What we have done for ourselves alone dies with us.
What we have done for others and the world remains, and is immortal.
Just a few days ago while hosting a demonstration at my home, I introduced each of my guests to each other. Some of them were fellow nurses from work, and one of my other guests is a friend who knows the hospital where I work quite well. Unfortunately, her husband had a stroke a couple of years ago, and she is more familiar with the halls of the hospital than she’d like to be. He was a patient on several floors there, as well as at other local hospitals and nursing homes. But “hands down,” she said that the hospital where I work, is the best.
Of course, that made me feel really proud of where I work! But then she said, “And there was this one nurse on the fourth floor. I’ll never forget her.”
“Wait a minute,” I said. “I worked on the fourth floor! What was her name?”
“Dana!” She answered. And before I could ask for a description of this “Nurse Dana,” to see if it was the same Dana I now worked with on my new unit, she teared up and told me of how tenderly she cared for her husband. Then she said, “Dana had just lost her husband. She was the best nurse in the entire hospital.”
It was! It was the same Dana I now work with!
Well! You know, I HAD to call and text her what a sweet thing someone had just said about her! And just like Dana – she too, remembered the entire family.
Many of my 12-hour shifts often feel like a series of mundane tasks ranging from getting a 4th blanket for a cold patient, to fishing around in the bed looking for a lost cell phone, or just scratching someone’s back. None of those things ever feel like very important tasks. But they are. They are very important. They are far more important than they seem at the time when multiple call lights are going off and we have charting to catch up on.
Though I have likely never crossed the nurse’s mind who winked at my Dad and made him smile – I have never, ever forgotten her or that kind gesture. I became a nurse because of her. She doesn’t even know it. Just like my friend never forgot Dana, I will never forget my Dad’s nurse.
The guest who remembered my friend Dana’s kindness has reminded me of some important things I need to remember. Our patients and their loved ones may not ever remember what we said or did, but they will always remember how we treated them, and how we made them feel.
As nurses, I really think it is important to remind each other of that, and to lift each other up often with encouraging words. It’s the fuel that keeps us going. We need each other for so many reasons, not the least of which is that we “get” one another and our twisted senses of humor (while we are eating lunch)!
To my fellow nursing friends – those little things you do, like tucking in feet, washing a face, scratching a back, saying a prayer, giving a hug, or just simply taking your time and making eye contact when you ask how your patient is – Those things may seem like they go unnoticed. But they don’t. They are remembered long after we have moved on to new jobs, or even to retirement. And they are remembered by the very ones we come to serve and care for.
I’m so thankful this little encounter happened. I’m also thankful that I know Dana! And, thanks to her, I’m going to embrace those little not-so-mundane tasks in a fresh new light starting tomorrow morning!
Let all that you do, be done in love.
1 Corinthians 16:14