I am a nurse working in an Intensive Care Unit (ICU). Since March, I have been working with both patients positive for COVID-19, and negative for COVID-19, depending on the day and the needs of the hospital. The ICUs, along with the rest of the hospital, have always been busy, even prior to the craziness of 2020. It seems that COVID-19 has exacerbated this business, testing the breaking point of each unit and each hospital. I’ve witnessed coworkers go through seasons of exhaustion and burnout, as I myself have fought to find the motivation to approach each shift with a positive attitude and a heart to serve my coworkers, my patients, and my patients’ families. COVID-19 or no COVID-19, my coworkers and I have seen and experienced things that some of you could never imagine (as I’m sure some of you have been through things that I could not even begin to comprehend).
Watching a patient struggle to breathe as he calls his wife right before being intubated, hearing the panic and defeat in her voice, wondering if this will be the last time they ever get to speak to each other.
Blood baths like I never thought possible.
Telling a mother, who was on the way to the hospital when her son died, that I made sure he was comfortable and that I held his hand, so he did not die alone.
Watching a wife lie next to her husband for the last time–wailing, screaming, asking his dead body why he had to die.
Along with these, there are so many more stories of heartache, of ethical dilemmas, and of moral distress that I dare not share. This is real, this is happening in hospitals, every day and every night. It wears me down, it consumes my thoughts, and it threatens to suck the life right out of me. Yet somehow, I show up to work night after night. How? Not by my own strength. If I were doing this job by my own strength, I would have quit years ago–I’m not strong enough for that. I have to give all of the credit and honor and glory to God. As God says to Paul so beautifully in 2 Corinthians 12:9, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness”(ESV). This job reminds me daily of my weakness and desperate need for Christ. Yes, I still need encouragement from family, friends, and sometimes even strangers, but no, I am not a healthcare hero. I am just an ordinary girl, with an incredible God. A God who has taken my heart of stone, and mushed it all up through this beautiful profession we call nursing. Any endurance, any love, any empathy that I’ve given is fully from God, because God is love. Left to my own sinfulness and imperfection, I would have no patience, no compassion, and definitely no love for others. I would run from the messy, from the emotions, from the heartache (and sadly sometimes, I still do!). I thank God that He knows what I need to get through each shift, and that He gives it to me. On days when I feel weary, and feel that I have nothing left to give, God renews my strength. As Isaiah 40:31 says, “but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.” I praise God for the joy that He gives me amongst the struggles, and the beauty that I get to witness amongst the messiness. I am thankful for the support of my family and friends, the inspiration from my incredible co-workers (my work family) that I have the privilege to work alongside, and most of all, my faithful God.