I want to stop and say thank you.
My recent emergency eye surgery got me thinking of all the times you all have made a difference in my life and in the lives of family and friends I love.
The very best among you have always been really decent with me, even when I'm not at my best ... and when do you guys get to see any of us at our best? During the prep for the first eye surgery, the nurse was so upbeat she gave me courage before receiving two needles to my left eye. The surgeon himself explained what would happen and then had the wisdom to reassure me that it had taken longer to explain the procedure than the 20 seconds it would take to get the first of those two jobs done. I was reassured and went into that procedure with a calm I had not expected.
It's been that way with all my best encounters over the years with people in your most demanding professions The dentist who told me he got into the field in part because he was an artist who likes to work with his hands. Talk about a point of view that reoriented my thinking on dentistry! He also said the hours were better than those of a surgeon, which made me laugh.
The nurse who responded when I observed it must to tough to work with people who all want to leave the hospital and them. She responded, "Oh no, you've got it wrong. We're glad for everyone who wants to leave. It means they're getting better. It's the people who don't care that scare us. They aren't recovering the way they should."
To the surgeons who worked on me in outpatient operations who said, "you tolerated that procedure well." That simple phase felt like I'd earned a medal, coming from you.
You guys work on the edge, the front line of mortality in some cases. You use all the training, all the new knowledge and equipment, or work near miracles with old equipment. You add skill, insight, years of experience, and sometimes daring to get the job done. You are there to offer congratulations or condolences afterwards.
We are all trained by our society that we ought to fix things. Yet, we all know we are mortal. We all know there will come a day when none of your skill, experience, amazing techniques or technologies will be able to defeat death one more time. I know there is a day coming when this is likely to happen to me (unless I'm killed in some disaster or pass away in my sleep) or a loved one. When it does, I want to say, I know you did your best and I know this was bound to happen. We are mortal. We die. It is our condition. I know you face this far more often than I do as a minister, and it is a regular part of my life. But let me say, don't beat yourself up. You work long hours, and sometimes you work against very long odds. When you lose that last battle and have to tell me or my loved ones of the loss, know that my faith and that of my family will see us through. You did all you could. My belief in God, my Christian hope in life eternal, that will carry me and mine on beyond what you are able to do.
Thank you for all you do for everyone you meet. Thank you for all the kindness, care, and concern shown along with the awesome skill sets. I hope you'll all take some time to take care of yourselves, especially on those miserable weeks when death wins time and time again. You've earned a little time to decompress and deal with the losses, to grieve when needed, to blow off steam when it's not.
Thanks again. I see more clearly now, following your most recent work on my eye ... and yeah, I mean that in more ways than one.
For the experience that led to this post, see: http://jsbrookspresents.blogspot.com/2016/05/my-retinal-tear-what-you-should-know.html