I was at my school yesterday sitting outside studying between classes. And as usual my mind wandered to anything but lab tests and lab values and lab diagnostics and lab blah blah blahs. I saw this light post alongside the main entrance to the school. And I immediately thought of the lamp post in the Chronicles of Narnia.
The evening I came to school for orientation over a year ago I felt a lot like Lucy stumbling into Narnia the first time. I was excited and enchanted but yet knock-kneed with apprehension. And not sure if I really wanted to proceed beyond the lamp post. I really had no idea what I was getting myself into. I had all these lofty idealized imaginations. And if I would have had an idea of the actuality of nursing school….I’ll just say it out loud…I may have chickened out. Actually, make that…I would have chickened out.
I told my Mom last night that I mourn the loss of my life as I once knew it – that was in reference to a really good book laying out in broad daylight calling my name. But no, I had to turn away from that book and stick my nose in the textbooks instead. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy studying. But there are limits to things, right? For some reason, this semester really has me feeling like I’m running at my max and yet never getting anywhere. And supposedly this semester is when things were supposed to lighten up for us part timers in the evening/weekend program. I just hope that somehow in all this studying there’s actually some things sticking in my brain.
Life as a nursing student is…, you know what, I don’t have any words to really embody what it is. It’s blood and sweat and tears, lots of them. It’s exhaustion, exhilaration. It’s studying till you’re cross-eyed, till your brain hurts with all the info you’ve inundated it with. It’s sleep deprivation. It’s 4 hour lectures after a day of work. It’s memorizing a myriad of medications that all sound the same but have different adverse effects. It’s nightmares that you overslept on clinical day and now a patient died because you weren’t there on time to intervene. It’s crying without warning at the smallest thing. It’s frustration. It’s missing out on fun social stuff. It’s working weekends instead of chilling on Saturdays and going to church on Sundays. It’s neglecting your family, your friends, and in my case, your horse. And the list could go on.
Like Narnia, the land of nursing school has its enchantments too. Nursing school is also giving a patient a back rub, holding their hand and listening to them; it’s seeing a baby enter this world and cuddling with them in the nursery; sometimes it’s simply the joy on a patient’s face when you bring them ice water or the sigh of relief when you help them bathe. It’s satisfaction in a good grade. It’s laughing till your sides ache at jokes that only nursing students think are funny. It’s the fun of horrifying your family/friends over dinner with tales of gruesome sights and facts that you thought were just pretty intriguing. It’s lifetime memories made with your close knit nursing class.
The most “enchanting” experience is the opportunity to work with patients. Which I might add is also the “scariest” thing as well. To realize that this is someone’s loved one that you are ministering too and that they are entrusting into your care. And too, the fact that I’m carrying not only the reputation of the school on my shoulders but more importantly, God’s reputation is at stake in me and the way I conduct myself. For better or for worse.
I’ve had some really good discussions about faith with my patients. You know we Christians can tend to be like Elijah and think that there’s only me left anymore. No one else is serving God anymore. But let me tell you, I’ve been blessed by the expressions of faith in God that I’ve heard coming from patients. The ones that make me tear up are the words of faith and trust I hear coming from patients who have been diagnosed with some kind of terminal illness.
I’m working on the cancer unit right now. It’s a place of sadness. But yet numerous patients have left an impression on me at how quick they are to say “The Good Lord has a plan in all this.” Or, “God knows what He’s doing.” It’s a challenge to me because I don’t know how quick I would be to say that if I’ve just received a diagnosis I wasn’t expecting and one that I know doesn’t have a cure.
Whew, don’t ask me how all this came from a glance at a regular old lamp post. My only answer is “Behold, we are fearfully and wonderfully (and mysteriously) made.”
Whatever lamp post may be at the entrance of your Narnia, may you have the strength and the courage to walk past it and embrace with awe the enchantment that your Father has called you into.