There were many times when, if it weren’t for my faith in God, I would have never made it through my shift as a cardiac care nurse.
In my specialty, I cared for a lot of people whose lives teetered between life and death. Everything in me wanted them to live, but there was only so much we could do. From the beginning, however, the one thing I could do was pray, and I’d do just that, turning to God and praying that they would make it—that when I came back the next day—they’d still be in their bed. Sometimes, they were; but too often, they weren’t. After investing my heart and soul in trying to save them, losing a patient was like a kick in the teeth. Something inside me would scream, “This shouldn’t be happening! We’ve done everything to save him!”
That was in the beginning of my career, and I would rail against God for allowing such things to happen. Yet I’m a woman of faith, so I had some wrestling to do. It took me a good two years before it came to me. At first, it felt like God was working against me, then I realized he wasn’t. He’s the giver of life; not death. While he knows what’s going to happen and we don’t, he still the Great Physician, and in trying to heal my patients, I was actually joining his team, working in his territory, and treading on his ground.
One night, John’s heart started beating wildly. His heart rate got up to 240 beats per minute. He turned pale, was having trouble breathing, and started complaining of chest pains. We knew what was coming, and we took all the preventative measures, but he still went into cardiac arrest. We had done our best, but we couldn’t save him. The hardest part was going down the hallway to tell his wife, Heidi. John was only in his early 50’s. Heidi started crying, and I was crying right along with her. Then, I remembered something. I told her how I had learned that the last thing a patient loses was their hearing. A hospital chaplain first told me this, and it was later confirmed by two cardiologists. As I told her, John could hear for about 15 to 20 minutes after he was clinically dead, so if she would like to say goodbye and tell him how much she loved him, this would be the time to do it. Her relief and readiness were apparent, and I have no doubt she left his room with a peace she didn’t have when she entered. I thank God for this knowledge and for the comfort it brought to people like Heidi.
After a while, I came to see that God had equipped me not only to help bring physical healing, but also emotional comfort, and that I was part of his team no matter what happened. God and I were working together every day, and I could actually feel his presence in all the rooms.
I ended my career feeling like the luckiest nurse alive.