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Where We Need To Be

Although I've questioned Him, I believe that God puts me where I need to be when I need to be there.

Today I had the privilege to go for lunch with a group of ladies, all of whom I've worked with at some point over the last twenty eight years. We've all left our profession now -- some years ago and some more recently.

As I looked along the row of tables, at the women seated across from one another, I reminisced.

I've laughed with each of these special human beings, and cried with most of them as well. All of us have had a history of working, in a nursing capacity, on the same obstetrical unit. We cared for women at a very special, yet vulnerable, time in their lives. We held hands, rubbed backs, listened to heartbeats and whispered encouraging words to many. We'd cry sometimes too -- most often happy tears -- but sometimes tears of profound sadness with those whose hearts were shattered.

Thankfully, most of the time when the new person emerged, we were able to rejoice at the miracle of it all.

Nursing is a strange profession ... certainly unlike many others. Nothing ever stays the same and literally anything -- from the quite hilarious to the completely somber; from the sweetest of moments to the most bizarre; from the joyous to completely devastating -- can happen at any time and, often, at the same time.

When things seem calm, nurses are never fooled. It can, and will, change in seconds.

People depend on the knowledge and skill of their nurse, to help them through something as simple as an ingrown toenail, or the tightness in their chest that forecasts a failing heart.

Sometimes it takes only a bandage, popsicle or Tylenol to bring back a smile. Other times, a nurse's support is simply holding a hand, while having no answers, as families say goodbye to the very special person who has just been taken from them.

But all of it, from the least to the worst, etches a place in our own hearts because we can't possibly fully express or "debrief" every emotion we've felt, seen and heard over so many years.

Being a person who doesn't always find change easy I, in more recent times, caught myself thinking, "What am I doing here? Can I keep up with all this new technology? Can I accept that a computer now robs me of the time I used to spend at my patient's side?"

These gave me pause, but more of the questions I've asked myself, over all the years I nursed, were more like: "Did I advocate well for the people I was responsible for? Was I a good teacher and a positive example for the nurses coming along behind me? And ... have I made a difference in anyone else's life?"

I've thought, at times, that I should've chosen a different career. (I wonder, even more-so now, if there are any nurses who haven't thought that.) But then ... I smile, thinking of the miracles I've witnessed and the people I've had the honour to care for and work with along the way, and I know I wouldn't be the same if all of that hadn't happened.

Each of those women around that table today have seen many triumphs and many tragedies, both in their past profession and within their own personal lives. Their stories are rich with empathy, kindness and the love they've shown to others. And I ... have had the privilege to learn from them and know them. For that I will always thank God ... and praise Him for putting me exactly where He knew I needed to be.

Pattie Janzen

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