I want to tell you a story. It’s a story about my friend – my MICUBFFAW, and how she influenced me, and my patient care.
Several years ago our unit manager assigned each Registered Nurse a “Medical Intensive Care Unit Best Friend Forever At Work.” My particular MICUBFFAW and I just happen to still work on our floor, and I still tease her, “Hey – MICUBFFAW!”
One day, I heard a story about my MICUBFFAW, and I heard it from a patient’s wife. I can’t recall the details of this patient’s illness or the circumstances surrounding their hospitalization. But I remember the patient, I remember that he suffered from dementia, and I remember that his darling wife had the neatest Scottish accent ever. She visited us several days after her husband’s discharge and brought home made shortbread cookies to my friend and I, as well as some other gifts to thank us for caring for her husband. She was so sweet – and adorable!
But, back to my friend – my MICUBFFAW. What the woman told me about her, was what she did after finishing her shift. My friend removed her badge, stuck it in her pocket, pulled up a chair, and sat next to our patient’s wife for a good amount of time. She told her, “Now, I’m no longer the nurse. Now, I want to talk to you like a friend, a daughter, a sister, a mother……”
My friend’s willingness to punch out, and then come back in the room to talk with this woman as her husband lie sick in the ICU is just one of the reasons I admire her. It’s only one of the lessons learned over the years about how to be a good nurse. It’s one of the practices I still hold onto, and yes, I remove my badge and stick it in my pocket just like my MICUBFFAW.
Oh, I could find some desk job somewhere, I’m sure. And I’m sure my back would be forever grateful, but I’m so afraid I’d miss the moments when my own heartaches as a daughter, sister, wife, friend could be turned around and used to comfort someone else. It’s one of the things I love most about being a bedside nurse, and it’s something my friend does quite well – because she has had her share of heartaches and health scares. When I get the opportunity to participate in the most difficult times of people’s lives and I get to share my own vulnerability and heartaches to bring THEM comfort – it’s worth every tear I’ve ever shed. And I happen to know my friend would agree because I watch her comfort others often.
You can keep your high heel shoes and business suits. Give me a comfy pair of navy scrubs and a pair of sneakers I’ll continue calling my “school shoes.” Heading home after having shed a few tears with my patient and their family is more meaningful to me than….. well, more meaningful than just about anything, really.
“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.” 2 Corinthians 1:3-5