Chapter 4 “My Real Come-to-Jesus Moment”

When I got out of the first marriage, a friend of my mom’s made a statement that felt like the first measure of grace I had received through out the entire ordeal.  She said, “the Bible says what God hath joined together, let no man put asunder, but I have to wonder sometimes if there are some couples whom God never did join together”?

Now, maybe I was just desperate for a loophole, but that was like a drink of water in a parched desert to me.  I know that first time around, when the preacher asked “do you” I said “I do” with my lips, but in my heart I only said “I have no other choice” and as far as the “until death do you part” portion, I would have sincerely welcomed a head-on collision on the way home, except that knowing how I’d been living my life, I might wake up in hell.  My fear of God was still fully intact, but I did not understand that the grace extended at Calvary and accepted in child-like faith, extended to cover even this.  All I knew was that I felt like I’d fallen so far, that God must be so disappointed, and that I loathed myself.

The second time that I went through divorce, my biggest concern was not in the status of being divorced, even though I was only 28 and it was the second one, my concern then was how to salvage the rest of my life.  I was working at that point as a licensed nurse in Oncology and inpatient Hospice.  That was stressful by itself as I trained for my chemo certification, and for charge nurse rotations.  So the big upheaval and finding myself really on my own for the first time in my life, was all pretty scary for me.  I was not ready to be in charge of others.

As you can imagine, depression continued to be an issue, and anxiety had mushroomed throughout the marriage, especially when he became physical  and  of course after all of that, he was the one to leave and divorce me.  I know now it was God’s own mercy that he did leave.   He told me he could never be what I needed, and even said “you are a good woman, and you deserve better”.

I guess he had comprehended enough in church to see it would take a lot of changing on his part to be the kind of person a Christian husband ought to be.  He toyed with it, but in the end, after he counted the cost, he wasn’t sure he was able or willing to undergo a turn-around.

In the midst of it all, I started having a terrible time of keeping my mind straight for work.  I was forgetful, I was strung tight as a banjo string, and I was on eggshells because I knew I wasn’t functioning at my best, and was terribly afraid I might make a dangerous mistake.  Which I eventually did.  I was distracted when giving I. V. Demerol, and nearly shut down a patient’s respiratory system.  A quick-acting code team brought him back out without lasting damage, (even though it’s hospice, no one wants to go before their time) but my shaky confidence took a lethal blow.  I was nearly a basket case as I anticipated my upcoming solo as charge nurse on the night shift due to occur in a few weeks. After standard remediation for the med mistake (a review class and test) I was still lined up to keep that assignment in the coming weeks.

There was a really good story that came out of the med-error though.  It was a family with which I had a really good rapport.  I was having a congenial conversation with the daughter when I made the error.  If you have ever been anywhere near a code taking place in a hospital, you were probably amazed to see how fast the response is and how many show up.  I could only jump out of the way.  After it was over, of course, there needed to be a review to figure out how it happened.  The logical assumption on the part of everyone, was that he just reacted.  But I’d given it to him before, so I didn’t think that was likely.  As soon as the Cavalry had arrived, and I was able to detach from what was going on, I did so.  And I mean, I detached in a way similar to the detachment that happened when I was raped.  So it was not easy for me to reconstruct the events.  I couldn’t have said for certain if I had pushed it too fast, given too much, or what had happened, exactly.  The attending doctor was in on this review, and he said, “well, there is no need for the family to know that, it could very well have been that he simply reacted, it wouldn’t be that unusual in a patient in his condition.  (Liver Cancer).

Well, that didn’t set well in my spirit.  I just told the truth when I wrote my incident report, and I also told the truth to the daughter.  She hugged me, and very much wanted to reassure me, and she thanked me profusely for telling her what I did.

After I left the room, one of the other doctors who had participated in the code was still on the floor finishing his rounds, and he took me aside, and he said to me, “Now don’t you let this sideline you, why I once took out the wrong kidney on a patient”.   I was floored by the kindness of his sharing that with me.

The next day, the nurses on my unit had flowers delivered to me and they all wrote encouragements in the card and told me what a great nurse I was.  (Nurses are truly a special breed!)

All of that was wonderful, but I was just beyond being able to just get over anything at that particular time.  I knew that my private life was hampering my ability to safely do a job that required so much multi-tasking.

I got into a habit of going into the rest room after shift report, and getting on my knees and just asking God to get me through it and for Him to do through me what I did not feel capable of doing myself.  It was so hard to keep going.  I cried when I went to bed each night.  I cried at the return to consciousness each morning when I woke up.  But I kept dragging myself through the demands of life.  One morning I was headed out to work, I got my hand on the door knob, and I just. could. not. take. another. step!

I collapsed on my living room floor in exhaustion and despair, racked with sobs.  I cried from the deepest pit of my gut and my soul.  I felt like I had not taken a deep breath in many years, as if I had a wide band wrapped around my torso constricting tighter and tighter and squeezing the life out of me.  I was so tired of hurting.  And I just cried out to God; “Please, no more, God, I can’t do it anymore, Lord, if there is anything left, if You can salvage of my life, and if You will have me back, Lord will you take over?  I have screwed up so bad and I can’t fix it.

Instantaneously I felt as if God back-handed Satan off of me, and I could almost hear Him proclaim  “Devil, you get off of her, she belongs to ME! I paid with my blood!”

