Vessel of Hope
She came to the ER for complaints of dizziness, intermittent nausea and fatigue x 5 days. She denied vomiting, diarrhea or pain. She told me that she is never sick and that this is “really bothering me because I play field hockey and I have to be able to practice…preseason.”
Her skin was warm, dry and pink and her eyes were bright. Pretty girl…I evaluated her in the routine way…heart sounds, lung sounds, and vitals. I put her on the monitor after doing posturals and then had one of our techs do an EKG. This patient’s mother was glued to her side, so I asked her to leave the room for a few minutes of what I assured her were just routine questions we ask every teenager. Her mother reluctantly left the room. I sat on the stool to the left of the stretcher and asked the routine questions regarding drugs, alcohol, abuse and sexual history. Patient has a new boyfriend and yes they had sex, “but only once and with protection.” I collected a urine sample and left the room after I let her mother back in.
An hour and a half later after all test results were back, the only thing that was “wrong” with my little 17 year-old girl was that she was pregnant. I sat at the computer and tried to gather my thoughts. The PA on duty was not a usual for us and he was being quite flip about the fact that this young woman’s life was about to change…big time. His answer, “You play you pay.” I told him I that he was being as ass and that I would go and talk to them if he wanted…”Ya, sure, whatever.”
I took her chart and went to the far end of the hall. I leaned against the wall and closed my eyes…I was cheering at a tournament game for basketball and my boyfriend was playing. I was 17 years old as was he. The next day I was going to take a pregnancy test…the memory hit me hard, and I knew this girl was already concerned she may be pregnant and she was scared.
I asked God to meet me in this patient’s room…to comfort this young woman—and her mother—as this news was going to change lives today. Taking a deep breath I opened the door and went in. I once again took the stool seat to the left of the stretcher. I again asked the mom to step out of the room. (Now this was difficult for me because I know that as a mother I would have wanted to be there…but far too often in this job do I see parents that do not support their children in these circumstances. The patient, by law, has a right under these circumstances to privacy.) I knew in that moment that this mother feared that I would be saying her daughter was pregnant…I saw it in her eyes and in the way she got up to shaky feet and left the room. Just before closing the door she told her daughter she loved her and in that moment I knew she would be a help to this young woman.
Her eyes were fearful as she sat there biting her fingernail…she looked so young in that moment. I told her everything was medically fine but that the blood and urine samples confirmed that she was about 3 months pregnant. Tears immediately filled her eyes and sobs escaped her mouth. I sat on the bed and held her…she clung to me tightly and continued to cry. I rocked her and just let her cry…I knew this pain and I knew the fear that was now slithering into her mind. “Thank you,” she said as she reached for a tissue. When she stopped crying and blew her nose I asked her if she wanted her mother. “Will you stay in here with me?”
I went to get her mother and we went back into the room, “You’re pregnant, aren’t you?” she asked hesitantly. “Yes,” she answered with her head down. I stood off to the side and prayed. “This is going to kill your father.” A tirade of tears assaulted my young patient and I tried desperately to stay silent. “Mom…please, don’t you think I know that?” she cried. In that moment the mother began crying herself and went to her daughter and gathered her in her arms and wept with her. I started to leave and my patient asked me to stay.
I stopped and just sat on the stool. I took a deep breath and cleared my throat…I, in that moment, told them my story—my teenage pregnancy and beyond. The fear that turned to joy as my daughter blessed my “husband” and my life in ways that we never thought possible and how God used her to grow us into the people he wanted us to be. I told them that it was painful, embarrassing and life altering BUT that it was truly a blessing and I wouldn’t go back and change one bit of it. They thanked me and I was thankful that I had that story to share, because in that moment their lives looked black and fearful.
Sometimes I wonder why I stay in bedside nursing. The hours are long and working every other weekend gets really old—the ER is a beast that just roars continually with pain and suffering. But every once in a while I know that I was placed in a patient’s life that day for the purpose of hope and healing.
I received a thank you card yesterday from this patient…she was keeping her baby and going to go to a local college and stay home to have help. Her parents are being supportive and she has hope for a nice future. Amen!!