Monday, October 1, 2012

The Times They Are A Changin...

I am currently sitting in my favorite white chair in the living room of my house in Holland. It's Sunday night and I am winding down after a long week of work and school and not much play. I spent the day reading in a little coffee shop on the corner of 8th and College then came home to make a delicious dinner with my housemates. The sun was shining and it's warmth radiated. I love days like this. Days where the busy ones are made worth it. Days where I can sit and just be. I do not get many of them these days so the ones I do get make me appreciate them that much more. I sit here tonight and think about my first 5 weeks of school. Did I make the right choice of working two jobs and being a full time student? Do I have any regrets from my senior year of college? The more I sit and think the more I truly believe the answer is that no, I have no regrets.

I am reading a book for one of my classes called "The Devil's Highway", it is based on true events that happened on the US/Mexican border in the early 2000's. The book is about a group of Mexican men traveling through the desert to get into the U.S. while struggling to stay alive between harsh climates, killer insects, poisonous animals, and no water. They say that this area of Arizona is known as the "Cabeza Prieta" or "Devil's Highway" and it is labeled as "a vast graveyard of unknown dead... the scattered bones of human beings slowly turning to dust... the dead were left where they were to be sepulchered by the fearful sand storms that sweep at times over the desolate waste". At the very beginning of the book the author writes the book "for the dead, and for those who rescue the living". I thought that the phrasing was particularly intriguing. I work in the medical field and know the meaning behind the idea of "rescuing the living". My favorite part about my job is being around people. Not just the everyday, polite people, but people at their most vulnerable stage, sick people. Working in medicine is not just about preserving a life physically but it is also about mental health as well. I think that is what I have learned the most about working in the Emergency room is that people don't always need some medicine or a splint but they just need someone to talk to, someone to listen to them. They need to be rescued.

I love my job. I love helping people. I get the opportunity every single day to help patients and make a true difference in their lives and in the community. I am truly blessed to get to experience that each and every day. No matter how busy I get with school, work and my extracurriculars, I know that this is where I belong and this is what I was made for.

This revelation was not easy coming. The past few years have been the hardest for me with lots of sickness and separation. There was a point last summer when I felt like I had not stopped crying for months. If it wasn't worrying about cancer, it was missing Matt and if it wasn't missing Matt, it was worrying about cancer. This past May, the day after I finished exams I headed off to visit my brother and sister-in-law for two weeks. I needed that. I needed to be away for awhile and not worry about anything. I couldn't miss Matt because I was with him everyday. I slowly felt myself start to heal from the past year and get stronger. I no longer felt like crying but I felt ready to take on the world. I hopped on that plane at the Raleigh-Durham airport a new woman. And when I flew back I had two days to prepare myself for a summer I could never have imagined.

I started working the Emergency room that Monday morning. The second week working in the ER I had already seen a lot, large head wounds, seriously illnesses, headaches, coughs, you name it. I remember going home after those first few days and not being able to stop smiling about how awesome my day was. Not that being sick is awesome, but the ability to help people that are sick is something I cannot explain in words nor will I try. Not everyone is cut out for medicine. The Emergency room is fast-paced, crazy, irritating, and eye-opening. It left little room for worrying or anything else really. Which at first felt overwhelming but I quickly caught on to the pace and environment I was working in and felt like I was ready.

I now understand the expression, "love what you do, and you will never work a day in your life". I have always loved this but did not understand it really until this summer. I was always busy, always tired, but it was a good busy, a good tired. I enjoyed going in to work in the early morning before the sun came up or getting home just before the sun came up. While the world was sleeping and some days when more coffee was needed, I was on my way to another day of absolute insanity. Then I would drive home from a long day and know that the feeling of complete exhaustion just showed that the day had been productive. Even on the days I felt drained, I'd get up, put a smile on my face and get going. I looked forward to those feelings of impending insanity or the feeling of complete exhaustion because I was doing something and it felt good.

I think the busier I get this year, the more I appreciate the times I get to spend with my family and friends. I'm headed home this weekend for a long weekend of food, family, friends and fun. I'm ready to have a few days of no work and all play. I plan on sleeping in, staying up late and eating lots of homemade food. Those are the important things in life, family and friends. No matter how busy my schedule gets, I always leave room for that. The relationships you have and the ones you make are worth making an effort. My dad always tells me to not get wrapped up in it, always remember who you are and where you come from and remember those who love you. Never get so busy that you forget to make an effort with the ones you love.

My hope for you is that you find the thing you love, whether it be painting the rest of your life or joining the military. I pray that you find the one thing that makes you happy and stick with it. I'm not quite there yet but I know that I am headed in the right direction. That's all we can really do, right? Head in the right direction? I don't know if there is every really a destination we reach with our goals or if we just keep traveling in the right direction that takes lots of twists and turns along the way, but I do know.....the journey is worth it.