So much going on as of late…. The beginning of the month I started my new job and I am ever so thankful for it. Not gonna lie though, it’s a good deal more overwhelming than I anticipated. Bronx hospital medicine isn’t like family practice. Not. At. All. The best way I can describe it would be to say that it’s a mix between African medicine and US medicine. The population is very poor and underserved. I can count on one hand the number of patients I have with private insurance. The hospital is literally busting at the seams, therefore patients who won’t die that day are placed on gurneys in the hallways, and those who are lucky enough to get a room share it with one or two or three other patients. We joke sometimes that their next strategy will be to add bunk beds! There is also a significantly higher number of patients that present with AIDS, drug and alcohol abuse, hepatitis, etc.
Along with this, comes a great deal of death and loss. Rare, good, days are the ones where none of the patients under my care die on my shift. This is not my first experience with patient death, but it is never fun or particularly easy. Somehow it has bothered me a bit more lately. During my time with the Lord, I have tried to figure out why I have felt more unsettled about it as of late and this is what I have concluded:
1. We live in America and therefore think we are invincible. Nothing is fair about unnecessary death in third world countries, but it somehow feels more acceptable and normal. As a young, fit individual I assume that my days will be numerous and I won’t have to face death or loss anytime soon. Truth is, I have seen people of all ages pass and not always with much warning or time to prepare. We are so much more fragile than we think… (Ironically Daniel and I are reading through Job in our Bible reading plan now too….ha)
2. There is a bit of a God-complex that comes with medicine. It’s not always overt, but our job is to keep people alive. Guess what though?!? people die even despite our best efforts… This lesson doesn’t just apply to medicine though. None of us can ‘save the world’ – whatever that looks like to you. We are not as good as we think we are.
3. In God, and only God, we live and move and have our being. Now we may not harbor cancer or some other horrid, fatal disease right now, but without God providing our next breath or heartbeat we are done.
4. What in the world are we doing?!?! Do we live with an eternal perspective and a sense of urgency? What is the purpose of our lives? Who do we need to talk to about Jesus but are holding back from because we are scared? What if they don’t get another day? If we really believe that this gospel stuff is real, we are called to make disciples, to share, to go, to make much of Christ with whatever time we are given here.