When your world shifts

Every once in awhile something happens and my world shifts. Sometime it’s big, like having a baby, a missions trip. Other times small, a blog post an encounter. Whatever it is I come out the other side of it a different person. Suddenly things that seemed to matter don’t. It’s almost as if each day is spent going through the list of things in my life demanding attention and reevaluating them. I feel like I see the world differently.

My world shifted this week. A patient of mine almost died. It’s hard to believe in 7yrs of nursing this is the first time this has happened to me. I’m sure there have been patients who were close, but I never knew it, whether it be after my shift or because of my inexperience. This one I knew. She bled out in front of me. I watched her lips go white as her consciousness faded. The expression “life blood” I know what it means now. I’ve see it leave a person. I had death in the room with me and fought it with every fibre.

I learned things about myself. That I can be calm and start IV’s in really high pressured situations. That I can pray with all my heart while I stand outside pharmacy waiting for med. “God save her please.” I didn’t want her last thought on this earth to be me taking her new baby out of her arms as she slipped from us. I learned that I can’t “leave work at work.” I have been haunted daily by the experience. I’ve learned I don’t know how to talk about how I feel as well as I can write it.  I’ve learned that I know more than I though and that there is so much I don’t know. I now know what it feels like to really crash after an adrenalin rush. I’ve never been so close to vomiting in the parking lot.

I’ve been shocked by the conflicting desire to go back to work because “wow, I can do this.” and daily searching other career options because I can’t stomach the thought of going back. I’ve learned that baby tigers tumbling around under their mother’s close supervision can be worship and therapy. That pumpkin spice lattes can be self care and that’s ok.

I’ve realized that nurses often can’t just “talk about it”. There is confidentiality and a big huge “too much” factor. Too much blood. Too close to home. Too much reality. Too much to stomach. This is when I appreciate my nurse friends. The ones I can be in near tears with in line for the penguin  exhibit. The ones who talk even after a long night shift.  The ones who listen and share the load. The fear. It dulls with time but every once in awhile I”m reminded that daily I hold life in my hands and where there is life, death lurks not far behind. I’ve held death too. It’s too much. This time though death didn’t win. Not completely, but the fear is there.

I ‘ve doubted my stomach for Labour and Delivery which invokes my deepest fear. The one where I don’t actually have what  it takes to be a midwife. In true mother fashion I shove the emotions and create beautifully crafted lunches for first days of kindergarten. I pretend I have something left to do the homeschool part of our blended kindergarten program. I create fiction to work through the reality. Who knew writing fiction was so therapeutic? Then I take a moment and sit. I listen to good music and I write because I can’t keep it inside me anymore. There is relief in the sharing, freeing the emotions from the dark recesses of my mind. They seem less intimidating somehow in the light of admittance.

Deep Breath. Music. Dinner. A glass of wine. Maybe I will make it back, but I won’t be the same person or the same nurse.

Linking with Emily for Imperfect Prose.

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  • http://twitter.com/lorimcspeaks Lori McClure

    Wow. I’ve often wondered if I would have what it takes to be a nurse. After reading this, I feel pretty certain I don’t. I also feel pretty certain that you are a writer, my friend. So, write on :)

    • http://sacredeveryday.ca/ Jenn

      That’s the weird part…most days I don’t think I do either. I wonder if other nurses feel that way. It’s not something we really talk about. Thanks for stopping by. Your words brought tears to my eyes which is good. I normally handle things by crying but haven’t let myself yet over this.

  • http://www.carisadel.com/ Caris Adel

    well I would love to have you as my nurse, having had you gone through that experience. I had a placental abruption, and didn’t realize how serious it was at the time, but I saw the fear in the nurse’s eyes, and that scared me. I would think having a nurse who had walked that path before would be more reassuring. You won’t be the same nurse – you will be a better one :)

    • http://sacredeveryday.ca/ Jenn

      Yikes! That would be so scary! I had a shoulder dystocia with my first and the insane calm off the midwifes made such a huge difference. I’m glad in this situation though my heart was dropping out of my feet I was able to stay calm. It’s always been my biggest fear that I would totally lose it and be no good use to anyone!

  • vsharp

    Obviously God has given you a gift to be able to do what you do. You have made it real for me, someone who has always been on the other side and taking what you do for granted. I will appreciate nurses more going forward and I pray that God will make clear to you what he wants you to do. God bless you for writing and sharing with those of us who need to hear this message.

    • http://sacredeveryday.ca/ Jenn

      Knowing that God has given me a gift is what keeps me going back, otherwise I could never do it. Thank you for your encouragment. I needed it this week.

  • http://somuchshoutingsomuchlaughter.com/ suzannah | the smitten word

    oh jenn, i wish i could make a pot of tea and just listen a bit. this is a heavy load, but you don’t bear it alone. xo

    • http://sacredeveryday.ca/ Jenn

      That sounds like a small piece of heaven! I’ll settle for your kind words hear.

  • Kit

    I’m coming over from Emily’s. Thanks for this. I found it really powerful and gave me a glimpse of what it is like to be a nurse. Thanks for caring so deeply and for writing this! Blessings!

    • http://sacredeveryday.ca/ Jenn

      Thanks for coming, glad I could pull back the curtain a bit. I”m constantly amazed at the wonderful women (and men) I work with.

  • http://www.WhimsySmitten.com/ Cara Sexton

    Wow, what an intense experience. Prayers for you friend, for the way you process all of this and for what the future holds.

    • http://sacredeveryday.ca/ Jenn

      Greatly appreciated! As much as it’s been a shaking experience it’s also been grounding if that makes sense.

  • http://twitter.com/JimLovasz Jim Lovasz

    Did you ever think about getting into writing? LOL, just a targeted understatement. I was just impressed with the manner in which you have alliterated such a tense emotional experience and your very personal response. Well done on a number of levels.

    • http://sacredeveryday.ca/ Jenn

      Thanks dad, I’m always surprise at how much better I feel apter putting “pen to paper” so to speak….finger to keyboard. You’ll love the fiction scene I got out of that one!

  • Jennifer Richardson

    my sister is a labor and delivery nurse and I’ve heard her heart wobble and wrestle with those hard things
    and I just want to say how glad and grateful I am that women like you do what you do…..that you’re there for
    the beginnings and coach life into this world……coach aliveness into being. Its a beautiful thing and i cheer
    for you both:)
    There is more than enough God for this, braveheart.

    • sacredeveryday

      I feel my heart so torn. Today was my first day back and I can’t deny that it feels right, but it can be oh so difficult. Time to lean in God more for sure!

  • Emily Wierenga

    thank you. for reliving this so we could know. what you go through, day in and day out, you nurses and doctors, you who fight death on our behalf. i was so moved by this post. by your heart, by all that you sacrifice daily. thank you.

    • sacredeveryday

      To be able to share in this amazing community and have so much encouragement has been a huge blessing!