So the past few weeks I have been pondering my life... how I got where I am... and I know it kinda seems like a lot's going on but for some reason, I still felt benched.
Perhaps it's because I started on a new unit with a whole bunch of people I'm meeting for the first time... many of whom forget that I work there permanently and keep asking if I'm a float or who I am. I feel like I'm sitting on the sidelines watching other people play the game and sometimes I feel like I'm at the bottom of the bench. The end of the bench?
So I had resolved to... spend my time on the bench as productively as possible. Sit and watch. Learn. Observe. To try to keep up as much as possible so whenever the coach wants to put me in... I'll be warm and ready and waiting to take my place. If I'm gonna be benched... or actually, in this case... to only feel like I'm being benched... I want to be the best benched person ever. Benched with excellence.
I'm learning a lot. My new unit takes very different patients than the other units I've been on. I feel like this is a whole new world of nursing and sometimes I get stuck in the mentality that I don't know what's going on and I forget that I do have some experience to fall back on. I have to remember that I'm adjusting to a new patient population and adjusting to the way things work on day shift... and just follow my inklings and ask questions if there's anything I'm not sure about. I always think it's better to ask a question 10 times than to make a mistake by not asking. Thankfully, my new co-workers are super nice. They are super willing to answer my questions and even if it's something I should have known, they just answer my question and don't get on my case about "you should have known this or that". The secretary and I were just talking about that phenomenon today. How in the amount of time it took someone to yell at you for "you should have already known how to do that", they could have taught you how to do it and saved you a whole lot of stress and helped you for next time too. Anyway. I'm glad I'm on this unit.
Today was a good day at work. My patients were sweet. Their family members were also sweet and very helpful. I got a chance to teach them things. I really felt like we worked as a team to help the patient. That's always nice. Also, a few of the nurses took the time to explain things to me and to help walk me through what normally happens when we get a fresh open heart (or a patient who just came back from open heart surgery). It's so complicated. There's so much going on. I think I'll have to watch/hear/listen many times before I truly "get it" but I'm glad to have the experience to observe again today. After the patient had stabilized enough for me to ask questions, some of the nurses and I got to talking. This one particular nurse was quite outspoken. We talked about all kinds of things... nurse practitioners, health care, nurses, abortion, gay marriage, etc. etc. Anyway... this person also mentioned that they were agnostic. Multiple times throughout the day. I'm not sure how it came up multiple times but it just did. As a newbie, I do a lot of listening. I was very aware of this fact.
And then there was a moment where I had to make a split second decision. The moment came right after this agnostic nurse asked me if I was married or dating.
On some units or among some co-workers... I don't elaborate. When patients ask me this question, I usually give the VERY short answer which I know will lead to a dead end in the conversation... and that answer is "nope". It's vague. It's a conversation ender.
I remember standing there... at the door of the room... looking at this patient with a billion tubes coming out of her, surrounded by machines... a nurse facing me, doing one of the countless tasks that have to occur every hour in order to manage care of this patient... I had a choice... to say "nope" or to say what I know will open the door to many more questions... a much longer conversation... taking more time than I know this nurse has. I made that split-second decision to say, "I'm widowed" and the events following this split-second decision were nothing short of amazing... to me anyway.
I have to back up to another conversation I had recently... just to give a little bit of background as to why this was significant. Building on my feelings prior to getting the Dr. Eugene Scholarship... I had wondered whether or not my time talking about widowdom was near an end. It is definitely a part of me and it is a significant part... but I don't want it to define me or who I am in the future. But just as having my scholarship essay read aloud for me to hear my own words tell me that being widowed is inextricably part of who I am... that it is not just my past but a part of me that molds and influences how I do my work as a nurse, as a student... as a friend... it makes me a better person... to embrace it as what it is... the most powerful testimony of God's grace and God's glory shown through my life.
As I read through the stories of the kings of Israel and Judah... and think back on what God did in Egypt... in the wilderness... in the conquering of the promised land... I can't help but think that what He has already done is more than enough foundation to make having faith in Him a no brainer. How many times have I read, "thus you shall know that I am your God and you are My people..." and all the amazing things God has done after that? How many people have witnessed God's amazing work in their lives and also in the lives of the people around them... and still fail to believe? Lots. I think there's a big difference between saying, "Lord, please help my unbelief" and doubting that God is powerful enough to handle our problems, big or small, or that His way is better than our way 100% of the time. I heard on the radio someone talking about the shortest distance between two points and how it's not a straight line... otherwise rivers would be straight lines... the shortest distance between two points, he said, is the path of least resistance. Imagine trying to navigate through a forest and trying to go in a straight line... there are trees in the way... there may be rocks... there may be all kinds of road blocks which keep us from going in a straight line but we INSIST on going in a straight line. Perhaps there is instead... a little squiggly path... perhaps around a bend, around the trees... it will take us in the direction we need to go, perhaps necessitating some "detours" but the road marked before us has little inklings that we're heading the right direction without ruining the forest. Perhaps leading to a little spring along the way... maybe taking us on an adventure... to enjoy the journey as well as press on toward the destination. It's not a perfect analogy... but when we choose God, we are choosing to follow the God who knows the forest inside and out, who has complete control over everything that happens there... who knows the path of our lives and plans for the best... who knows also that a detour here or there might just be better for the journey than trying to plow through in a straight line or even cut down the trees that fall in our way. K. I think I'm getting carried away with this one. The point is... it never occurred to me to transfer to CVU six months ago, but the way circumstances played out... if one unit seemed to slam all the doors in my face and another unit promises to open them up again... I was almost led here... around the trees... and taking a path I don't know and was unsure about... but somehow trusting that it was meant to happen this way.
