Reflections of Being “On Call” in the Cath Lab

Recently I accepted a position as an RN at one of the leading heart hospitals in the world. Tonight was my third night “on call.” What I do is such an incredible privilege…and there are nurses and physicians everywhere who do what I do.

Tonight I was part of a team that helped to save the life of a 40 something year old man who had 3 teenage sons and a wife. There is nothing to describe the face of someone who is staring death in the eyes, and then he looks to you for mercy. It is a look that says, “I might die and I don’t want to. Help me. I have children and a wife. I’m not ready to die.” My heart was compassionate, and we worked quickly.

When the man wept as we assumed his care and I led his sons away down to a waiting room corridor, I was thinking of my own wife and children. Within minutes we worked to stabilize this man and deployed a stent to his heart. He survived and is now on the road to recovery. It was one of the most rewarding experiences in my life, and I get to do this every day!

During this experience I was reminded of my own mortality. I cannot help but have gratitude. I am ever so thankful for every breath I take. We never know when it will be our last. God has truly given me infinitely more than I deserve.

I am reminded of two needs:

1) the need to always live like it is your last moment: What would you do if you knew you could not fail? I mean, what are the truest God given passions (not lusts) of your heart? Go after them as hard as you can while you still have time. And give God the glory when you are able to enjoy what he gives you.

2) the need for redemption: we all die. Jesus said, “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted…blessed are the meek for they shall inherit the land…Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied” (Matt. 5:4-6). On this side of life, we will know death. That should grieve us. It grieves me. I am sad to think of the death of those I love. I am sad to think that one day I will no longer enjoy the joys of this earth. We need to be healed. This world needs to be redeemed.

Paul wrote in Romans 8 that even creation longs for redemption. The Christian life brings hope to our despair. Evil in this world can discourage us, but Scripture says that, “If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you” (Romans 8:11). God will bring life to our dead rotted corpse. He will again make us live! And that is the Gospel- the Good News- in a nutshell.

One day Jesus Christ will clothe us in an imperishable body and we who have grieved the sorrows of this earth will be blessed. We will inherit the land, the Kingdom of God as it was intended to be since creation. Satan will be vanquished and Jesus will reign on his throne forever. We will enjoy life infinitely more than our best day here on this earth!

I’m reminded of 1 Corinthians 15:55:

When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written:
“Death is swallowed up in victory.
O death, where is your victory?
O death, where is your sting?”

Praise God. For now, I will get some rest. More lives are waiting to be saved. The pager may go off again. Please pray for me as I serve Christ on the front lines in Dallas!


2 thoughts on “Reflections of Being “On Call” in the Cath Lab

  1. Jeremiah, I stumbled onto your blog while doing some research for a paper. I have been in the Cath Lab for nearly 26 years now; 21 of which have been at the Cleveland Clinic.

    Thank you for your thoughts. Your attitude, as well as your Christian faith, are refreshing to my mind and spirit. The devil loves to attack us all, and one of the ways he goes after me is with discouragement and professional burnout. God always reveals things when I am in need.

    • Thank you Kenneth. Being in the cath lab has taught me a lot…clinically and about life in general. There are things we see here that force us to reckon with life and death. There are certain thoughts that are difficult to escape, such as the frailty of humanity. It is a good reminder to live life to the fullest possible every day. Life is too short to keep us down. God bless! -J

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