Note: I wrote this blog prior to the Miss America pageant this past weekend but I have been waiting to post so I could include a copy of the gorgeous painting referenced however, in light of the new #nursesunite movement spun from ignorant comments made on The View...I am going to share early and I will include the picture once I get back from traveling. I might not carry a stethoscope every day but I very much recognize the "talent" involved in nursing. This blog was originally going to be titled "Death Angel" but it definitely describes My View on My Nursing Career...
The first Christmas I was a nurse, my sister gave me a painting of a beautiful angel standing in a fiery pit of flames against a backdrop of a bright blue sky. She said it was her interpretation of what I did each day as a nurse. She equated the angel with the hope surrounding pediatric critical care nursing but she painted the environment as a fire pit of hell since I worked with so much death and dying. The painting was unique and different but I loved it. It still hangs in my home office as a reminder of her wisdom and insight into my career. Almost 11 years ago and her perspective is still so very relevant.
Several weeks ago a local news story captured a glimpse of pediatric congenital heart nursing and I happened to be featured in the story. (Link to article/segment: News Story) I was a bit overwhelmed and very humbled by the article because I was under the impression the article was going to focus on the American Heart Association’s Annual Heart Walk. The article seemed to highlight more the bond between a nurse and a pediatric patient battling congenital heart disease. And although the work I do as a nurse manager each and every day is more focused on taking care of the nurses that care for patients, just a few days after the story aired, I found myself right back in that fiery pit depicted by my sister. In a relatively rare occasion as a nurse manager, I found myself actually doing patient care and helping another nurse care for a dying patient. And I was quickly taken back to the painting of the angel.
As nurses who work with dying children, we really do work in a hell-like setting. The torment, pain and suffering surrounding both our patients and their parents is like nothing else on this earth. I cannot put into words the way it feels to kneel at a patient’s bedside and pray for a miracle with a mother because you’ve reached a point where medicine cannot heal. Or how it feels to start doing CPR because a child no longer has a self-sustaining heart rate (Just a note: this particular intervention makes you feel like a ravaged, cruel beast more so than an angel or savior). Or the overwhelming defeat you feel while handing over a deceased baby to be held by his/her parents for the very last time. There is no way to describe these experiences but ‘hell’ is a pretty good attempt at a description.
I have absolutely no idea why I went into pediatric nursing. And although I work in a pretty fiery pit…I choose to focus on the bright blue sky. I choose to focus on the hope and the healing. I choose to focus on the little ways God can use me in this field to help bring a family through what will likely be the most challenging, painful, and difficult time in their lives. I choose to let God use me. I choose to focus on the bonds I form with nurses, patients and families. Because honestly, these bonds are like no other and I would not trade them for anything in the world. As a nurse, you often find yourself going through experiences with patients and families that no one else in the world understands – even others in their own family do not experience what a nurse goes through with the family - the nurse travels uncharted waters. It is such a special, unique bond and for some reason God has always given me a heart for it. And even though it often feels like the outskirts of hell, I am humbled that the Lord chose me for this small honor on earth.
He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. All these things are gone forever.
A nurse, an angel and a fire pit,
Just a few reflections about everything God is teaching me in this life...a journey deeper into His purpose for my life.