I remember sitting in the meeting room of our emergency department for registrar teaching when I was a timid final-year medical student. I thought of the sandwiches that were provided each time, the presentations that were taught there and the emergency registrars that always seemed so cool and put-together. I remember how the director of ED spoke to his team of registrars, encouraging that they were the army that was the real lifeforce of this emergency.
I remember wishing that one day I could be one of them too.
I remember the time I got to assist in stabilising a patient who had overdosed on a hundred slow-release potassium tablets. Registrars were busy giving her medications and putting in big needles into big vessels to prepare her for dialysis as per the orders of the overseeing consultant. My special job as the medical student was to fill 1L of laxatives every hour and push it through her nasogastric tube to wash out the rest of the tablets from her gut. For three hours at least, I diligently did that, syringe by syringe. It took me close to an hour to reconstitute and push 1L of fluids in through this small tube, which meant by the time my hourly task was completed, it was time to start all over again. I remembered the blisters on my hands that day from forcefully pushing the plunger of a 60mL syringe over and over.
I remember looking at the bag attached to her rectal tube after, and the crushed up tablets within them. "Look at that. You saved her life," came the encouragement from the kind consultant in charge.
I remember wishing that one day I too could carry that kind of confidence and grace into such a critical condition.
I remembered all these as I sat in the same meeting room a few days ago, in my scrubs after a night shift. My lanyard no longer said "medical student" and I didn't have to be as timid in this room anymore because I knew most of the people there now.
I thought of these things because now, finally, I am one of them.
Emergency doctors get a lot of criticism from the rest of the hospital, as I've learnt a long time ago. At times that can be discouraging, but I know that there isn't a perfect specialty out there, and it pushes me to keep trying to do the best that I can. A lot of non-emergency people give me a face when I tell them that I have decided to pursue emergency medicine, and they ask me "why?".
Because I love the variety.
I love the stories I take home from work every day - the resuscitation that went on for several hours in emergency, the traumatic amputation, the foreign items in places they shouldn't be, the pus leaking profusely out a man's shoulder.
I love the different kinds of people I meet each shift - the brave wife who helped hold the mouth of her husband open while I stitched within it, the elderly woman giving me relationship advice while both her broken arms were in slings, the little boy running up and down the department because he was feeling much better after the right medication for his infection.
I love the camaraderie in ED as we tackle the list of patients waiting to be seen, and how every shift always comes to an end.
And I am so blessed where I am to love the place I work in and the people I work with too.
And on top of that, I love having more days off to live and focus on other important things in life too - family, church, friends, people, exercise, adventure.
God, You have been so, so good to me indeed. Thank You Papa.
Many thoughts.. many responsibilities, disappointments, fears, worries.. heaviness.
It's all part of growing up, I know, and in the midst of it all I hear Papa saying to me, "Now is where you test and see that I really am enough for you. This is your training ground, and I am preparing you for bigger battles."
Bill Johnson once said that when his spirit was in despair, he would read the Psalms until he found one that resonated with his spirit.
Psalms 34 - A Psalm of David when he pretended madness before Abimelech, who drove him away, and he departed.
"I will bless the Lord at all times; His praise shall continually be in my mouth. My soul shall make its boast in the Lord. The humble shall hear of it and be glad. Oh, magnify the Lord with me, And let us exalt His name together. I sought the Lord, and He heard me, And delivered me from all my fears. They looked to Him and were radiant, And their faces were not ashamed. The poor man cried out, and the Lord heard him, And saved him out of all his troubles. The angel of the Lord encamps all around those who fear him, And delivers them. Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good; Blessed is the man who trusts in Him! O, fear the Lord, you His saints! There is no want to those who fear Him. The young lions lack and suffer hunger; But those who seek the Lord shall not lack any good thing. Come, you children, listen to me; I will teach you the fear of the Lord. Who is the man who desires life, And loves many days that he may see good? Keep your tongue from evil, And your lips from speaking deceit. Depart from evil and do good, Seek peace and pursue it. The eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, And His ears are open to their cry. The face of the Lord is against those who do evil, To cut off the remembrance of them from the earth. The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears, And delivers them out of all their troubles. The Lord is near to those who have a broken heart, And saves such as have a contrite spirit. Many are the afflictions of the righteous, But the Lord delivers him out of them all. He guards all his bones; Not one of them is broken. Evil shall slay the wicked, And those who hate the righteous shall be condemned. The Lord redeems the soul of His servants, And none of those who trust in Him shall be condemned."
Tonight, in the midst of my thoughts, I felt Papa bring this song to my mind.
It's been blasting through my earphones on repeat for several times now. How truly grateful I am indeed, that where the spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.
I'm not sure what it is that compels me to write sometimes, but more often than not, I think I write for me. I write as a means of releasing the burdens on my shoulders, a scream into a blinded audience, a story to only those willing to listen. "The light shines into the darkness, and the darkness can never extinguish it."
- John 1:5
"In His presence is fullness of joy."
- Psalm 16:11 "In this world you will have tribulation, but take heart, for I have overcome the world."
- John 16:33
"My heart beating, my soul breathing I found my life when I laid it down, Upward falling, spirit soaring, I touch the sky when my knees hit the ground."
- Touch The Sky, Hillsong
This song came on my speakers as I drove home from church today, and I felt God remind me of this photo someone took of me at church many years ago.
This is me at my strongest.
I thought of all the battles I've fought on my knees, all the times God came through for me in the past, and how despite the circumstance - His embrace always makes everything okay.
It's been a challenging past few months, for many reasons. I've questioned my identity, my gifts, my purpose, my choices, my dreams - whether or not I had the courage to pursue it, my weaknesses and my worth. I've questioned the expectations that the people and the world around me had for me. I've questioned everything and some days it left me exhausted, broken and afraid of the future.
I've always had a pretty close relationship with God, but even that has fluctuated throughout the years - I have been the girl on my knees who would boldly pray "here I am Lord, send me" and I have also been the Sunday Christian whose relationship with God only went as far as attending church on the days my work schedule allowed it. And funny enough, when I look back at my life, it was at the toughest moments of my life that I was drawn closest to God, learning then to let Him carry me through and fight my battles for me.
Somewhere in this season, I found myself running back into Papa's arms again. And oh, how He loves indeed. When my heart is quiet enough to listen, he never fails to speak wisdom into my life with this unmistakable authority that is firm, yet gentle. He corrects the error of my ways, dusts me off, and gives me the courage to face tomorrow. He helps me to dream again and teaches me to activate my faith. And He always, always reminds me that I am not alone.
My heart is so blessed. Thank You Papa.
The road ahead may be long, but I look heavenwards and know that He's got me.
Everything's gonna be okay.
"The Lord your God will fight for you. You need only to be still."
- Exodus 14:14
I breathe you in I lean into Your love”
- Sinking Deep, Hillsong
“Not that I speak in regard to need, but I have learnt in whatever state I am, to be content: I know how to be abased and I know how to abound. Everywhere and in all things I have learnt both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need.”
- Philippians 4:11-12
"I look to the hills, from where my help comes from My help comes from the Lord."
- Psalm 121:1-2