Seeing the letters 'RN' with new eyes

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    Not too long ago, I signed my name as "RN" for the first time. I felt like a kid in a candy store.

    I mentioned it to one of my co-workers, right after I did it. She said "AWWWWWW!" like you would coo at a child's accomplishments. She was delighted, and mentioned it to someone else. They grinned from ear to ear, and it was obvious that they remembered a similar moment in their own lives. I knew that signing those letters after my name was the most important thing that had ever happened to me. It felt like I was on top of the world.

    Until the next night.

    I had to quietly tell a man that his wife was unable to respond to him, no matter what it looked like. I had to tell him that the brain bleed she had suffered was so large, that she would never respond to anything again. The doctor had already explained this very thoroughly. He was not ready to believe it, and was waiting for the miracle that would keep her with him. I was as gentle as I could manage, but inspiring false hope is cruel and wrong. He said, "It's just so hard to believe that she isn't in there anymore". His voice cracked as he began to cry quietly, and I reached for his hand.

    So, I sat and held his hand for quite awhile, outwardly calm, but wracking my brain trying to come up with something that would help relieve his pain. I finally decided to just be there and let him have some quiet human companionship. After quite awhile, he said a few things that made me understand that he was seeking approval to go home for the night. He was emotionally bereft and physically exhausted.

    I took my cue and told him that he needed to go home and rest. I promised to take good care of her, and said I would call him if anything changed. I told him what time I would be going off shift, and that a wonderful nurse was scheduled to take care of her the next morning, so he should try to get as much sleep as he could. (I had no idea who was even on the schedule) He hugged me, and held on for a moment, trying to compose himself.

    He gratefully left the unit. He knew somewhere inside him that this was the place where his beloved wife would die. He did not know exactly when, but he knew that he was standing in the last place her heart would ever beat. I hope I was comforting to him.

    What I discovered was that writing "RN" is pale and insignificant compared to the awesome responsibility. I was his caregiver as well as hers, and assisted him with the unhappy reality of getting ready to say goodbye. The hour I spent with my patient's husband made me finally feel like a nurse.
    Last edit by Joe V on Jan 17, '18
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  3. by   MySimplePlan
    There should be a Kleenex warning on some of these essays.

    You convey emotion very well. You should keep a journal of your career...your gift for writing should not take a back seat to your nursing career. Can you find a way to meld them?
  4. by   NurseBrittney
    I hope you don't mind, I shared this article with my class. We are about to graduate next month and I cried like a baby when I read this. I'm so glad I pick nursing as a career. Everyday gives me another reassurance that I can and will make a great nurse. Thank you for sharing this.
  5. by   tachybradyRN
    That was beautiful. Gave me goosebumps. I remember the nurses who were at my little brother's bedside after he had suffered a massive brain stem injury. He had been in the hospital for about 11 hours and was about to be pronounced braindead, and the nurses really kept my family together. I cried on the shoulder of a woman I didn't even know, but knew I could trust, because she was a kind, compassionate nurse who had taken the time to build rapport with my family. And when it was time to go, they gently helped us say goodbye.
  6. by   Meems
    Thank You so much for sharing that with us. I know at times during the crabby patients/co-workers/management, the stress,the paperwork we tend to forget why we do what we do. At least most of us started out in this field to help people, to be of service, whether it be CPR, or comfort a loved one of a patient. I hope more people read this and are renewed in their original reasons for becoming a nurse!:clphnds:
  7. by   AprilRNhere
    Wonderfully written.
  8. by   NabiRN
    I am a new nurse grad and I love your message. Thank you for sharing. I look forward to making a difference in people's lives.
  9. by   piasugarjersey
    I always give new RN's a journal when they start in our unit. I wish, I had kept one over the years. What a book we could all write! But also what a great way to look back at your practice and see your own development.
  10. by   kiki_me
    very beautiful.. i love it. thank you very much for sharing and for touching hearts with this message. nurse:
  11. by   OgopogoLPN
    Wow, that was very powerful. The last line especially moved me. I will remember this as I enter the nursing world.
  12. by   Hospice Nurse LPN
    That was just awesome! Thank you so much for sharing it with all of us.
  13. by   KckStrt
    You are truly an inspiration, an outstanding example of the kind of RN I want to be!
  14. by   LilgirlRN
    I recall working with a new graduate. We had an elderly woman sent in from a nursing home. She'd been hit by a car a few months before and had bilateral arm fractures making caring for herself impossible. She had no family locally, the closest living relative she had was a great neice that lived 500 miles away. She was sent to us with decreased LOC and fever. She was sceptic and was dying, however she was not a DNR. I begged the ER doc to contact her kin and ask to mnake her a DNR, she weighed 60 pounds soaking wet. One xchest compression would have cracked her ribs. I had her on the monitor, she was bradying down, the doc was speaking with her neice, she was made a DNR. I dimmed the lights in the room. I asked the doc if we could give her a lil morpine, he wrote the order. I sat down beside her bed, pushed it slowly and then held her hand. The new grad asked what I was doing. I said I'm staying with her till she's gone. "Why?" I said would you want to die alone. A light bulb went off over her head. She sat down on the other side and held her other hand and the elderly lady slipped peacefully away. The new grad became an RN that night even though she'd had her license for awhile. That night was the epitome of what we do, let go when it's appropriate and allow someone to go to their restful plae with dignity.