Love in a Time of Hospitals
One of the best parts of nursing is the ability to see the depth of human emotion and the strength of human relationships. Sometimes, even in the most painful and sad of places, you can find what true love really looks like.
As a nurse, you have to prepare yourself for the good, the bad, and the ugly. Also, you should probably take some time to steel yourself against the smelly, the disgusting, the offensive, the exhilarating, and the exhausting.
And wait.... did I forget to mention the terrifying, the grotesque, the impressive, and above all else, the amazing?
I am a student, and I know I have a loooong way to go in nursing. I'm essentially the equivalent of a nurse toddler: playing with my care plans and concept maps and stethoscope, dressed in my ponytail and shiny new scrubs and HIDEOUS nursing shoes (I would love to meet the person who designed heavy white nursing clogs in a dark back alley some day).
I won't pretend to understand yet what it fully means to be a nurse...and maybe I never will. But what I can talk about is how even in a few short months, I have seen one of the most amazing parts of nursing: the depth that human emotion can reach.
I have seen how beautiful and strong relationships can be between people: in couples, in families, and in friends.
For my first clinical last semester, I was placed on a medical-surgical floor. I was nervous to be cut loose onto the hospital floor...I wanted to run back to my in-class instructors and beg them to reattach my safe care-plan and patient simulation training wheels! Weeks passed, I was able to take a blood pressure without severe hand tremors, and I felt that I was settling in to being on the floor.
After about a month and a half, I was assigned to a 60-something-year old woman who was in the hospital for a cancer-related issue. Upon completing my pre-clinical prep work, I had seen how intimidating her case was, due to a variety of precautions, nursing interventions, and consults. She had been in and out of the hospital for weeks, and I was nervous to treat someone who was likely sick of nurses and the whole hospital experience.
I took a deep breath and went into her room to introduce myself, and found the tiniest, cutest, frailest little old lady cocooned in sheets and pillows within her bed. Her husband was at the bedside, and they immediately put me at ease with their warm smiles and kind demeanors.
As I cared for this adorable lady, it was immediately apparent how much she and her husband were in love. No matter what uncomfortable task I performed on the patient, her husband stayed by the bedside the entire time. As I performed the bedbath, her husband held her hand and teased both of us. As I emptied her colostomy bag, she teased her husband and discussed their plans for the upcoming long weekend while he took notes and made her laugh.
No matter what I did, this couple kept smiling and reaching for each other.
The husband would duck in to steal a kiss from his bride, and she would always respond with a little blush and a coy smile. They told me about their many children and grandchildren, and how they had grown-up down the street from each other, leading to their eventual courtship and marriage. But the part that made my heart smile most was when I assisted the patient with ambulating around the floor to help her regain the strength in her legs.
As I did this, her husband told me proudly that they had been married for 46 years, and that he was "mad about her cancer, because their marriage was just getting started."
With this statement, the patient's eyes welled up with a small sheen of tears, and she squeezed his arm. We then continued to walk, my throat too clogged up to speak.
It's amazing to think about such a love between two people, and I hope that one day I am lucky enough to experience the same. But that day in clinical made the greatest impression on me because even in the blur of fluorescent lighting, illness, and pain that is the hospital, there was this absolutely beautiful moment of love between two people.
There was this impenetrable relationship that was only made stronger by the tragedy of cancer.
This, to me, is one of the most inspirational parts of nursing: not only do nurses restore heartbeats and give patients breath and save lives in the moment, but they allow for the beauty and strength of love and relationships within those lives to continue.
Nursing allows you to see not only moments of horrific tragedy, but also sweet, tender, and amazing moments, like the quiet handholding of a couple still in love after over 40 years of marriage.
This is what I love about nursing, and why I chose the profession: it is not only the care of patients and the alleviation of their suffering, but it's the treatment of those people outside their illness.
It's not just about saving a person from their pain: it's about saving their loves, their relationships, their likes, their dislikes, and who they are.
It's about saving their entire lives.Last edit by Joe V on Jan 11, '15
My name is Molly Hershman, and I am in my second semester of a 14-month accelerated Bachelor's program. Even though I spend each clinical sweating through my scrubs and praying I don't kill anyone, I absolutely CANNOT wait to be a nurse!
Must Read Topics0Jun 8, '13 by J.A.B.,RN, ASNThat is a sweet story . I can now touch patients and not tremble also (just finished my first semester) and after shadowing the lovely nurses in the ER where I volunteer I don't think I'm afraid to hurt them either (needle sticks, rolling, boosting etc.). Anyways it is also sweet that you are so impressed by your patients and their families. I think the world needs nurses with emotions like you! Good luck0Jun 11, '13 by SexyFloridaGirlThis is amazingly written. So often I see glimmers of this in my patients, and then I will come in a couple days later and they will be discharged, moved to another floor of the hospital, or most heartbreaking, passed on. Many of my patients are elderly, usually with dimentia, or often so sick (I work on a BMT/Onc Floor) that they can't even think about living life at that moment, much less being pleasant to someone taking care of them, or as they view it, poking and prodding them to do things they usually see as unnecessary. These kinds of stories from fellow nurses really make me know I have chosen the right profession for my career. However few and far in-between our care they may be.