Today was one of those days where I found a little nugget letting me know that I'm here for a reason... sent for a purpose. Kinda like Paul. OK I digress a little bit but I promise it has a point. Paul... I can't remember exactly how it happened but somehow ended up on trial or maybe imprisoned and then on trial... in front of Romans... in front of maybe the senate or whatever convenes during Roman trials... and I think he probably could have gotten out of the whole thing by telling them he was a Roman citizen but he didn't. He went ahead and got put on trial... and he got a chance to bring the gospel of Jesus Christ directly to people who probably wouldn't listen to a Hebrew otherwise. He had a captive audience. And one thing that someone said reminded me of something someone said to me today, "you almost persuade me to become a Christian" (from Acts 26).
So going back to work today... during my split second decision... I felt like the coach was calling my name and asking if I wanted to step up and play. And because I was ready... I said yes. I don't know what it is about saying the words, "I'm widowed" that makes people stop what they're doing and listen to what I have to say. A respiratory therapist AND a nurse both immediately stopped what they were doing and gave me matching looks of incredulity. And I couldn't help but to elaborate.
It's not the first time I've told the story. In fact, some words I used... were exactly what I said when telling my story on The Upper Room interview. I tried to be as brief as possible... as to not disturb people from their work of saving lives or whatnot... but for some reason when I told my story today... it was contagious. It was contagious and unifying. Nursing is largely independent work. Everyone has their own respective tasks of things to do and we all kind of plot out our own day according to our own priorities in order to get them done. That means that one person could be charting, one person could be drawing up meds, one person could be at the monitor looking at heart rhythms... everyone's usually doing something different. Oh and that's not to mention that some nurses don't get along with others so they don't talk to each other or try to keep their distance. Anyway... when I got to talking... one person heard a little bit and wanted me to share more. And then another person heard a bit and pulled up a chair to listen. I was well prepared with my "wedding photos" album on my phone. I remember standing there with 3 nurses sitting/standing around me, the newbie, listening as though the words coming out of my mouth were captivating... and maybe it was. Maybe I am a good story teller, despite the stutterings and forgetting words or terms or guessing at dates. So we had story time, right there in the middle of the cardiac ICU at Anaheim Regional Medical Center.
I like telling the story to nurses. We can talk about the medical stuff. They ask me questions about diagnosis and history... they guess that he had mets (or metastases) and they know what I'm talking about when I talk about respiratory failure, intubation... traching. In a way, I get to tell Anderson's story in a different way when I tell it to nurses or people in the medical field. I actually did not mention God in my brief medical synopsis version... but even in the midst of nurses having to leave and come back to story time... that agnostic nurse came back and made a bold statement that, "I'm agnostic but it's stories like yours that make me want to believe there is a God". I didn't even outright say anything... but God's work speaks for itself.
It reminded me that my life and my testimony is not meant to be hidden... or put on a shelf high up like a high school yearbook. It's meant to be... a light... placed on a hill... to cast light in the darkness of night... to brighten the paths of the valley... and to illuminate the way for others struggling to see their own feet. I'm not quite sure what kind of impact this little bit of the Tifferson story had on my co-workers that particular day, but I do find that when I share honestly... other people also share about related stories in their lives... and also try to encourage me... and hugs. I usually get lots of hugs.
The amazing things God's done in my life... they are meant to be shared... and also to be remembered. How can I doubt God and His goodness when I daily remind myself of His faithfulness and His grace to me and Anderson? How can I ever complain about the "crazy" things that happen in my life when God has shown me time and time again that what Satan means for evil, God can turn into good? And it's not just the stuff God's done in the past... it's the stuff He continues to do in my everyday life which gives me even more stories to tell about His awesomeness.
For example...miss grumpy nurse... the one who complains about everything... who carries the weight of the stress of the job on her shoulders and never wants to take it off... the abrasive one with the passive aggressive jokes... made it a point to encourage me and tell me that I'm beautiful and smart and that she's sure that one day I'll love again. I think that God's work can pierce through the most callous hearts and bring out the sweetness and tenderness that often hides behind the protective stone walls that people put up. That... is beautiful to me. And perhaps I will have a chance to share again one day... to tell more stories... and encourage others... and bring shining light and hope into their lives. Yes. I was meant to be here. And I'm also thankful for all the training and prepwork... for the moments I was benched, but ready at a moment's notice to seize an opportunity to share. Who knows... I may not get a chance to share again... this might be the only day I get to work with these people... and I think that's kind of a good mentality to have.
If this were the only interaction I would ever have with a person... what would I want them to remember? If I only had these 12 hours today... to take care of a patient... to work alongside someone... or even to meet someone new somewhere... what kind of an impact do I want to have on them? I think I'd want to leave them with a sweet taste... wanting to hear more, know more... and that's also probably the way we need to be treating every person we come in contact with. I am guilty of behaving in ways which probably leave bitter tastes in people's mouths... which leave them thankful that I'm away from them... but hopefully, with God's grace, I can grow to become the sweetest version of me...the me that is as much like Jesus as I can possibly be in this life.
OK. I think I probably should try to get some sleep. It's finals week after all.
Thank you for taking the time to read about my day at work.
P.S. I like day shift. I do also like night shift for various reasons... but I really enjoy being at the hospital during the day. There are so many more people to talk to and infinitely more people to smile at. And the MDs are so much nicer during the day. I think I could go either way. Plus, I'm pretty sure I have my night shift experience so that I can represent night shifters at committee meetings and speak up for their unique needs as well. All part of my training to play the best game I can.
P.P.S. I'm very sensitive to caffeine. I think I'm still wired from the small cup of coffee I drank 15 hours ago. My very nice co-workers bought me a cup of hazelnut vanilla coffee and I couldn't say no. I've been awake for 19 hours. I'm still not tired. But that meant I had enough energy to blog my day for you. All good.