Sunday, September 7, 2014
Let It Rain
“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you where ever you go.” Joshua 1:9
Sometimes courage is in short supply.
Sometimes strength is found in weakness.
Sometimes the tears threaten to fall.
The glass facade trembles and nears dissolution into a broken heap of shattered remnants.
There are many things to appreciate about my life in Buea. I am surrounded by blessings in the form of friends, pets, smiles, and inspirational stories every day. I live in a people-oriented culture where people take time for people.
Sister Comfort dropped by the patient's room looking for a pair of baby's shoes. In spite of her busy schedule, she exchanged pleasantries with the new mother for a quarter of an hour before continuing on with her duties. She forgot the shoes.
A member in church is recovering from an operation at home. Each day a steady stream of brothers and sisters in Christ, visit her, delivering fruits, drinks, and companionship – distracting her from the pain and cheering her through discussions on the local events in town or reminiscing over enjoyable memories.
Even online, when I open my in-box, it spills over with messages and encouragement in daily snippet exchanges shorter than a tweet but filled with plenty of love.
Everywhere I look, I am blessed.
Still, there are the periods of loneliness, tiredness, discouragement – seasons of sadness. Or perhaps not an entire season but rather moments of melancholy? Periods in life that remind me I am human, not immune to the tribulations in life.
Sometimes the showers of blessing are showers of sadness too.
The rain outside my window tonight falls lightly, it drips in a steady flow – slow droplets from the sky sighing in their misty descent. Their melancholic liquid symphonies splashing to their death in a mournful rhythm of drip, drip, drip.
I want to join their chorus. I want to let my own tears blend and mix into the watery cascades, allow the sadness to float away in the same rivulets as the falling water. The rainy splashes can drown out my sobs. My tears will vanish in the fleeting flowing eddies of swirling water.
I want to let the tears come and wash away this sorrow.
Emotions are like the waves of the ocean's tide, ebbing to and fro. Sometimes content and happy. Sometimes disappointed and sad. My patience is in short supply these days. It's a thin line. I easily snap at slight provocations.
A new nurse did not know how to set up the quinine infusion for a small child properly yesterday. He almost caused a serious mishap through his ignorance by failing to ask for help in getting the dosage correct. He could have caused a major problem that might have hurt the child.
“How can you not know how to give quinine for malaria?” My voice was angry as I rebuked him for his mistake. “Haven't you worked as a nurse before in other hospitals? How is that you don't know how to set up the most commonly given infusion for malaria? You told us you could do all things. You told us in your initial interview that you were capable of all the basic duties required of a nurse.... ”
The new nurse maintained his composure. He couldn't understand my hastily spoken complaints but he understood that I was upset.
“I'm sorry, doctor,” was all he could add.
Later, I was reminded. “He's just a baby, doctor. He's new.”
It was true. In spite of his deceptions regarding his initial skills, now was not the time to deliver a lecture on his incompetence but rather move forward. Chiding his lack of abilities would not solve the issue. Berating him over his mistakes was not the solution.
I took him aside. “I am sorry for getting upset at you,” I apologized.
This morning I argued with the auntie and mother of a young child sick in our hospital. “Please, let her continue her treatment. Let her complete her medicine. She is too ill to go home.”
They were determined to go though. “Doctor, you are not getting us,” the auntie complained.
“I am getting you,” I answered. “I am just not agreeing with you.”
In the end, no matter what I said or offered, they left. Their minds were made up.
“It was the worm medication that the doctor prescribed. It was too much medicine. My doctor in Yaounde says I should not have taken it all.”
The recently bereaved woman who'd just suffered a miscarriage needed someone to blame. It didn't matter that the worm medication she believed to be the culprit for the miscarriage was part of the standard of care given to all pregnant women. She needed a reason. A reason so that she could avoid a miscarriage in the future.
“She has to blame the medication, doctor,” my astute nurse observed. “She cannot just say it happened like that. I could see that she already had it in her mind that the worm medicine was the problem. She has to tell her husband that so he doesn't blame her.”
She was correct, of course. I have to be brave and professional and accept the accusations. Arguing the scientific facts have not convinced her otherwise. She needs a scape-goat. I am that person today. Even though I know I'm innocent and haven't caused her harm, I am hurt. It is a terrible accusation to be blamed for the loss of one's baby.
I want to cry but now is not appropriate. Tears will not help. I continue on with my day. Even when I don't feel confident and brave, I can at least play the part – maintain my role as medical leader. My nurses need me.
Tonight, alone, the rain falls softly. The burdens on my heart feel extra heavy. I wish I could join the crying sky. I want to weep for all the pain and suffering I witness in my labors. I want to mourn for the tragedies that enter my sphere of awareness here in Buea.
The tears cannot come though.
Instead I let the sky do the crying for me.
Let it rain.
Let the tears from heaven come.
Cleanse away the sadness and the sorrow; make way for the sunshine tomorrow.
“My eyes fail, looking for your promise; I say, 'When will you comfort me?'” Psalm 119:82
“But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.” Isaiah 40:31
“This is my Father's world,
Why should my heart be sad?
The Lord is King;
Let the heavens ring!
Let the earth be glad.”
- This Is My Father's World. Hymn written by Babcock