Thursday, August 18, 2016

Reality

I JUST FLEW IN A PRIVATE LEARJET!!! I know, I couldn’t believe it either. It was the most incredible experience of my life. I’d never flown in one before so when I found out that one of my friends had an uncle who flew for Hess Jet, I asked if I could fly with him sometime. Well, it turns out he was making a trip to the Cayman Islands a couple of days ago and invited me along.  It was an Eclipse 500 (so technically not a Learjet, but close enough) with a cruise well over 300 miles per hour. We took off from the Chattanooga airport as the sun was just rising over the surrounding hills. I leaned back in the plush leather seat, propping my feet up as I watched the city lights fade beneath me in the morning sun. I was going to try and stay awake for the entire experience, but somewhere over the Gulf of Mexico my eyes drifted closed as the comfort of that luxurious jet enveloped me. I was awakened a couple hours later as we neared the private island where we were to pick up our passengers. The island was large yet I couldn’t see any runway. I asked Mr. Calyer, the pilot, where we were going to land and he started laughing. “Just you wait and see!”  He called in his approach on the radio and suddenly, one of the cliffs that were facing us began to open up, revealing a runway hidden inside. “Wow!” I thought. “I thought this was only in the movies.” I returned to my seat and prayed the pilot had as good an aim as William Tell. I looked out the window at the glistening ocean beneath. Beautiful music began emanating throughout the cabin as I leaned back in the seat. The music grew louder. I felt more and more drowsy. Suddenly, I was dreaming that I was back in my bed at home, with the alarm playing on my nightstand. “This is odd,” I thought. “Why would I go to sleep right before the most exciting landing in my aviation history?” I lay in bed contemplating on this most perplexing thought and hoping I’d wake up soon. I pinched myself. It hurt. I looked at my clock again and the word “work” seemed to be floating loosely around in my brain. Everything was so realistic; my fan, the room, the stuffed animals. “I’ve spent way too much time in that room I guess…” I desperately tried to wake up. Suddenly, I began to doubt whether I was dreaming or not. Reality seemed to be a loose concept as I struggled to understand what was happening. Oh dear. Perhaps the jet never happened. It was all just a dream…

I quickly got ready for work and then drove to the hospital. My dream had been so realistic that during the whole drive to the hospital, I kept remembering exact details from my flight. It literally felt like I had been on that jet. After getting report on my patients, I walked in to the first room. “Good evening, my name’s Seth and I’m going to be your nurse tonight! How ya doing?” I grinned good-naturedly as I walked over to the pt’s bedside. “I’m good! Did you know everything you learned in school is a lie?” Everything? Well now. I’m still paying off student loans so that bit of news was definitely not what I wanted to hear right now! First the jet was a lie, now all my schooling too? Am I dreaming again? I pinched myself just to be sure, causing nothing more than a second bruise to form. “I was not aware of that but I sure am appreciative of you for pointing it out to me.” Sometimes I become sarcastic no matter how hard I try not to be. “It’s true. What was the first thing you saw when you started Kindergarten?” “Well let me think for a minute. The couch. … My pajamas! … My mom?” “Oh you were homeschooled.” “Now that you mention it, that sure does sound familiar,” I laughed as I pulled out my stethoscope. “But you still had a globe,” she continued, “Did you know Satan invented that? The earth is flat.” I stopped right where I was. I’d heard these people existed, but I never thought I’d get to meet one in person. In my hospital even! Under my care no less!! “No way, is it really??” I gasped. “How do we keep from falling off?” “There’s an ice wall around the entire planet,” she seemed so confident I had to admire her spirit. “And what about the planes that have flown around the world?” “They were flying in a big circle.” “And Antarctica?” “It’s just the part of the ice wall the Masons want to tell us about.” “Hold on, the Masons are keeping this secret from us? That’s infuriating!!” “Yep, they’re in cahoots with the devil. They’re the ones that funded NASA.” “Right, because we never went to the moon.” “Exactly! It was all a film production. You can even see a Coke bottle sitting on the moon in the unedited video clip of Neil Armstrong.” “And Gus Grissom?” “He and the others were about to expose the whole program so NASA eliminated them. Every single astronaut that died did so because they were going to expose the lie. They were all 33 degree masons you know.” I was getting really excited by now.  Sometimes I have dull patients who talk about nothing more than Pokemon Go, other times I have combative patients, or angry patients, or sad patients, but never before in my life did I have a patient who had so much life-changing information to share!  I was riveted. “Do you believe in God?” she continued. “Yes ma’am I do!” “Well in the Bible, it says He uses the earth as His footstool. Can you imagine God standing on a beach ball?” We both laughed heartily; for different reasons I’m guessing. “And remember where God says the angels are holding back strife from the four corners of the earth? Where do you find corners on a globe?” There are times when I enter into a lively conversation and throw a different perspective into the train of thought, but clearly today was not one of those days. Today was a listening day. One assessment and 67 undiscovered truths later, I was ready to leave the room. “I have thoroughly enjoyed talking to you, young man!” she stated emphatically as I walked out the door. “I’ve enjoyed it too!” I wasn’t lying.

