There was once a patient who was very, very ill. He was in the hospital receiving all sorts of care to extend his young life. Doctors and Nurses were working round the clock to stabilize Billy so that he could leave the ICU (Intensive Care Unit) and go out to the wards with the rest of the healthier patients.
But he wasn’t progressing as fast as everyone would have liked. He remained ill, thus having to spend more time in the ICU than most patients. As a result, the staff got to know Billy and learned about his young life. One day, as things started to take a turn for the worse, the doctors made him NPO (nil per os), meaning that he couldn’t have anything by mouth. He was hooked up to more tubes and drains. Nutrition came in through a tube in his nose that went into his stomach. Billy was in bad shape.
A few evenings later, as his nurse sat with him, Billy asked for some orange juice. His nurse explained to him what he already knew: his stomach couldn’t tolerate the juice, and they had strict orders not to give him anything by mouth. Billy persisted. His nurse, around 4 in the morning, called his doctor, woke him up, and pleaded with him to allow Billy to have some juice. The doctor said no.
Reluctantly, and as gently as she could, Billy’s nurse relayed the information from the doctor. When her shift was over, Billy’s nurse went home. Later that morning, Billy passed away as a result of his many complications. When his nurse came back to work and heard the news of Billy’s passing, she felt incredibly bad that she hadn’t fought harder to get Billy that sip of juice.
For the rest of her career, over 30 years in nursing, she beat herself up for not getting a dying man his last wish. Realistically, Billy would have died with or without the juice. If she had given him the juice, and he died, she would have beaten herself up for that, too.
There are some things that are just simply out of our control. We have to try to identify the things we CAN have an impact on, do OUR BEST to get them done, and then be ready for the outcomes, favorable or not. I don’t think that we should continue our lives wondering ‘what if’ or ‘if only i had…’. There are way too many variables involved.
All we can do is to do our best HERE and NOW.