This week had me making a very difficult decision in my path towards becoming a nurse. I had to submit, what is referred to as a "site selection" form, in which I write my top three preferences for my senior practicum rotation, which begins in January. As I've mentioned before, I have had no idea where I wanted to be. I have struggled with the decision to become a nurse the entire five years I have been a student. I never quite felt like anything fit...
Until this past rotation.
I have completed four weeks on a mental health ward. And I loved it. In a nutshell, I would sit with people, and talk with them. So much was shared with me. So many crushed dreams. So much heartache. So many who have overcome adversity despite some severe symptoms. And there, sitting amidst it all, I could feel the buzz of hope, and the hope of joy.
By my second week, I started meeting people who embodied such strength and dignity despite medication side effects that shook their bodies as they walked; caused their faces to twitch and their eyes to blink repeatedly. Several of these people sharing with me that their faith in Jesus spurred them forward; giving them the courage to continue and try new treatments.
And as I listened to them, feeling buoyant with excitement at their insight, their clarity of thought despite what society labels them, I had to remain silent. I could not share that I too shared their beliefs. I too knew that a higher power has a purpose for all of us, even these people who feel frightened of the words being spoken in their heads, and more so of a society that frowns upon facial twitches and blinking eyes; certainly cringes when it hears that Jesus is their Saviour, despite the fact that to the average person, this group does not appear to be saved from anything.
As a student and a health professional, it is against all rules to even acknowledge that I know. I agree. I support. Because in this setting of minds who appear clouded and confused, the light emmanating from their faces as they speak about their love for God; as they grip their Bible in conviction, I am the silence, at once nodding yet unable to agree. Because it is not professional.
And I can accept this. The rules are the rules.
But on my last day, when I had less than 24 hours before my "site selection" form was due, I sat with a person who shared a story of love and loss; a story so painful that the time spent between these walls was meant for rest and for healing. And yet, in his grief, this person rallied the troops. He got everyone together, and taught them card games, and as I sat with them, listening to the friendly banter, to the laughter, to the sound of cards being shuffled, I could not take my eyes from this being so sad, and yet so giving, and so caring; who had come here himself with the preconceived notion that those on this ward are not the same as everyone else beyond these walls.
As I sat playing cards with him, and he confessed to me of his deep pain, and his desire to deal with the issues that had brought him here in the first place, he let me know that his faith would get him through this. And as I nodded, my lips forbidden from saying more, I knew this was not the place for me. To deny my own conviction while surrounded by the goodness of God's love was something I could not do.
As he wept before me for his loss; his sadness a wound which would eventually scab over until fresh new skin appeared in its place, I leaned towards him, placed my hand on his arm, and said, "As you get better, and when you are home, in your darkest moments, never forget what I am about to tell you: You are the light. You bring people together. You are good."
And as I walked away filled with remorse, blinking back the tears at the ropes binding my hands, I thought about the "site selection" form sitting on my kitchen table at home, and knew that my three choices would not include this unit.