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Friday, November 15, 2013

Large Hearts, few hands

Our Paeds department had quite a week.  We are supposed to have 3 full time doctors, which includes one husband/wife pair who split the job 60/40.  One of the three dropped out with preterm labor and between that and her upcoming maternity leave will probably miss 6-7 months.  We are all terrified that work will push her to deliver early, and committed to going the extra mile to cover with just two instead of three.  So every day has a bit less margin, a bit more push.  December looks even more stressful because of the way leaves were planned, but I had hoped for a pretty stable November.  Then on Monday my remaining colleague was feeling sick, so he went home early with abdominal pain. I wondered with his wife about appendicitis, but he didn't think he was really that sick.  By Tuesday morning his appendix had ruptured and he was in emergency surgery.  Thankfully we have good surgeons and immediate attention and he will be fine, eventually.  But he's out for the indefinite future and so is his wife (mostly) to care for him, though she was able to work for the afternoon on Friday she will miss about a ten day stretch as well.  I was running around the hospital on Tuesday while they were in the theatre, just thinking about making it through the day post-call and Scott's Birthday with a small party planned for the evening, while trying to take care of all the patients on the general floor, the ICU, the NICU, delivery rooms, casualty, outpatient, private . . it gets a little crazy.

We watched part of the "Home Alone" movie at our last class night, and Julia surmised that evening that we should call Paeds "Work Alone".

But over the course of the day, I realized how NOT alone I really am.  As soon as I heard about my colleague going into surgery I texted the three clinical officers whom I had given an admin day "off" and they got out of their car and came right back to work.  My RVA nurses rearranged that clinic.  My friend and colleague in Nairobi who usually comes out to work and take call about 3 days a month called to say she was clearing her schedule and would come from Weds to Friday morning.  A family medicine doc in casualty will help for three days next week, while his casualty work is done by another family medicine doc.  Ironically I had finagled a way to get Scott off for 24 hours so we could spend an overnight together at a nearby resort for his Birthday (a few days late) on Thursday night.  I wasn't sure until the last minute we could pull it off, but we did.  I ended up back in for an ICU admit almost as soon as I got home, but it was a good evening/morning respite, it really felt like a true rest.  

I confess I am tired. The sadness of some cases pulls my heart down, the endless press of work drains me, the feeling that there is no one to share the burden feels too hard.

But the truth is, my hope is not in my colleagues, in fairness or work, or in control of my schedule.

My hope is that I'm here serving a God who knew about the preterm labor, the appendix, leave schedules, and everything in between.  A God who allows Sabbath, a 1 in 7 rhythm of true rest that is more and more necessary, and does not require apology, the harder the other six days get.  It's November 15, and I've only had one full calendar day out of the hospital this month.  I'm hoping for a couple more towards the end, asking God to provide.

In the moment when illness strikes, when admissions roll in, when patients crash, when someone says they can't help with something, when unforeseen circumstances press down, I find out my heart-size.  A large heart absorbs the stressful circumstances and answers with grace.  A large heart listens to each new plans-fallen-through and does not despair.  A large heart is not self-protective, and always has room to pour love onto sadness.

My heart is not large enough for this task.  But this verse jumped out today from Psalm 119: 32 "I will run in the way of your commandments, when you enlarge my heart."  This is the same phrase used of Solomon, whose wisdom had to be accompanied by this character of large heartedness for his decisions to bless many.  Immersion in God's word, running in the way of His commandments leads to a largeness of life that is the way I want to live.  No counting the bitter hours of who does what, but a generous spirit of service with joy.

So that's my prayer this month, a prayer that the paucity of hands-on-deck will be compensated by a largeness of heart that lets me approach changes in plans with courage and peace.  That lets me react with grace to each new stress and push.  Please pray that for me.


Kate Dahlman said...

Jennifer, I WILL pray that for you!! Blessings to you and thanks for sharing your burden. Kate

ari said...

we are praying!

Violet said...

You don't know me, but I have been following your blog for a little over a year now. Your grace and ability to express things has ministered to my soul often. I just read this quote earlier today and thought it might encourage you as you face increasingly stressful circumstances.

"No matter what the circumstances and stress, our view of life determines our level of joy and contentment. Having a biblical perspective is seeing life as God sees it. It is the ability to get past the immediate circumstances to see God’s ultimate plan." Randy Alcorn

I'm praying for you as you continue to participate in His work.

Sangoma said...

Prayers only