Saturday, May 21, 2011

Trust Needed

Woke up with malaria this morning. Last time it was .05% (mild). This time it is .10% (moderate). Strange since I almost convinced myself it was my imagination. Thankfully I decided to get tested anyway.

Yesterday was one of those days that made me sit and think. I'll tell you about it.

It was a discouraging day at work. I was working Maternity. I'd helped mop the delivery room, sweep the whole ward, checked my charts, visited our four patients and aided in consultations. However when Danae rounded she caught a glaring nursing error I should have noticed. A post-op patient had not received any pain medication (Tylenol and Ibuprofen) since the surgery the previous day. I felt like kicking myself. There were a couple other minor things that made me feel like I didn't have both oars in the water. "What am I doing here?" I wondered. How can I try so hard and yet still miss the simplest things and make silly mistakes. Discouragement descended on me like a cloud. I began making excuses like : "If it wasn't for those illegible French orders . . ." or "If I could only understand 20 more languages maybe I'd know what was going on around here." But then I despised myself for making excuses. On the outside I maintained a cheerful, resilient exterior, but inside there was a struggle. I was tired of giving medicines, struggling with bad I.V's and not being able to communicate with my patients. All around me were good things. I learned how to greet people in 3 more languages and got some kids to smile. Every nurse I met in the halls greeted me affectionately with a hearty handshake or called out "Good work" as I hauled soapy cleaning water. Despite these good things I felt like leaving and not coming back. The hours seemed to creep and I constantly had to choose to focus on service, not self.

It was almost time to go home. I was counting the minutes. There was a dump-truck load of laundry waiting for me at home and I was anxious to get started. Just then someone mentioned the word "delivery". I dropped everything and ran. As I stuck my head in the door my fellow nurse, Juliette, told me to call Danae. I saw an umbilical cord hanging out and was instantly running toward Netteburg’s house while reaching for my phone. I got Danae on the phone and she gave instructions, saying she was on her way. Back in the delivery room I quickly checked for a fetal heart rate and got 104 bpm. We rushed her to the Block and I called Danae to let her know the baby was still alive. I began holding the head off the cord and instructing the mother not to push. No matter how much I commanded and demonstrated panting, she still bore down with each contraction. My two fingers were no match for her muscular uterus. When Danae arrived she was wheeled into OR with me in-tow. They hurriedly prepped her and covered both her and me with the sterile drape. It was strange being down there, my face next to her urine soaked skirt, my fingers the only thing between the baby and death. My fingers were hurting and I felt I wasn't able to hold the baby up enough anymore. I asked to glove my other hand and switch out. Danae said "No, you're doing fine. Sorry, but we'll be done soon." It felt like forever. My toes curled up as they tried to dig into the cement in sympathy with my burning fingers. Just when I thought I couldn't last another minute, the baby’s head was suddenly gone. Only after I felt the prolapsed cord slither past my fingers did I hesitantly take them out. There was a flurry of activity as they resuscitated the baby and sought to suction out the profuse meconium. He came around eventually. I never lose the wonder of watching babies open their eyes for the first time and look around. It was amazing to look into the face of this little one I helped save.

Right on the heels of this excitement came another emergency. A girl with what appeared to be a placental abruption was brought into the Block while Danae was still closing up the first woman. I checked the fetal heart rate and got 140. Pretty good considering all the blood she was losing. We switched out patients and began prepping the new patient for a C-section, even though she was only 7 1/2 months. It didn’t look too promising for the baby. I looked over at the girl sitting naked on the table. Silent tears streamed down her cheeks. She looked so scared. I walked over and laid a comforting hand on her arm. Sometimes Tchadians pull away from being comforted but surprisingly she took my hand. I squeezed it and began lightly rubbing her shoulders. She put her other arm around me and before I knew it she had leaned her head on my chest. I held her as the tears continued to roll. When it was time for the spinal she leaned forward, wrapped both arms around me and hid her face in my neck like a little child. My heart went out to her and I held her with the tenderness I would want if I was in her place. Before scrubbing in, Danae ask me to place the Foley. As I was cleaning the area I saw something spurting blood like a little hose. "What's that?" I ask. Danae walked up and squinted. She'd never seen anything like it. A quick search revealed the source of all that blood was not the cervix, but rather the little bleeder thing which was simply sutured. "Way to save a baby's life Heather." Danae said." You get the Nurse of the Day Award today. If you hadn't asked about that thing I would have just gone ahead with the surgery and possibly lost a healthy baby." I shrugged. It was nothing heroic. I ruefully thought how just that morning I had been feeling like a complete failure.

I was reflective as I scrubbed my clothes that night. I had gone from the depths of despair to relieved happiness in one work day. I had gone from feeling utterly useless to feeling needed. God was trying to teach me something. I was serving Him just as much when mopping the floors as I was helping save a baby's life. I am too quick to lose heart and become frustrated at my own inabilities. God knows what He is doing. I need more trust.

"If you but trust in God to guide you and put your confidence in Him
You'll find Him always there beside to give you hope and peace within"

"I am still confident of this: I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.
Wait for the Lord; Be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.”
Psalm 27: 14

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