“Your work and your ways will give you the opportunity to share your witness and your winnings with the world.” ~Louie Giglio
Two years ago, I was privileged enough to begin a journey I’d waited my entire career to start. The act of even applying to be part of this elite group of advanced practice clinicians was intimidating in and of itself. I wrestled with conflicting thoughts. On the one hand, feeling I was (hopefully) capable and at least worth an interview. On the other hand, wondering if I could truly live up to what was seemingly the be all/end all of autonomous critical care nursing. Applying seemed audacious, but despite all that, I just couldn’t let it go. Thankfully, my dear friend and mentor, Shelly, encouraged me to ride along on a flight prior to applying…just to see.
Well this was me…that first flight. Not sure if you can tell, but I LOVED it. We flew all over the state that day. I didn’t throw up! That very day, with Shelly’s reassurance, I decided I would believe in me, and trust in God, that if this was truly for me…He would show me.
Fast forward, and lo and behold…I was hired. I hadn’t been so excited and terrified for something all at the same time since awaiting the birth of my child. Over the course of the past two years, I have been pushed well outside my comfort zone and been confronted with pretty much exactly what I expected I’d encounter. I’ve worried, cried (a LOT), rejoiced, mourned, grown in my confidence, been scared, succeeded, doubted, questioned, learned, learned some more, and even more after that.
Nobody can prepare you for what this job is truly like. Nobody. It is an exquisite and humbling opportunity to work hard, in the most unique and extraordinary environment imaginable, with a dedicated family of professionals with whom you will form the richest bonds; the kind that will last forever.
This observation brings me to the point of this post, which I must tell you, is difficult to share. After much thoughtful deliberation, and hours and weeks spent in prayer and fasting, I have decided that at the end of this month, I will conclude my tenure as a Flight Nurse with Cox Air Care. The reason is simply this: as it turns out, I can do everything at once, but that doesn’t mean I should. I’ve found myself in a situation where I’m about as overextended as I’ve ever been. Those of you who know me well know I will pour myself into everything, often at the expense of my own time, and in the last couple of years…my health. I’m not “sick,” mind you…but I’m not anywhere near my best, either. In October of this year, I will complete my coursework for my Master’s Degree, and while this is exceedingly difficult for me to admit, I know that if I continue on in this juggernaut of a schedule, my husband and classmates will literally have to drag me across the finish line. That is not in any way how I want this to go down.
I am pursuing a graduate degree because I feel a clear calling to undertake it. God has something for me, I have no doubt; and this is the anointed path He has set me on. As the end draws nearer, I’m being prompted strongly to do three things: narrow my focus, lighten my load, and restore my health. If I have learned anything in the last few years, it is to walk in obedience. God has a plan for each of our lives. He lovingly and faithfully promises it’s so…
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11
That being said, it doesn’t make leaving this team any easier. The people whose faces you see in the photo above, and many more besides them, have affected my life in such a profound way, I don’t know that I can describe it in a way worthy of their action. First, because of course he’d want to be first, my Jeffrey. This man child…I love him as though we’re family. Without hesitation, I would say his clinical mentorship along with his unwavering support and belief in me made the most profound impact on my ability to perform successfully in this job. Not only that, but our friendship is likely the most valuable takeaway I leave with. The camaraderie of a perfect flight crew partnership (and as far as I’m concerned, ours was perfect) is deep. You depend on one another for your very lives. You look out for one another, depend on one another. You learn to recognize every facial expression, anticipate every reaction, and interpret every subtle body language; its an undeniable chemistry, and in my case, a saving grace…because I am awkward and clumsy as it turns out. This is why Jeffrey referred to himself as “my handler.” Ha!! I love you, friend.
Then there’s my sweet David. My polar opposite partner, who grounds and protects me just the same, though in an entirely different manner. David and I straight up SAW some stuff. Every “worst flight ever” I had was with him. So much so, after one particularly trying flight, I declared, “Partner! From here on out, you need to be buying me flowers after every flight! No excuses!” Clearly I was joking, but an hour or so later…here comes David from the gift shop…flowers in hand, with a card that read, “Happy now?” Carlye and Shelly will have to assure you’re fed, have your morning honey packet, and get your “very important paramedic business” in each morning. Thank you, partner, for teaching me so much about just being; for entertaining and accommodating my 100 MPH thinking-out-loud with a reassuring nod and a smile, but mostly…for your kindness. You are a wonderful man.
One more (and please no one be offended), but this post can only be so long! My sweet Carlye. I’ve shared this with you on our road trip to TPATC, but the very morning we met at new hire orientation, I knew we would be friends. I wanted to be your friend. Introverts unite!!! I don’t know that either of us would have survived being the new peeps without our uncanny ability to vacillate back and forth between my #dearsusan moments and yours! The math alone would’ve done us in! You’re incredible, Carlye. I am so proud of you. And I love you so very much.
If you’re still reading, thank you for bearing with me as I say goodbye to something I have loved and treasured the best and most perfect way I know how–by writing it. The bottom line is this: God puts people and opportunities in our paths so we’re challenged to grow in our faith, know His love, and share it with others. He challenges us to turn away from our fears, but rather, to set our eyes on Him. Believers are called to do just that…trusting and relying and standing on the foundation of His Word. He calls us to be different. He proclaimed it in His Gospel…
“You are the salt of the earth… . You are the light of the world… . Let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.” Matthew 5: 13-16
I will never forget my time here. I will never take it for granted, nor will I allow time to diminish the impact this experience has made on my life, my confidence, or the trust with which I approach everything else to come. CAC–from dear Susan, Dr. Ross, the incredible pilots, mechanics, and the entire crew–you are truly salt and light. Thank you just isn’t enough. Be careful, my friends.