Florence Nightingale

Florence Nightingale
Nursing is an art: and if it is to be made an art, It requires an exclusive devotion as hard a preparation, as any painter's or sculptor's work; for what is the having to do with dead canvas or dead marble, compared with having to do with the living body, the temple of God's spirit? It is one of the Fine Arts: I had almost said, the finest of Fine Arts. - Florence Nightingale

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

A shot in the dark (something a nurse should never attempt)

To blog or not to blog? What worthwhile words could I possibly express that haven't already been submitted into the abyss known as the world wide web?  What is a blog anyhow? Why do millions of aspiring writers and relative narcissists worldwide believe the world at large will benefit from their web log of social commentaries, current events, unique narratives, and whatever else is included in these excerpts? Could I ever have the potential of stirring up such a great following as the Pioneer Woman when I have no delicious recipes to share or harrowing first-hand stories of cows and horses running wild on an Oklahoma ranch? Do I possess the charming wit and wisdom of the Naked Pastor? These questions have plagued my ever-wandering mind for nearly a year, and I have finally surrendered to this itch that must be scratched. I hold no expectations or hopes or wishes for what this site will become -- I simply possess a verbal portion of my brain that is begging to be tickled and stimulated by more than the short-handed narratives of emails and facebook posts.

I'm a nurse. Much more than that, I am an oncology nurse. I graduated in the Spring of 2009 and have since adopted the label of "nurse" as more than a name for my career choice. It has become a part of my identity. My job is much more than a means of supporting myself, it is a way of life. I cannot simply clock in, do my job, and clock out. I carry the weight of my patients and their burdens with me home and they often haunt my dreams and keep me awake at night. The good, the bad, the ugly, I become intricately and intimately woven into the complicated tapestries of patients' lives and the lives of their families as I walk beside them and hold their hands while they weather the devastating storms of cancer treatment. I did not choose this career path -- the Lord chose it for me. Romans 12:12-13 has been written on my heart by His ever-loving hand as he has called me to:
        "Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Share with God's people who are in need. Practice hospitality."

I have begun to consider recently that my calling may go far beyond the care I provide my patients in the hospital setting. Their stories and beautiful experiences as they battle for their lives go largely untold. In my opinion, they do not receive the support or recognition they deserve for the bravery and nobility they display everyday. So that's what I intend to do. This blog is intended to provide insight into the beautiful heartache that is oncology.

The stories I tell are not my own to claim. The Lord is the author of these peoples' lives...I am merely the witness and scribe. What I get to do everyday is witness humanity in its most broken form. Sometimes I witness people who are literally at the end of their ropes and struggling to grasp onto any lifeline they can find. Sometimes they are so desperate to feel alive and thriving that they will cling to any life-form in their vicinity. Sometimes I am that lifeline; sometimes I am that lifeform they must cling to in order to flourish. I have often felt encouraged and inspired by the words and prayers of Mother Teresa. She experienced and understood and loved broken humanity better than any other historical figure, and she never wavered from her commitment to the orphans and widows and downtrodden of Calcutta. When I feel myself getting burnt out by the searing pain and loss experienced in the cancer ward, I turn to her.

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace:
where there is hatred let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, light;
where there is sadness, joy.
Lord, may I not so much seek to be consoled as to console;
to be understood as to understand;
to be loved as to love.
Because it is in giving that we receive,
in pardoning that we are pardoned. Amen.

So this is the prayer I have claimed as my own. May I be an instrument of peace, and provide for my patients and their families whatever they truly need at that point in time. May I be intuitive enough to know where there is injury, doubt, despair, sadness. May I be a joyful scribe, witnessing and relaying the stories of my precious, broken population of patients.