Let's Remember That Nurses Provide
The Backbone of Healthcare Support
Nowhere amid all the bloviating coverage of "healthcare reform" can I recall ever, even once, hearing or reading anything about nurses and the crucial role they play in the entire healthcare system. That's as unbelievable as it is depressing, because anyone who has ever been in a hospital or even visited a friend or loved one there can't miss noticing that nurses are the real backbone of everything. I was reminded of that truism when I sent this Washington Post article to a friend named Kim, a nurse and a writer (her as-yet-unpublished novel is a gleaming jewel). She responded with a note whose gentleness and loving regard for her patients blew me away. I read it several times since, and teared up each time. I share it with you all with her kind permission:
After reading this I was immediately transported to my nights as a nurse on the oncology floor. I've been blessed to have those connecting moments with patients. As a new nurse I was terrified to take the dying patients. I didn't know what to say, felt awkward, and just downright sorry for everyone. The longer I worked there the fonder I became of this type of nursing. I started to request the dying patients and didn't mind if I had three or four at a time. It was a gift to be able to care for them during that sacred time. People are so vulnerable and afraid. I found that the night-time was the hardest for them because there were no distractions. Most families were gone and the only person to give them any comfort was the nurse assigned to them. Sometimes you would meet the patient for the first time and a few hours later you would be helping them through a crisis or even their death. I once had a patient assigned to me that I was told was having end of life issues. She was afraid to die because she was unsure if she believed in heaven. She had been struggling with this for a few days and had been visited by the hospital chaplin, various family members, etc. She was one of eight patients I was assigned to that night, several of which had a lot going on that would need my direct attention. I felt led to go see her first, even though I could have easily started with another task. I walked into her room and found the seventy year old sitting up quietly in her bed. I pulled a chair close and introduced myself as her night nurse. I then reached for her hand and gently talked about what I had been told from the other nurse concerning her possible death. I shared some of my thoughts about death, asked if there were any questions she had, and if I could help her in anyway. She gave me the most peaceful knowing smile and said, "No sweetie, I'm fine now." I asked her if there was anything she needed and she declined. I left her and went on to check on my other patients. It took me an hour and a half to see them all before I could go back to check on that first patient. When I did I found she had quietly died. It is in those moments that I feel God reassuring me that I chose the right profession. I could go on and on about the many people I have cared for. This particular one is high on my list. Thank you for sharing. I am going to email my mom the article. She's a nurse as well.