When Days Are Numbered


It was about 6am and it had been a busy night in trauma.  We were sitting at the desks catching up on charting and finishing blood administration records from earlier in the night.  The emergency department had just calmed down a bit and we were trying to wrap things up before shift change at 7am.  The radio crackled and we heard a voice come from the other end ‘metro medic to Vandy, trauma alert.’  We huddled around the radio to hear the report from the medics on scene.  ‘30-year-old male, gun shot wound to the head, agonal respirations, unresponsive.  ETA 10 minutes.’  Static.  Crackle. Silence.

We prepared the trauma bay to received the patient.  The team dressed out in their blue gowns, scrubs caps and gloves.  I took my place in the corner of the room, where the scribe stands.  Standing on a small stool to have the clearest line of sight to the patient, I filled out what information we did have and then prepared to record the entire resuscitation from every vital sign to every intervention to every response.  The medics rolled into the bay with the patient and the team set out to work.

The energy in the room was muted.  There was not the normal high energy buzzing there typically is during trauma resuscitations.  Everyone in the room knew that this mechanism of injury with the clinical findings we were seeing had a very poor prognosis.  In other words, is a non-survivable injury.

The resuscitation continued without extraneous words by any of the team members and a heaviness settled over the room.  The normal buzz of energy was replaced with a palpable somberness.

Standing in the corner of the bay, peering down over all the team members, recording the events that were taking place, I felt a deep sense that the work that we were doing in the trauma bay early that morning was sacred work.

My faith with always be deeply interwoven into every area of my life and my work is no exception.  From the most mundane tasks of the job to the high intensity resuscitations, it is all sacred work.

The work is sacred, I believe, because we are merely vessels being used in ways beyond what we can fully know.  We have been given sharp minds filled with knowledge and hands that are skilled and experienced.  But what we do not possess is the ability to number our days or the days of another’s life.

One of the firm beliefs that I have always held is that our days were numbered before there was yet one of them.  I have found a deep peace and an unmatched solace in this belief and the older I get the more I believe it deep down in my bones.

We do not number the days of life, not our own, not another’s; only the sovereign hand of the one who created our beating hearts does.

The resuscitation went as expected for this type of injury.  The patient rolled out of the bay, transported by the paramedic and respiratory therapist up to the ICU.  As the team members pulled off their gowns, gloves and caps, a silence settled over the bay.  The gravity of the situation hung heavily in the air.  But I was reminded that we do not number our own days or the days of another.  There’s not a mind filled with knowledge, nor hands skilled and precise enough that can change the days that were set before time when none had yet come to be.

‘In your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them.’ Psalm 139:16b ESV