them. As things progressed from bad to worse, they begin assess their situation. How are things this bad-they turn to Jesus to inquire, only Jesus is nowhere to be seen. Why isn’t He here? Battered and bruised, then they look for Jesus-only to find him sacked out.
They wake Jesus and ask, “Don’t you care about us?” Christ immediately moves into action. Jesus proceeds to do what He does best-calms the storm, calls them to a greater faith and casts out fear. The convulsions cease and peace blankets the waters. Not alone that night, the sea of Galilee is full of other boats that are witness to what Jesus can do. Jesus of course cares-but could it be He is waiting (in this case snoozing) patiently to be invited to demonstrate his compassion?
As a nurse, my first crisis moment didn’t go so well because in a panic I tried to be superwoman. Unfortunately, there were many to witness the ensuing calamity and I didn’t cast nursing in the best, most competent light.
As a Christian how do you respond in a crisis? Do you, like the disciples, maybe wait to call on Jesus until it’s apparent you are drowning? Is your life giving the testimony that it should? Or do you instead choose to be your own savior, therefore robbing others of seeing what Jesus can do? If we claim to be Christians but struggle to do life all on our own, are we not ignoring the very thing we are trained to do?
Romans 10:13 says, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” What kind of witness do we deliver if we parade through this life professing Jesus name but never turn to Him when it counts!
Like anything, we learn from experience, or at least we hope to. As we practice calling on Jesus, even in the bitty things it will develop into a habit. That is what I desire- turning to Jesus every time so that it becomes instinctive in me-like breathing.
Then when the unforeseen storm breaks in my life, I will know what to do. I will call out to the master physician, “uh, a little help here?”
Will you call on Jesus?
He is ready to calm your storm.
Call you to a greater faith.
Cast out your fear.
Doing life by yourself- is just halfbaked!