On Valentine’s Day, I wasn’t eating a candlelit dinner with the man of my dreams. Heck, I wasn’t even sitting alone in my room watching RomComs and downing a pint of Cherry Garcia. I was at my clinical, on a med-surg floor caring for patients.
Each week, we select a patient to care for. We look up their diagnoses, make sure we know what drugs they’re taking and what they’re for, acquaint ourselves with their medical history, and ensure that we can provide competent and thorough care for them during our eight hour shift. But on February 14th, it wasn’t the patient I prepared for that changed my life…it was the patient I never planned on meeting.
As I paced around the unit trying to find something to do, I saw a call bell flash in the hallway. When I stopped into the room to see what I could do, I found a woman who had been ill for many years sitting with her husband. She was in pain, but unfortunately as students we can’t independently pass meds. So I found her nurse and managed to forget about her for a little while as I answered call bells on the floor and finished my assessments on my assigned patient.
But as God would have it, I wasn’t done with that woman. I stopped to check that she had received her medication and found her and her husband chatting with a family friend – a pastor. So I left them be and went on. A little while later, I answered her call bell again. As I helped her with compression stockings, we got to talking and she shared with me how her chronic condition had affected not only her physical health, but her emotional health and her relationships. She said that between how she looked and how she felt she felt as if she couldn’t be a mother or a wife anymore.
As she began to cry, I remembered the pastor that had been in her room earlier. I asked her and her husband if they would like me to pray with them, and they gratefully accepted. As I took their hands in mine and began to speak, it felt as if the words were coming from somewhere deep inside me – it was my voice filling the air, but the words were not mine. I firmly believe that God spoke through me that night. As I finished my prayer, I was fighting back tears as the woman let them flow freely. She told me that as she listened to prayer and watched my face, she heard and saw God in her hospital room with her.
Nursing isn’t just about treating the physical manifestations of disease. It is about treating the whole person and nurturing their mind and spirit while you help to heal their body. That night, I was closer to God than I ever had been before. I called home at the end of my shift, almost in tears myself and joyfully told my mother that I had found my calling. That night, that patient, that condition, that prayer – they had forever changed my life. I will be forever grateful for the opportunity to be as Jesus was when I care for my patients. And I will be forever grateful to have found nursing.