I'm coming up on my two year mark and there are definitely some patients I already know I'll never forget. To celebrate my work anniversary, here are some patients (with HIPAA modifications of course) that have validated all the reasons I chose to be a nurse six years ago, not knowing why. I love my job and I love the people I care for. Getting to know their quirks and antics and making them feel cared for in moments of imperceivable despair, bottomless depression, intolerable pain, or simply moments of feeling nothing at all is a huge deal to me. I don't take it lightly. I'm so thankful that I never had the turmoil of figuring out what I wanted to do, or the anguish of not knowing what my passion was when all these graduation speeches and influential speakers have barked nothing but to "find your passion" and to pursue it with vigor. I'm thankful that one day it just clicked as I walked on the Boston College campus and decided to switch into nursing just because I happened to see the words "William F. Connell School of Nursing" posted up on a building and figured "why not?" Learning the miracles of the body and coupling that with the human faith we see everyday in terrifying situations has forced me to become a better person. Because of you, I am more tolerant. I am more compassionate. I am more loving. I am more human and experience more feeling, good or bad.
This is the secret to life, and I am so lucky to have learned this all before my twenty-fourth birthday.
"Manny." Thanks for letting me care for you the night before you passed. Thank you for your huge family, who made me feel oppressively anxious and eyed my every move each time I pushed more IV Dilaudid. Thanks for your beautiful daughter, who called the floor and thanked me for caring for you. As a new nurse, you just don't want to fuck up. I'm glad she saw more than that, because all we wanted to do was let you go comfortably.
George. The happiest guy on earth. A gleaming light and reminder that good energy attracts good energy. And apparently attracts good neutrophils, too.
"Mary." Whose husband I thought was going to cardiac arrest on me when she passed. The son whose tears landed on my forehead as I consoled him after she passed. Thanks for teaching me resilience and how to not cry on the job. Seeing how strong your family was during the dying process made me stronger, like I knew how to endure the death of patient. It helped a lot in the coming months.
"Melanie." The nicest lady in the whole wide world. Gentle, sweet, and patient even when she suddenly lost her vision and then the sensation in her legs altogether. Sometimes I don't understand why people are mean in general - dickhead customer service line agents, cashiers that ring you up at the grocery store, or people who wait in line for too long for their coffee. You lost your vision, your legs, and then your mind, and you never lashed out. Makes me think twice every time I get aggravated at somebody. You've taught me kindness and patience like no other. For that, thank you.
"Ron Swanson." You were an asshole sometimes and you knew it. You could be a real jackass, but I thought it was so cute how hard you tried to be sweet. Anyone could literally see that you were fighting with yourself to force a "thank you", or even a nice tone, for that matter. I took care of you on a twelve-hour day shift after what seemed like two hours of sleep and came in dead exhausted and drained. I honestly wasn't in the mood to take care of you. But I knew I'd regret not trying so I sucked it up and we had a good day together. You even tried some jello that day. You sat in the chair, watched some tv, smiled, and even called me "sweetie"! So many milestones accomplished that day. Made me realize that no matter how much of a douchebag someone can be to you, you should still try your best and be a good sport about it. Because when they go, you get so much fulfillment in knowing that you did everything you could for that person. Knowing you gave it your all for them in the final stages of life validates your character. Thanks for being the Grinch that you were. It's made me a lot nicer to the people around me.
"Ellen." I took care of you on the morning that you needed your thoracentesis. Your husband was at your bedside and I remember how uncomfortable and sad you were. It was a busy day, but one thing I learned in these two years is that checking up on your patients from time to time without them having to hit their call bell does wonders on building trust. Somehow we found a way to help you relax throughout the process and it went really well. You gave me movie tickets because you were so grateful after getting it over with. I watched the Good Dinosaur with those tickets! Thank you for being you and champing it out with me.
"Deb." I know I didn't make much of a difference with your care but I do remember you falling asleep for a solid thirty minutes after I gave you my first reiki session. You were nauseous out of your mind. Knowing I gave you peace of mind for just those thirty minutes was a big deal to me after learning that you passed because part of me didn't want to do it out of fear of doing it wrong. I'd only done it once officially on Mike before! But it worked and you were able to take a break from the agony. For that, it was worth it.
"Carmen and Rebecca." You guys were two of the sickest people I ever cared of. Being my age, it literally made me wonder how something so awful could happen to people so young. While I was at home showering, playing soccer with my friends on the weekends, and drinking my liver away (just kidding, Mom), you guys were in the hospitals fighting for your lives. I used to get really bitter about working Friday nights and weekends. After caring for you, those shifts were insignificant because they taught me to never take those Friday nights and weekends off for granted. People don't realize how lucky and trivial they are. I'm positive you guys both would have traded anything to just be able to go back to work to pay a bill again, or to walk to the bathroom to take a shower. I'm not rich and famous, I don't travel nearly as much as I wish I did, and there are things I wish I was better at. But you've both helped me count my blessings and love the ordinary little life I've been given. For that, I will certainly always remember you both.
Cheers to my third year!