I have had several people ask me to write a book about my nursing experiences. I have a love-hate relationship with this idea. I am a decent story teller, and a book of this nature would give a bird’s-eye view to the general population about the human condition. I have a broad spectrum of experience. The down-side is that I’m in no way qualified to write a book…I didn’t major in English Lit; I do not have any strings to pull with publishers or editors; and I have seen the process a friend is going through right now to try to get a wonderful book of hers out there. It has been quite the journey for her.
With that said, I will share with you about my day yesterday, because I’ve found writing is cathartic for me. I have a burden on my heart, and sometimes through writing I find the peace I’m searching for.
At 5:21am my phone rang. I reached for it, still in a haze of sleep, and answered it. There aren’t many who call me that early…I get an occassional text from a nurse friend who works nights at 2am. I have another friend who is expecting, and her husband like mine is a firefighter who works through the night many nights. So, I leave my phone on in case she calls to tell me it’s time to go to the hospital. The only other place that calls that early is my work. I had plans to go into take a mandatory hazardous materials class yesterday; however another nurse had called in sick, and they needed a nurse to cover her shift. At first I said no, because I was already scheduled to take the hazmat course. After I thought about it, (I would get more pay to go in and work than I would for taking the course) I called back and told them I’d be there at 8am. I had no idea what I’d just agreed to. In the particular ER that I work in there are only two nurses in a 6 bed ER. We have a desk person to register patients, and a tech who is trained to help.
It was a fairly quiet morning, with only a few patiens with minor things. We had one level II trauma- which consisted of an elderly man who tripped and fell, but because he was on a blood thinner, and hit his head, he would need extra tests to determine that he did not have a bleed in his head.
Then at 2:00 pm, we started hearing radio traffic from EMS about an accident on a mountain highway. As we listened, a sense of dread came over me about the patients who would be coming into our ER. I have said in previous posts that I love taking care of a bloody, screaming trauma…but I love it because they are alive-they just need fixing. The radio dispatcher announced that there was a single vehicle rollover, EMS responding reported there were victims ejected from the vehicle, one deceased. I hoped and prayed that it wasn’t a family who had just lost a mommy or a daddy, but it was. EMS arrived in our ER at 1452. The mother of two adorable children was sobbing-gut wrenching, heart-breaking sobs that shook her whole body. The EMS responder gave her a long hug as she cried. Then he gave report to me which revealed the whole, horrific story. The family had been driving along- the mother was driving, cruise control set to 65 mph when she came upon a patch of black ice. The vehicle began fishtailing, and she couldn’t regain control. Her family was peacefully sleeping just before she hit the ice. The vehicle spun out of control, rolled, ejected her and her husband. The vehicle rolled onto her husband, and killed him. Her babies escaped without a scratch thankfully. She told the story to me in her own words…the fear of searching for her family in the wreckage, and finding her husband mangled (her description is just too graphic, and painful to even write about). She told about desperately shaking him, hoping with all her heart for some sign of life, but realizing he was gone. She could hear her babies crying in the vehicle-and saw that they were okay. People traveling on the highway saw the wreckage, and stoped to help her extricate her babies from the car, and called 911 for her.
All I could do was hug her and cry with her. As she sobbed on my shoulder and asked how she would ever get through this my heart broke into pieces for her. She went on to tell me he was her best friend, and that her babies no longer had a daddy. A grief this deep, and a sadness this raw is something I hate, because it is so hard to reckon with in your own heart, and I still had 4 hours of work to get through before I could get in my pickup and really have a good cry. This one hit so close to home that I still feel horrible for this little family. It’s so very hard to remove yourself from this equation, because it could happen to any of us. It’s something that causes you to be acutely aware of your priorities in life, and to be so, so thankful for what you have. I write this today to tell you to NEVER take for granted, your family. Love them with all your heart. Lift them up in prayer frequently. Be a light in your family. Most of all care enough to know where their heart is with God.
As for this dear woman, my prayer for her is that she can just focus on breathing…one step at a time, and that her pain will be dulled quickly. I pray that God will wrap his arms of comfort around her, and protect her fragile heart and mind right now. I pray that she will not blame herself for this tragedy. I pray that she can be there for her beautiful babies even on the hardest days. I pray that she can find strength in this wreckage, so that one day she can pass on that strength to another who is struggling in the difficult mire of loss.
This job of mine forces me to deal with the issue of life and death-and it’s so very hard. I asked God why He called me to this situation yesterday. I could have just as easily gone to the hazmat class. I believe I heard his answer today. He gave me His heart yesterday-to hurt for this woman to provide heartfelt sympathy in her time of need. He is also forcing me to think about how to provide comfort in devastating situations. My husband and I have always said we would love to do disaster relief after our child rearing days are over, or possibly when our children are old enough to serve alongside us. I have never truly thought about how I will be prepared to care for the most basic need of people after a disaster-their emotional state, and their questions of why me? Why us? I’ve always just invisioned myself handing out clean water, and helping to re-build houses. God’s strength is made perfect in our weakness. I’ve heard it so many times, but yesterday I actually experienced it. He gave me the strength to do my job, and to care for this hurting woman. I didn’t think I could handle it emotionally-I even told the ER doc I didn’t think I could do it. I did though, with strength that I would not have had without my Jesus.
When I got home, I immediately found my husband, hugged him, and told him I was so glad he was alive. He laughed and said, “thank you”. I went to bed last night with a truly thankful heart that he was lying next to me, and that our baby was sleeping soundly in his crib.
I would like to end this post by thanking counselors out there who listen to troubles of others day after day, and provide hurting people, like this mother with relief from her pain. I could not do their job. Each time this woman was forced to re-tell this gruesome story to family, police, our staff, etc, it drove her pain, and the mental image deeper.
These expreiences have a way of sticking to your heart. Love on your family today and always.