But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self control.
Yesterday I was short on my servings of fruit. I had a patient come in for a fine needle aspiration of her thyroid. She was very nervous. She had 2 young people with her (I'm guessing the boy was around 17 and the girl maybe 20 or 22.) A lot of people are nervous when they come in. I'm used to dealing with that, and praying with them, and joking them through their anxiety. Guess what? I failed miserably with this lady.
Right off the bat I think I upset her when I stated, "You have high blood pressure. Did you take your meds this morning?" She denied ever having high blood pressure, and said it was only up because she was anxious. Okay. BP does rise with anxiety, but usually 10-20 points. Maybe 30 if you add severe pain. Her BP was 216/112. Crazy high. Too high for anxiety induced hypertension. I told her so in a very matter of fact way. I took her BP on the other arm, because she said it would be lower there. It was higher.
Now, here's my first big screw up. I try to be very faithful in praying with my patients. I even had a thought, "maybe I should pray with her, and help her relax." But I blew this thought off as I busily scrambled through her admission paper work and justified it with anxiety doesn't raise BP that high.
The doctor came in, and we had to cancel the procedure, because the risk of bleeding is too high with out of control high blood pressure. We initially gave her 30 minutes to try and settle down. Now, during this 30 minutes, I continued about my day, with the occasional drop in to check her pressure again, which never came down.
She became upset when we cancelled the procedure, and said she would never return to this hospital, and it was because of me. She didn't like me, and she felt that I didn't care about her high blood pressure. The tech working with me had another nurse come and visit with her, and had the doctor come speak with the patient personally. I agreed completely that she should do that. I never want patients to leave dissatisfied or angry....The young girl then magically became a medical student who wanted to see the doctor's credentials, how much experience did she have, where did she go to school, do her residency, etc. Now, I can give you many opinions of this entire situation and additional facts about my observation of this group that would sway you to my side.
But I'm not going to.
The reality is, I screwed up. I failed to show this woman the love, patience, kindness, and gentleness she needed yesterday. I failed to pray with her. I don't take her to being the praying type, but I have yet to have a patient refuse a prayer on their behalf. That simple act alone would have shown her love. It would have shown her that I did care about her anxiety. My joking with her didn't seem to touch her at all, and I sensed that, so I had stopped that right away. I've been around long enough that I can usually read people pretty well, and I know how they are feeling based on body language and facial expressions. I had realized she was upset, but never dreamed it was with me. However, if I had taken a moment to give her words of comfort and encouragement instead of my usual bossy self saying, "You need to follow up with your primary care doctor and get this blood pressure taken care of," she may not have been upset with me. She did not respond well to that. In fact she said she didn't believe her blood pressure was truly high because she didn't have a head ache. Instead of being sympathetic I replied, "Well, you can't go with how you feel. High blood pressure is a silent disease, and it has to be treated."
All of my responses to her were okay. They may have been fine for 90 percent of the people I deal with. But they weren't what this woman needed. She needed a tender touch. A word of prayer. I think she needed me to call the doctor for her, make the appointment, and send her straight there. Those actions would have shown her that I did indeed care about her situation.
But, I didn't do that. I merely stated facts, and treated her as a generic patient. I failed to remember that I am to serve each patient as I'm serving Jesus Christ. That is my call as a Christian. Yes, her BP was high. No, it wasn't emergent, but she did need to follow up. I could have easily made that call, gotten her an appointment, and her feelings about her treatment would have been exponentially different.
I thought about her all day. Everyone I worked with was on my side, and blew them off as the people who can't be pleased. They also judged them based on the other details, that again, I'm not going to address. Because reality is, I'm not to treat them based on how they act, or what my thoughts are about their values compared to mine. I usually have no problem with this. I truly love my job, and I'm pretty good at remembering that people are often at their worst in hospitals. I failed this woman. The Holy Spirit pricked me as soon as she voiced her opinion to me. I confessed to my coworkers that if I had been more loving towards her, she would not have been upset. But I failed to seek her out and apologize. My pride prevented me. I was afraid of making her angrier, or her thinking that I was only apologizing because I was afraid I was going to get reprimanded, or all sorts of lame reasons. Bottom line: I should have listened to the Spirit and gone to her and apologized.
It's funny that it happened yesterday. Wednesday our preacher had discussed giving ourselves a "fruit check" every day. I found myself severely lacking yesterday. I asked forgiveness, and of course it was instantly granted, because God is good that way. Then today, I read something that really brought it home again. Click here to read about that. What struck me is that even if I had been outwardly kinder to this woman, it would just have been a shell. I failed to use Christ as my foundation of love for her. If I had remembered to view her as Christ does, a woman who needs love and compassion, then my reaction to her and her reaction to me may have been completely different.
Serve wholeheartedly, as if you were serving the Lord, not men.
Who will I serve today? I pray that I'm more loving toward them. I pray that I will remember Who I serve. Whether it's my family, my friends kids, the checker at Walmart, or the person next to me in traffic. I pray that I will remember that by serving them , I am serving the Lord.