Like that’s all God had been waiting for all along.

Suddenly,  I could breathe. I took that first deep breath, felt the pressure vanish, felt complete peace take its place.  Just calm.

I wish that I could say it all got better that day.  It definitely did not.  But what did happen that day is that I was able to get up off that floor, wash my face, and continue to put one foot in front of the other.  I got to work slightly late, but I got there.

Of course, all of this was long before I was diagnosed with narcolepsy, so just imagine what havoc the shift-work alone was working on my nervous system and circadian rhythms, never mind the stress.  I was also working a second job at an in-patient psych program, so I was putting in a lot of hours.

When the night of my solo-charge shift finally came along a few weeks later, I got so behind, so fast and so flustered, that I got my first ever migraine, and it was a doosie!  As a nurse I was very conscientious, and in the new role, I was very self-conscious and trying diligently to project a confidence I did not feel.  I was trying not to let my sheer terror win out, but I was aware that the other nurses weren’t buying it.  I have never been able to camouflage my emotions.  What I am feeling shows on my face for all the world to see.

The running of a nursing unit really is carried out by the team.  The charge person, when they know they have a good team, merely serves as an over-seer, and handles all of the technical and paperwork stuff like processing orders and making sure the appropriate people are informed of changes in orders as well as getting pertinent information documented for reporting to the oncoming shift.  She’s a traffic cop, an extra hand when needed, a witness with meds, a signer-off of orders, etc.  It is not up to her to get everything done, but the buck will stop at her for things that get missed.

There I was, this person who had never even been solely responsible for my own self until only recently and the entire concept of being “in charge” of a team of nurses (all more experienced than me) and the welfare of 58 or so patients, just was more than my over-burdened mind could deal with at that point.

The floor shift-supervisor knew that if I could just survive the night, I’d maybe see it wasn’t so scary, and then perhaps I would begin to gain some confidence, but I was beyond the brink at that point.  He was going to have a doctor call in something strong to the pharmacy, which I could take for the migraine, and see the shift through, but I told him anything they gave me would put me to sleep. (Which it would have).   He finally agreed to let me leave, (my sister came for me) and the unit manager had to be called in the wee hours to mop up and get things ready for day shift.

It wasn’t long after that, I got out of hospital nursing and went into Home Health where I could focus on one patient, one problem at a time.

Another pretty cool thing happened in connection to that transition.  Though I worked on that unit as a student nurse for a year before I graduated from nursing school,  I had been given a sign-on bonus when I came on as a licensed RN.  As such, I still had some months left on my contract.  When the H. R. person came up and went through all sorts of stuff like my 401 K, and COBRA, and all that, she didn’t say anything about the bonus and remaining time in my contract.  So I brought it up, and informed her I knew I owed them some money back, so could she find out how much.  When the Nurse Supervisor got the request, she was so impressed that I was honest about it, she arranged to have the debt forgiven!

I continued to go to church, and got involved with the singles group, many of whom were a little younger than me, but it was by then the only place I felt like I semi fit-in.

I moved out of the house I’d lived in before the second husband left, and got an adorable upstairs apartment in another house across town.  I enjoyed decorating it up to suit me, and having my own little space, but when one of the girls in the singles group needed to move and was looking for a place nearby and not terribly expensive, we became room mates and fast friends.  All in all that next year was a fun one.  Not that I had worked through all my issues, but I did get started on it.  I actually admitted myself to a Christian inpatient program for about  week, to help me begin to make sense of everything, but for most of that next year to 14 months, I enjoyed “just being”.  I had good income, a new car, an apartment I really liked, financially I was doing fine, and not dating anyone, although there were guys that I was friends with (some more favored than others) and hung out with from time to time during that period.  Pretty low-stress.

My walk with the Lord was getting back on track, but I still had a lot I needed to learn, and also a lot He needed to mend and heal inside me.  Since I wasn’t having to think about or deal with those issues  right then, it was a relief (after the in-patient stint) to put them far from my mind, to even think that I was moving beyond them.  Unfortunately, damage like that can lie dormant, and rise up to torment you and wreak havoc when you aren’t expecting it.

I was resigned to being single for the rest of my life, even though I was only 29.  I hoped that maybe I could even go back toward my previous dreams, maybe go to Bible college and study counseling or something.  My room-mate made plans to move to Florida where she had a sister, and I very seriously was considering heading that way myself if I could find a temporary place to stay while I checked out the job opportunities, churches, and colleges, etc.

At this time, my dad retired from his job, and my parents, who were raising two of my (adopted) sister’s kids, moved back to their hometown in another state.  It seemed like a good time for me to make that big leap to Florida and venture out in a new direction.  I had never been particularly bold and adventuresome beyond the trip to Scotland years before.  For the first time in a long time, I felt like I actually might be strong enough to do something like that.

Meanwhile, I was loving Home Health.  The job I had was not full time, though, and I really needed that for the benefits.  So I just learned as much as I could, and kept my eyes and ears open for a full-time opportunity.  Before long, I found one.  But it required a move, 30 miles or so North.  Well, with my room-mate leaving, that was fine.  I found a great furnished basement apartment a stones-throw away from the new place of employment.  I settled in looking forward to saving up for my eventual move to Florida.  But God had other plans.

Go to Chapter 5