It was still dark as I parked at the hospital Saturday morning. I opened my phone to silence the ringer before going upstairs when I saw a message that we were seriously short-staffed that day. I stared at those awful words for a long moment, then I put my phone back in my pocket, and just sat there.
I simply couldn’t get out of the car.
I’ve been fighting a real battle for the last two weeks to just stay at my baseline. Some mysterious “something” has been poking at my Lupus lately, and I’ve been getting poked back with a persistently weary queasiness, and some incredibly stiff, painful joints. No fun.
I really wanted to face my scheduled weekend of work with enthusiasm and energy, but instead, I had awoken Saturday morning only feeling “okay enough” to muscle through. As you know, I call these my “yellow light days“.
It was my weariness that made reading those words on my phone so particularly devastating. As difficult as the rough days of nursing can be, most people I know can just go home after their shift, sleep it off, and move on.
But, that is not the Lupus life at all.
For me, everything, anything, and absolutely nothing at all can randomly trigger a whole cascade of events that can rob you of an entire month (or more) of your life as this ugly monster rages inside of you (check out “when the spin just stops being funny” from last October).
So I live my life walking on eggshells trying to be a good girl, choking down all my pills and avoiding all the no-no’s of my life. This is how I balance illness and living my life. Believe me, it’s a very delicate dance.
Which is why I just couldn’t get out of the car.
Many of you familiar with my story know the mysterious timing of my last few years: I was called to nursing later in life … fought through five long years of nursing school … finally graduated with my BSN at age FIFTY … only to then be diagnosed with Lupus, and actually beginning my treatment the very same week I started working on my current unit. Pretty crazy, right?
I have no idea why God brought all this into my life at the same time, I just know that he did. And he did it on purpose. He does everything on purpose.
Well-meaning people tell me all the time that I should just quit nursing. Or they say I should leave the bedside for nonclinical options. Or at least switch away from my crazy, high-pressured unit. And admittedly there are nights when I come home and I head straight to my computer to look for different job possibilities.
Yet something keeps me there. In nursing. Right at the bedside. On my current unit.
And, let me assure you, it’s not a fear of change. (Look who turned their beautiful life completely upside down to become a nurse at age 50?) And it’s sure not because I’m too lazy and comfortable to go through making a switch. Anybody who really knows Debi would never call me lazy.
What keeps me right where I am is an indescribable, undeniable sense of beautiful peace that I’m exactly where I’m supposed to be. It’s just that simple.
And in spite of the words I had just read on my phone, I suddenly felt that peace wash over me all over again Saturday morning sitting out there in my dark car.
“Come follow me, Debi. We’re going back up that ramp.”
He’s told me this before … many times. But I had let my weakened, sinful discouragement forget it that morning. Until it came ringing through loud and clear again right there in my car.
I’m exactly where he wants me to be.
Even though it doesn’t make sense sometimes. Even though I’m sick. Even through all the chaos. Even though the short-staffed days happen. Even though sometimes patients get crazy. Even though there are days I can’t wait to shower off the absolute grossness of nursing. And even though the good days of nursing are still not easy days.
He leads me right back up that ramp, and I’m so thankful he does because I absolutely love what I do. I love where I do it, I love how we do it, and I love the people I do it with. And I even loved every moment of this past weekend because He showed me so much.
It’s truly amazing to step into people’s stories and help them when they’re at their most vulnerable. I still can’t believe I get to do that, and I’ll never, ever get over that honor.
I can’t believe all that I’ve learned through the last 10 years of first studying, and now practicing both the art and science of nursing. Believe me, it takes creativity to apply all that science to human beings.
I can’t believe that yesterday I walked into a sweet patient’s room who had recently lost everything, and I found her lying in her bed, eyes closed, desperately lifting up prayers for ME. I was stunned.
I can’t believe that yesterday I got to hold another patient’s hand as he laughed and told me jokes. The day before he couldn’t open his eyes or even speak at all. This moment was amazing.
I can’t believe that yesterday I stood beside a doctor as a devastated wife learned about hospice. I watched her face change from panic, to a sad acceptance, to finally a sweet, faith-filled strength. I can’t believe I got to be the one to hug her afterwards.
My point with all of this is, even though it was a tough weekend, it was filled with his beautiful purpose. God had things for me to see, learn, and do right in the middle of all that chaos. He made that abundantly clear to me while leading me up that ramp Saturday morning, and even more so today as I rest and tell you about it.
I also know that through any difficulties I’ve faced in my life, He’s met me right there in the middle of my ugly with the sweet grace of mercy. If things had been easy for me, I doubt I would’ve noticed this. This is what’s grown my faith so strong.
And, when it becomes time for me to make a change in my nursing … I know that God will let me know in his own perfect way which direction I should go. Until then, I press on in faith and confidence that this is exactly where I need to stay, until the day he leads me elsewhere.
Thanks for growing with me. ❤
“Now may the God of peace … equip you with everything good for doing his will, and may he work in us what is pleasing to him, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.” (Hebrews 13:20-21)