1. Robles, Jennifer

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As a kid, I struggled for many years with throat and tonsil infections. So, when a throat infection hit me as an adult, I took my customary path of trying home remedies first. I worked my way through various strategies-salt water gargles, mugs of tea with honey, cough drops, a variety of allergy pills, essential oils, nightly humidifiers, then moved on to steroids and antibiotics. Yet, a terrible wheezing sound continued to escape from my throat when I climbed multiple flights of stairs.

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During a medical checkup, I heard exactly what I suspected: my tonsils needed to be removed. Part of me was scared. As a pediatric nurse, I have seen postoperative bleeds and other complications in children. Everyone said the post-op pain of a tonsillectomy was much more dreadful for an adult. But another part of me was hopeful; a tonsillectomy would resolve my periodic pain and suffering.


Surgery day arrived, and I checked in to the outpatient center. I was humbled to be the one lying on the stretcher in the blue and white gown, watching the RN start the intravenous infusion. I realized that soon I would be unconscious and at the mercy of the surgeon and nurses. Anxiety kicked in. Would there be problems in the operating room? Would I need a blood transfusion? Would they have difficulties waking me up?


As I lay there, silently giving in to a state of panic, a Scripture verse popped into my head:


Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:6-7, NIV)


These verses were the prescription I needed at the moment. Hoping to quell my growing anxiety, I prayed. "God would you please calm my fear? Please be with the surgeon and the nurses as they care for me while I'm unconscious."


Praying, I sought protection and peace for my spirit. Then, believing I'd be okay, I thanked God for the healing that was to come. Perhaps I also told myself to snap out it before the nurse had a chance to ask how I was feeling. She didn't ask if I was nervous. Knowing I was a nurse, she may have assumed I had it all together, or perhaps I looked fine so she believed no words of reassurance were necessary.


My experience as a patient got me thinking about how often I assume my patients are fine. Can you relate? Often, I overlook the spirit of the person in the bed. I see the broken or sick body and forget there is a tender soul that may be afraid or have questions. I assume that because the patient is not complaining, he or she is fine. However, here I was, a nurse with 10 years' hospital experience, and I was anxiety-ridden. That slice of time offered me a glimpse of what some of my patients must experience.


As nurses, and especially as Christian nurses, we need to care for the whole person, not just the physical body. Although a patient may appear okay, we need to ask-in a way that communicates openness to anxiety and fear-how the patient is really doing. We cannot assume he or she is at peace with the situation at hand.


If opportunity allows praying for a patient, the Philippians verses above are helpful to pray, aloud or silently, along with Romans 15:13, "May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit" (NIV) and Isaiah 41:13, "For I am the LORD your God who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you" (NIV).


Our day-to-day routines as nurses at the hospital can be scary, significant, life-changing events for patients. We need to remember and implement the Golden Rule-treat each patient as we would like to be treated-by taking a moment to ask, "How are you feeling?" and then listen well.