I say this with some chagrin and embarrassment, but I am feeling a lot of a sense of "deer in the headlights" as I come back from the second orientation day. We spent the morning with the manager of spiritual care services who talked with us about....of all things....DEATH. Well DUH....of course that is going to be a big part of what we do, what we deal with, why, in fact, we are there. But the whole business just got very very real. Death in the ER, death in the ICU, even death in the Family Birthing Center. Our role in supporting the family, in being present for the end of life with patients, in caring for the staff who dealt with a trauma, and of course in figuring out how we, ourselves, do self-care.
I had a job in a hospital once. Well actually twice...I was a Unit Clerk and I rarely had to even see the patients as I ordered supplies, did transcription and kept the station area functioning. In my second foray I was a ccardiac monitor tech. or more accurately I trained and oriented to be one. My first day on the floor I was asked to go into a patient's room and change the leads on a person who had just had open heart surgery. That was also my last day on the job. Again I don't know what I was thinking or how it had escaped me that this would involve real patients with real wounds and I would be expected to DO something in their care. Honestly, I really thought my job was to watch monitors, gather the strips of rhythms as they printed and alert the nursing staff about anything amiss. I have to add that I was much younger then and things scared me even more than they do now, and when they did my response was to run and avoid. I'd like to think that I am not only older and wiser, but also braver now.
But I am not feeling very brave this morning. D told us of her first on-call as a trainee chaplain. A nine year old boy was shot and killed. I am not expecting in our little suburban hospital that I will deal with much of that. But there will be something. There will be illness and pain and death. Running is not my option of choice this time. So I'll pray and hang out in trust that all will really be well as things unfold. One day at a time.