I was tired. We were short on nurses that day. My coffee had worn off and my patience had worn thin.
I sat down beside the last patient of the day and tried to mentally slow down. She was here for a check up, she wasn't feeling any better, had no money, had no hobbies, had no energy or breath to accomplish anything, smelled like cigarette smoke, and didn't know how to get rid of her anxiety and depression.
As I type this, my heart is tugged with empathy for her as I see her struggles bunched together like that.
Yet I struggled with cynicism. She hardly let me get a word in edgewise and I'm not sure she heard me when I did. Her heart was weak from a long history of cocaine abuse. It was pumping at a mere fraction of the strength and efficiency of a normal heart. It was no wonder she was short of breath and tired.
I tried to listen. I tried to respond with kindness. But in my heart, I was frustrated, and if I'm real with myself--annoyed.
Then Dr. A came in to see her. He was tired, too.
She barely let him get a word in edgewise either. She cried and laughed and complained and pleaded.
And he just kept gently re-directing her. He went above and beyond what most doctors would do. He didn't care if her past had led her here. He simply wanted to heal her. He went all over the clinic to find her a free medication. He spoke to her the same way he speaks to anyone else. He treated her with dignity and without judgment. He smiled and gave her hope.
I stood by and watched.
Because a Muslim doctor just showed a Christian nurse how to be more like Christ.