When I began nursing school, I remember having to learn how to correctly fold a washcloth in order to give my first patient a bath. My buddy and I spent ten minutes trying to accurately wrap the corner of the wash cloth around our four fingers, and get the middle of it correctly in the palm of our hand……
Frustrated, we finally just gave up and got to work bathing him. I remember thinking to myself how ridiculous it was, and our patient likely thought we looked pretty funny too, trying to figure out how to hold the washcloth. In the end, he was more comforted by our compassion than our correct hold of the washcloth.
I’d raised two sons who were now in middle and high school, and had given them both thousands of baths as children. It’s not rocket science.
I’m a Mother.
The day my Dad died, I sat down on the stairway to share that sad news, and held my sons tightly as I told them. I cried and grieved with them. I loved my Dad, and so did they. It was the biggest loss to date that they have had. My Dad was sick my entire life, and I was always expecting him to die each time something happened. I know what it’s like to live with someone who has a chronic illness that could take their life at any time.
My mother is elderly, lives alone, and would kill me if I said anything else about her in this blog, so I won’t. 😉
I’m a Daughter.
My best friend Connie was murdered in 1988. We were in the Army together, but she was stationed in Italy, and I was in Seoul, Korea. There was no internet back then, and it took about two weeks before a handwritten letter arrived telling me that my friend was gone. I read that letter in my office, not expecting that news at ALL….. Oh my goodness, I cried so loudly. And I grieved a long time…….
I am a Friend.
I have a brother and sister who are both medical professionals, and in the past two months of this COVID crisis, we have been in closer touch than we have ever been. “You doing okay?” or “Wanna chat?” texts come late at night, or early in the morning. We care about each other.
I am a Sister.
I am a Mother, a Daughter, a Friend, and a Sister, and so many other things…… And so much of real-life, bedside nursing comes from life experiences in each of these roles. I know what it is like to lose a child. I’ve lost one. I know what it is like to receive bad news about your parent. I’ve lived that chapter. I know what it’s like to bring a parent home and admit them into hospice. I know what it’s like to lose a close friend. I’ve lost a few. I am familiar with the heartache that comes with the anticipation of losing someone we love. There’s no pain quite like it.
I do not know everything, and Praise God there is so much hurt I have not experienced or am the least bit familiar with. But it is likely someone else I work is familiar with hurts I haven’t felt, and could add to this their own personal heartaches. God just always seems to place us with the patients and their families who need us the most.
When I think of hero’s, I think of colorful, invincible, non-human, unrealistic cartoon characters who show up, save the day, and return to their hiding place. I can assure you, I am not any of those things, and neither are my colleagues at work in the ICU. We don’t wear capes, we are exhausted at the end of a shift, we more often than not don’t save the day, and we couldn’t fly if we tried.
It is from the very heartaches we’ve experienced and the difficult times we have walked through in our own lives – mother, daughter, son, father, friend, etc., that we draw what we need to care for our patients.
When you call our unit in the middle of the night, because are so worried about your loved one that you simply cannot sleep – you’re not bothering us. We get it. We really, really do.
And the reason that we “get it,” is not because we’re hero’s; it’s because deep down inside – we’re just like you.
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.” 2 Corinthians 1:3-4 ESV
It’s my prayer tonight that if you currently have a loved one in the hospital whom you are unable to visit, this comforts you, and you sleep. And if you’re an RN and feel weighed down by the heaviness of all of this COVID crisis and not seeing your own family – I’m praying that you remember the oath we took, and know that you being a Registered Nurse is far bigger a compliment, than being just a hero. You’re much, much more. XO