Primary healthcare can be an interesting beast. Even more so when the fronds of eternity stemming from a religious affiliation are constantly present within your mind. As practitioners, we see the full spread of situations: the alcoholics and drug addicts, the mother having her first miscarriage, the palliative patient and their family, the man who will lose his job and dreams following an injury. The family grieving someone gone too soon. The list goes on.
As a paramedic, I get an additional facet: we sit in the filthy home with the ice addict as they cry (or scream abuse at us, depending on the day). We fear for the blood soaked clothes and distraught families as we drive to the miscarriage of a 16 week old baby. We look the parents of a critically ill child in the eyes and tell them what to expect, for better or worse.
For me, every patient gets prayed for. At least on the way to the job. A lot of the time, they get prayed for afterwards too. Particularly if the case was a bad one.
As a Christian, I feel blessed to be able to meet with these people: I get paid to reach out to the sick, broken and hurting. It is a remarkable privilege.
But all too often I still find myself annoyed. At 3:30am when all I want to do is sleep, discovering a 70 year old man in a rancid house, crammed between the toilet bowl and the wall, covered in his own faeces, with his two autistic sons poking at our gear and refusing to help us lift him. Finding that our equipment is missing from the truck after another crew borrowed it that day. Dealing with the stench, the old man’s coughing and the knowledge that he was released from hospital far too early that morning, without follow up, makes one a little irritable.
It is times like this I’m ashamed to say that I did not initially offer the loving servant hands that I should have. Sometimes I haven’t offered it at all. It is something I am truly sorry for.
As humans, we are innately sinful. Yet I am thankful each day for the sanctification the Holy Spirit is working out through me, assisting me to love these patients as God loves them. Bringing me closer each day to being able to see beyond all of the distractions and treat every patient with infinite patience and grace.
If you are a healthcare practitioner, or any sort of human services worker, I strongly encourage you so much to pray not just for your patients.
Pray for yourself and your own family. Pray for resilience.
Ask for the patience to deal with mental health and drug abuse cases, for your safety. Pray a step beyond just getting yourself home and them safe, but that you may make a holy and wonderful influence with every person you come into contact with during that shift: colleagues, patients and their families.
If you are not a Christian, I’d still recommend having a try at praying for your patients.
You never know what difference it might make, for them, or you.