It had been a pleasantly manageable shift that afternoon in the Emergency Room. I was in charge and was finally enjoying a charge shift that didn't include multiple calls to co-workers at home begging them to come in and help for a few hours while simultaneously trying to keep everyone in the department from throwing up their hands and abandoning ship.
I have to admit, before every shift I have ever worked, I have prayed for God to help me through whatever I might encounter, give me the ability to deal with it, and . . .to be honest, not to kill anyone.
I've never been the nurse to enter my shift with a 64 oz. Mountain Dew and a "bring it on" attitude. I don't think it was lack of self-confidence, but a realistic sense of what could be.
That's kind of how I approach the mission trips I have gone on. The career I have chosen has made me keenly aware of the fact that tragedy can strike at any time, in any situation, and to anyone.
This pleasant shift was soon to change, as they usually do.
I received a phone call from a frantic paramedic giving me a quick report on three patients they were bringing into our Emergency Room: A school-aged little boy, a toddler girl, and their pregnant mother. All had been involved in a house fire and the decision was made to bring them to our Emergency Room because we were the closest facility.
I can't explain the emotions in such a situation let alone the fear. My "fight or flight" response enabled us to prepare the rooms and organize the medical personnel that would be assigned to each room.
We learn to do what needs to be done without allowing the emotions to complicate things; however, nothing can ever prepare us for the mental struggles that play in our minds throughout the resuscitation attempts and the emotions that accompany us immediately after the situation, on our drive home, a week later, and for the rest of our lives.
I was in the room with the little girl. We all knew she wasn't going to survive. None of them would survive.
As we were performing CPR, administering fluids and medications, and establishing an airway, I found myself at the head of her bead. I did as I often do in situations like this, I talk to God. As I ask Him to comfort her as she transitions from this world to heaven, I thank Him for entrusting me in this situation.
I am again humbled by the uncertainty of this life.
It was obvious to me that this little girl was very loved by her mommy.
Her little fingernails were painted and she had tight braids all over her head with a different color hairband at the end of each one. She had beautiful brown skin and even though her body was badly burned, her beautiful little face wasn't touched by the flames.
Often, I find comfort in taking in as much as I can about the patient. This is my own way of honoring them while at the same time imprinting them into my memory so that I can recall those moments that humble me and allow me to truly appreciate every day of my life.
Is it dangerous to go on international mission trips? Yes, I think there is danger. The degree of danger depends on many factors and where you are traveling.
My husband is obsessed with the politics of Myanmar and, on a daily basis, he follows the Myanmar news while analyzing the safety of our travel there. It's never 100% safe.
Every time I am on the flight to Myanmar, I catch myself thinking about the what-ifs of plane crashes and wishing I had brought a syringe of versed to inject into my family members first and then myself for the decent downward.
I often think about the food we will be eating and the fact that Myanmar doesn't have a health department like we do that monitors restaurants and food preparation.
And I think about that one person that might just look at us Americans and find us a threat . . . a big enough threat that could end up endangering us.
Of course I worry about stuff, but I only allow myself to go there for a short time.
By the way, I also worry about dropping my high school daughters off at the mall by themselves, intruders breaking into our house, and driving along the highways of America next to people under the influence, texting, and full of road rage.
It would suck to die in a plane crash or get roaring diarrhea from bad food, but it would also suck to die from cancer, heart disease, a car crash, or old age.
But it's going to happen to all of us and we don't get to choose.
So, if it's fear holding you back from going on a mission trip, research the facts about your fears and weigh the facts and the misnomers surrounding your fears.
Because your current "shift" of your life may be uneventful now, but it's guaranteed not to last.
Make sure you don't spend your life in fear and worry about what could be and embrace the fact that we are here on earth for a limited time.
We can't determine what is going to happen in the future, but we can determine how we are going to spend it in the meantime.
"Whatever you want to do, do it now! There are only so many tomorrows"-Michael Landon Jr.