“Can you help me with one of my patients?” One of the other nurses met me in the hall. “Apparently she likes guys and she won’t do anything for me. I can’t get her to answer questions or take meds.” I walked in to the room. Immediately the patient perked up. “Well hello there young man! You look good tonight.” “Mmmmm, yes ma’am I do, thanks for noticing! But tonight’s not about me, it’s about you. Let’s get you some meds here.” “Oh of course.” I sighed. Tonight was just getting weirder. Was I still dreaming, perhaps? The nurse out in the hall caught my eye and began something which resembled a cackling seizure episode.

I walked in to another patient room to continue my rounds. A relative was sitting on the seat next to the bed. “Good evening!!” I said. “Well you look chipper tonight,” she said, not taking her eyes off the cellphone in her hands. “Well you look glum tonight,” I thought. But for all the times I say things and realize I shouldn’t have afterwards, I can thank the good Lord that He does have a check on my mouth every now and again. I told them all the reasons why I was chipper and why I was excited to be caring for them that evening. “You a believer?” Same tone. Same nonchalance. “Yes ma’am, I’m a Seventh-day Adventist.” “No way!” Her face immediately lit up and she looked up from her phone. “Have you heard of David Asscherick?” And so began a long story of how her and her husband had been invited to an Adventist church in their hometown when David Asscherick was speaking there.  He remembered them by name each evening when he saw them, which made a huge impact on them. When her husband unexpectedly died a few short days later, the church rallied to support her with welcoming arms. “I’m not Adventist yet, but I go to the church and believe everything they teach so far,” she finished. “I figured you were an Adventist. I could tell when you walked in the door. I’m sure a lot of people tell you how vibrant you are.” Whenever I was in the room, we spent the rest of the night talking about our faith and I shared my personal testimony with them.

Every night is different. I’m always meeting new people. Some make a huge impact on me while others I forget about a few weeks after they leave the floor. Sometimes I think I’m dreaming, other times I wish I was dreaming. I’ve gotten to pray with patients, talk with patients, laugh with them and cry with them. Yes there are the bedpans I’ve got to empty, the blood I must clean up after the AMS patients pull their IVs out, the vomit, the sickness, the drudgery of meds and diets and lab sticks. But at the end of the day, or night, I realize once again why God called me to nursing. I schedule 5 minutes during my first rounds - stethoscope down, computer off, my full attention on the patient - to have a heart-to-heart with them. Personally, I think it’s even more important than the meds I’m administering or the assessment I’m doing because we all want to be heard, understood, and cared for. I thank God that I was given the opportunity to do exactly that. This reality is far better than any dream I could hope for.

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