Soul to Soul
Sometimes, it is the non medicinal comfort and care that makes a big difference in the wellbeing of the young or the old, in a facility or at home.
Growing up in the 60's was a wonderful magical time for me. Everyone my age seemed to be just as happy as I was choosing whose front porch we would set up to play Barbie's. American Band Stand was on flowing out of the open front door so we could hear it, or the same scratched worn Beatles LP spinned over and over. I had a special birthday when I turned ten years old. My mother gave me two gifts that are still part of who I am today. I received a transistor radio and a microscope. She knew I loved music and science. She caught me performing my primative little autopsies out in the garage on field mice and grasshoppers. She also taught me how to ballroom dance and do the box step to her jazz that she played all day long on her "suitcase phonograph."
I learned to sing jazz listening to the greats. And I listened to Motown and the Beach Boys on my transistor radio under my pillow at night until the battery crackled. By day I was scooping up pond water and putting the slides under my microscope, and entertained for hours at the cellular activity. God help the poor little pollywogs I got a hold of.
Fast forward three decades to my late 40's. I wanted to be a nurse and was accepted to a nursing program. Time to get serious. My days of singing in my brother's bands, or dropping by to accompanying my uncle at clubs doing live music came to a hault. I have a serious profession I'm trying to pursue here!
I did well in the sciences, and carried a dunce cap in my back pocket while I struggled to work out calculations, especially pediatric calculations. Now I am gearing toward the last stretch of my program and the last clinical rotations. Three months prior to graduating, I meet an unforgettable patient I am assigned to. She has seen many students and many staff nurses come to her room. I'm just another one.
I establish a professional raport with her and she does her best to go along with the inexperienced nurse to be, with training wheels stuck to my whites like a toilet paper train. After a few days of caring for her, I go in to see her and change the linens with her in the bed. As I'm doing this, I softly start to sing a very old jazz song.
She said "let it out, I want to hear you."
I continued a little stronger and she joined me word for word. When the song was complete, the grin was priceless and ear to ear.
She asked "do you sing professionally?"
I said "no, but I've recorded a few at my brother's home studio recently."
She wanted to know what song it was and I said "well, it's the one I just sang."
She asked me if there was any way she could hear it. Now I am fearing crossing a professional/student line by the thought of getting caught by my instructor, or a classmate finding me out and getting booted from my last semester. I did think about it, and decided I would chance a secret that I have not shared until now, as I write this article. She got it from me and hid it like it was gold in her sewing basket. She had a little CD player with headphones to play her own jazz selections.
Her secret was sealed with me. I smuggled it in and gave it to her on a Wednesday and wondered all weekend "did she like it, did she hear a flat note, did she like the jazz arrangement?"
I came in the following Monday morning for clinical and I wasn't assigned to her. But did make it down the hall to her room for something else (what a sneaky pete). She carefully dug deep into her hiding place and told me she was thrilled to hear it and it made her nights special. Wow.
Three months later a few weeks before I am to graduate, I am sitting in a large waiting room at my local hospital for my appointment. From across the room I see a familiar face. It is her in her wheelchair with her aide. I don't look again. My name is called and I have to walk passed her. As I do, she extends her hand out toward me and grasps mine and says "you will be a nurse. But to me you will always be a jazz singer. Thank you, from my soul to yours." I was speechless as I watched her eyes glisten with moisture and her bottom lip started to vibrate. She winked at me, and out of that wink dropped one solitary tear.Last edit by Joe V on Jan 9, '15
I am an LPN going on two years now. When I have the time, I still pick up the guitar off the stand and play something that soothes my soul. I hope someday soon, that music can be more integrated into patient's lives as a therapeutic aide.
Joined: Dec '06; Posts: 461; Likes: 309
LPN; from US
Specialty: 3 year(s) of experience in med surg ltc psychDec 18, '10Wow, don't you love the thrill of bonding with a patient like that! How wonderful for you. You know we are so lucky to get to meet, know, and care for so many different people in our lifetimes as nurses. It sounds like she was a special gift from God sent to give you that encouragement and reassurance that you are on the right path. If you ever work in long term care you will be able to share your singing with the patients and staff and they will LOVE it. If you don't I hope that you will volunteer to entertain the folks at the holiday in a local nursing home. Use your gift for singing along with your gift of caring. I promise you will be glad you did.Dec 18, '10Yes it was a significant experience for me. After I was licensed and started working on an ortho/neuro floor at my local hospital, I had another neat experience. After getting report, I wondered if the gentleman's last name was related to a musician from my town who has gone on to fame. Turned out he indeed was this blues/rock artist's grandfather, and shortly the parents and extended family were in his room visiting and we talked away about when his next tour was coming up etc. But the neatest thing was, this patient started out very cantankerous with the staff, but after him and I were sharing and acknowledging the music he was a pleasant joy. He asked me if I knew this old blues artist or certain songs etc. Really makes a difference and a wonderful distraction from a patient's pain, self image and depression while hospitalized. You know, I wouldn't have submitted this particular article now that I see the final winners of the article contest were related to holiday spirit and giving. I followed the instructions for the writing contest and I there was no guidline pertaining to making it a holiday themed story. A bit disappointed with this contest I must say, but glad someone found the meaning and feeling behind my story. Appreciate your post.Dec 20, '10Wow, music really sets the tone, I was precepting a new icu nurse he was whistling and then apologized to the family when he caught himself whistling... The family told him to keep whistling cause they enjoyed the song he was whistling... Whether singing or whistling it tells our patients we are happy and content with what we are doing..Dec 21, '10Neat story! Life's experiences often bring people together and good things happen and memories are made....
I'm thinking that's what LIFE is all about.....memories!Dec 22, '10This is what makes us the "caring profession". We touch the hearts of those who put their wellbeing in our hands. In return we are touched by our patients. Those are the patients that we remember most and probable remember us as well. Don't be afraid to share part of yourself.
Thank you for being a caring individual, carry that throughout your nursing career.Dec 23, '10....and if neither nursing or singing work for you, you could be a writer! You are a very talented person! I enjoyed your post tremendously!
SDec 23, '10I don't know about your school, but in mine, you would have earned many extra brownie points from our instructors for your connection to your patient.
DC, ED NOC RN ADN
Abbreviations R UsDec 24, '10To samyRN and DC Collins, your replies sure did me a world of good. I'm happy to know that others gained a good feeling from reading my article. I do love writing. There is an absolute freedom in the written word, just as much as certain music makes people free to express themselves. You remember the rock concerts you went to. A lot of "expressing" going on there!
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