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  • Jane Wheeler

Life Interrupted

We often forget because we have plans, datebooks, calendars and schedules that our lives are really not our own. It is when your life gets interrupted that it actually gets interesting.

Interrupted can mean many things, good or bad, it is the moment when life takes an unexpected turn. At that precise moment we, you and I get to make a sudden decision – how will we handle it?

We are on our way to work, probably our usual 5 minutes behind and bam! A flat tire or a fender bender. Interrupted.

You get to work and by 10:00 you have the day planned and organized when the phone rings, your child has just thrown up at school, please come and get them. Interrupted.

Your doctor comes back with the news that you are pregnant. Life is about to change. Interrupted.

You have planned your vacation time for the year but a good friend calls up and asks if you would like to go with them on a holiday all expenses paid – next week. Interrupted.

That time after work when you are tired, ready to relax but just need to pick up milk for the morning. The 5:00 crowd has already hit the grocery store and you hope to be in and out in record time, you round the isle and walk right into someone you have not seen for 5 years. Interrupted.

Sometimes the interruptions are planned by you. Vacations are another way of interrupting our lives, it is when the vacation gets interrupted that it can be an issue. Lost your wallet on the beach, the car got broken into and things stolen or the fact you love it there and decide not to come home! Life interrupted.

Yesterday I got up, got ready for the day, headed into town and realized that I was having some kind of weird chest pain that was only increasing, not decreasing so I opted for the safe route and headed to emergency. Interrupted. (spoiler alert, I am totally fine).

Stuck behind those drab hospital curtains in an emergency cubicle is one of the places no one longs to be. You are now interrupted and lonely. After the initial assessment you are usually left alone until the doctor shows up, that can be anywhere from a few minutes to a few hours.

Yesterday for me, it was a few hours. It was an interrupted day not a moment.

You can hear all the commotion beyond you in the other parts of the hospital, you can sense people all around you, but you see no one. There really are no secrets in the emergency area; a simple curtain will not keep out the noises of the little cubicle beside you. Human functions, nurses probing questions, doctors’ examinations and diagnosis, all are thrown out there for you to hear sitting there all alone in your little space beyond the other side of the fabric. You hear babies crying, adults crying, people groaning, people throwing up, nurses talking in hushed and not so hushed tones and there you sit, waiting, wondering, watching for someone to care about your ailment. Stuck behind your curtain, waiting until that fabric gets pushed back and someone, anyone would walk in to check on you, to interrupt your interruption.

I am very grateful for cell phones at times like that. They are a lifeline. You can “chat” with other people via text or email, you can keep you family informed, and imagine, you can even use your phone as a phone.

I was moved to a couple of different places in the hospital and it was some great people watching and listening. I got to observe the staff in different situations and many interruptions. It must be a terribly frustrating place to work. There are not enough doctors here to handle all the patients who come in, so being a nurse means you are restrained as to what you can do until the doctor gets to the patients. For patients this is an agonizing wait, often in pain.

I saw both sides, an overworked nurse and a crying lady in pain waiting for something to take the edge off her pain. The nurse got yelled at rudely by the husband while we the audience had ringside seats. The nurse did not loose her cool, maintained a professional tone and kept on with her work. The rest of us sat there not sure where to look in the awkward situation. I prayed.

I heard rather than saw an irate lady yelling at people about her car being towed away – interrupted! She was ready to call Justin Trudeau apparently about the problem, or the Queen. I marvelled at how outrageous her threats were and felt so sorry for the emergency staff that she seemed to be yelling at. Then I found out she was emergency staff yelling on the phone, who knows, maybe if she called Trudeau and explained the horrible parking maybe we would get our new hospital get finished sooner? But the rant did little to calm the atmosphere in the emergency room of those others whose life had also been interrupted.

There was the Godfather voice in female form on one side of me, growling to everyone about how nobody listened to her. She was longwinded on the complaining side, parts of me even wanted to tell her to be quiet because I was tired of hearing her whine. Then the dear elderly man on the other side who kept forgetting he couldn’t walk and kept trying to get up. Interrupted.

It was when I finally started to pray for all those around me, asking for compassion, grace and calm that I realized if I could not control my interruption, I could use my time there to benefit those around me who were also hurting, both staff and patients.

We bring a presence with us everywhere we go, interrupted or not. I was cranky after waiting 4 ½ hours to see a doctor, but so were a whole lot of other people. When I got moved to a bigger “waiting” area that is a shared space, I saw 2 other people who had come in at the same time and had been waiting 5-6 hours without seeing a doctor. I decided to start interceding for them in prayer instead of focusing on my issues.

We can be used in whatever, wherever we end up in our day; from flat on our backs in bed, in a waiting room, to the grocery store - the decision on how we react to life interruptions – which are going to happen regardless of how we plan, is totally ours.

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