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God speaks to me weird...

I don’t know where I’m going, but I’m willing to follow His lead…even when it’s not always comfortable.

I had a patient last week with an extremely poor prognosis. I was honestly expecting him to die. Upon meeting, he was impossible to work with. He had no drive. He had no will to help himself. He didn’t care.

He had damage to his esophogus and swallowing was an issue for him. He was placed on tube feeding through a nasogastric tube (tube inserted into your nose and leads to the stomach). When I came in the next morning, I discovered he pulled the nasogastric tube out during the night. Um, ouch homie! When I asked him why he pulled it out he said, “Because it was just bothering me and I didn’t want it there anymore.” Well, ok…whatever floats your boat, sailor. I explained to him that that was the only way he was receiving any nutrition and he had probably done more damage to his esophagus. At this point, he couldn’t swallow, meaning his new doctor’s order was NPO (nothing by mouth)…not even water. The main reason for this was to prevent aspiration. Since he can’t swallow, he’s more liable to choke…which would be bad. He also had fluid and secretions on his lungs which makes him more at risk for choking. As a nurse, something I’m educated in is interventions. So, since he had fluid gallore…I had to think of a way to get that fluid OUT so we could put water IN. That’s where the use of an incentive spirometer comes in handy. It’s a breathing device used to loosen up secretions and fluid in the lungs. Basically, it produces a cough so you hack all that mess up. Another thrilling experience.

As I was charting some stuff outside his room, he kept yelling for me:

Patient: “NURSE, get in here!”

Me: (gritting my teeth) “Yes sir, what do you need?”

Patient:(in the most pitiful voice you’ve ever heard) “Get me some water.”

Me: “Sir, I can’t. I’m not allowed to give you any.”

Patient: “But please….I need it.”

I’m a sucker and I hate to see people suffer. So, I tried to conjure up a way to relieve his thirst without giving him a sip of water and breaking the doctor’s orders. Praise God for mouth sponges that relieve dry mouth!

I then instructed him that we were going to do our little breathing exercises with the incentive spirometer so he would cough, which would clear his lungs of fluid, which meant he could begin drinking water again. Before I explained the reasoning behind it, he wasn’t into it but after I explained the benefits and the end result, he was all on board. I remember specifically saying, “If you just do this one thing for me, it will help you and ultimately get you something that you’ve been wanting but you’ve got to get through the tough stuff first.”

So, that’s when the spiritual chills set in at this guy’s bedside and I thought of these things:

1.) He was uncomfortable with the tube inserted, so he took it out. How many times does God place us in uncomfortable situations in order to induce growth but yet we back out because we “don’t like the way it feels” or it “bothers us”?

2.) Even though the tube was uncomfortable it was feeding him but all he could focus on was the discomfort. Spiritual discomfort is a form of spiritual nourishment.

3.) I knew he wanted water. I knew his desires and I could’ve easily given it to him but I had to find an alternate source in order to not disrupt the healing process and ultimately bring him to what heneeded. He had to be patient. It’s easy to become demanding with God so he’ll send us what we want. But ultimately, he knows what we need. However, just like I gave the patient simple mouth swabs, God gives us alternate sources as well to increase our faith and make us strong. I like to think of them as little glimpses of the big picture.

4.) He didn’t want to do the incentive spirometer until I told him that it would help him. The use of that would bring him to what he wanted. How many times do we fear what has been handed to us that we don’t move forward? As much as we want to move out of the storm, we secretly desire to stay because we’re afraid of what lies ahead. We’re not willing to do the work. Be willing. Build endurance.

The next day I came in to see a new doctor’s order. I walked in his room to find him drinking a glass of water and eating soft foods. Not only did he get what he wanted, but he got more. When I peeped my head around the corner and smiled at him, he looked at me and said, “Don’t say anything…you were right.”

I like that God speaks to me when I least expect it…even when it’s over mucous conversations. :)

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