The other day, I was caring for a patient who had just been admitted to the hospital for fainting spells. Now, normally there are a whole onslaught of tests performed to diagnose the cause of those types of occurrences; however, for this woman the troublemaker made itself clearly known. She had a very, very bad heart. Simply sitting up in bed was an effort that sent her heart racing and left her breathless. Putting a stethoscope to her chest scarred me. As I listened, I could hear the heart struggling to push and the immediate regurgitation of that blood back to where it had come from, “woosh, woosh, woosh.” How this woman lived and functioned at home, I can’t even imagine.
As I assisted her with her belongings and oriented her to her new surroundings, she told me her story. She talked of being in and out of UCLA hospital for years with her heart condition. Told me of the struggle to be independent and how her limitations impacted her life. Then she paused, causing me to look up straight into her calm eyes. “I know, I can see it in you. You know my Savior. He’s the reason I’m still here and he’s the only hope I cling to.” I was stunned and felt tears welling up in my eyes. This woman, who had gone through so much, was so attuned to the Lord and His plan that she was ministering to me even amidst her occasional gasps for breath. We ended up talking for a while longer and prayed together before I had to finish up the rest of my work in preparation for the change in shift. She had such a big heart, literally (she had severe cardiomegaly) and figuratively. Her contentment and joy despite her condition astounded me.
Sometimes, I look at my own life and wish for trials such as hers if only to develop the wisdom and heart knowledge she had of the Lord. Granted, I stub my toe and I’m libel to start complaining, but my heart yearns for the depth of relationship with God that woman clearly portrayed and the selflessness to think of others despite being a patient herself. There’s so much for me to learn, yet each stride reveals more and more my intense need for God. To paraphrase C.S. Lewis, “Man approaches God most nearly when he is in a sense least like God.”
Nursing holds many surprises and is a constant learning experience, but I treasure the lessons of the heart the most. I’m incredibly thankful for all the fellowship with hospitalized believers and the opportunities to share in the heartaches and pains of others. Each patient, each person, presents an opportunity to share God’s incredible love. My prayer is that He works through me even when words are scarce or when I’m intimidated. My prayer is that God transforms my heart into a reflection of His own. My prayer is for figurative cardiomegaly.
Thank you Lord, for the privilege of being a nurse.
Medical Morales to Remember:
- · Cardiomegaly – enlarged heart
- o Reverseable in some cases
- o May be caused by many different conditions including cardiomyopathy, high blood pressure, myocardial infarctions (Heart attacks), chronic anemia, and thyroid problems to name a few
- · Common signs and symptoms – shortness of breath, tachycardia, chest pain, dizziness, syncope, edema
- · Cardiomyopathy – heart muscle disease