Nursing puts many vulnerable people in your path, by definition. Nurses care for the sick and injured, and we see plenty of both every single day. This vulnerability is especially tangible in the recovery room. Waking up from anesthesia, patients are disoriented, hurting, and confused… not to mention completely defenseless. I talked about one particular scenario that stood out to me on my Facebook a few weeks ago. It happened again this week, and had just as much of an impact.
Each time started the same way. Patient rolls out of the operating room, and I go through the motions. Hooking up monitors, assessing incisions, and monitoring vital signs. My anxiety always peaks during this initial contact, as I’m trying to decide exactly what each patient needs. In both of these cases, my nerves were especially frayed. Call it Type A, OCD, or perfectionism… I just want to leave everyone better off than when I found them. In the case of nursing, that means wanting the recovery process to go off without a hitch: all the way down to having the perfect number of blankets and never letting the pain get ahead of you.
In both cases, the patient had fairly extensive surgery and took a while to wake up. When they did finally open their eyes, both uttered the same word:
To be honest, this has probably happened many times before. Its not a strange occurrence for surgical patients to be thirsty upon waking; however, Jesus whispered a little louder in my ear through this seemingly insignificant event.
Have you ever held a straw to someone’s mouth who is very thirsty? Patients aren’t allowed to eat or drink starting at midnight before a procedure, so I can only imagine how dry-mouthed they become after such a long day. Water is crucial for life, and holding a cup to the mouth of someone who truly needs it is the perfect image of who I think Jesus is, and who He wants us to be.
For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’ – Matthew 25:35-36
Although Jesus often speaks in parables, I don’t think this was one of those times. Here I am, trying to do extraordinary things by Earthly standards, when my mission is simple: Feed my sheep. Our God is more than capable of the miracles, He just wants our hearts. I don’t always get it right, and more often than not, I happen upon the right thing by accident. It took getting eye level with these patients, a pause in my routine, to see that making a difference in this world doesn’t always take a grand gesture. Sometimes it just takes a cup and a straw, and some cold water.