Pinky89 (2,339 Views)
Joined Jan 10, '13.
Posts: 21 (52% Liked)
I work in an adult ICU where I had the privilege of caring for a wonderful patient for 3 days in a row. She was the kindest, sweetest woman, who unfortunately had something terrible happen to her. Despite the unfortunate circumstances, her positive attitude and spirit were inspiring. Her family was just as wonderful. I grew close to her and her family over the 3 days I worked.
On the last day, I transferred her to a step-down unit. After my shift was over, I stopped by her new room to visit her and her family. I wanted to check on them, make sure they were doing ok, and let them know I was thinking about them (I was going to be off work for a few days and didn't know if I'd ever see them again). After saying my goodbyes, hugging the patient and her family, and stepping out into the hallway, the husband pulled me aside. He thanked me for the exceptional care I had given his wife, told me I was a great nurse, and wanted me to know how much I was appreciated. He started to tear up and so did I. It was an emotional, touching experience. He went to shake my hand, and that's when I felt it....the folded up piece of money in his hand. My heart sank.
Immediately, I told him I could not accept his money. But he insisted. He wanted me to know how truly grateful he was. Again I told him I would not accept it. He wouldn't listen. Defeated, and not wanting to make a scene, or be disrespectful, I put the bill in my pocket and walked away. When I got to the elevator I was so confused. I wanted to cry. I felt guilty and ashamed. I wondered if I had done the right thing by stopping by to visit her after my shift. I convinced myself that if I hadn't stopped by, none of this would have happened. And worst of all, I felt alone. I didn't want to tell any of my co-workers in fear of being judged, getting in trouble, or worst of all being fired.
I took the bill out of my pocket when I got to my car. $50. The whole drive home, all I felt was sadness. I replayed the previous scenario over and over again in my head. What I could have said. What I should have done. When I got home, I put the $50 bill on my kitchen table. I decided that I wasn't going to spend it. I couldn't even think about spending it. I looked at it over and over. The guilt never subsided. A few days passed, and that's when I decided what to do.
I found a non-profit organization that dealt with the same condition that she unfortunately had to experience. Then I made a donation in her honor using the money her husband had given me. Instead of keeping the money, and feeling guilty, ashamed, and sad, I decided to turn this experience into something positive. I knew that the patient and her family wouldn't want me to feel upset, and I wasn't going to let myself be upset either.
Put in the same situation, I would have told the husband that if he wanted to thank me, he could write about his experience on our hospital survey. I would have told him to recognize our unit and our nurses as the best. Because we are.
Sometimes being a nurse can be a thankless job. We provide our patients with exceptional care despite hospital-wide budget cuts and staffing shortages. We come to work early and leave late. We don’t always get breaks. Sometimes we don’t even have time to use the restroom. We apologize for things that sometimes aren't our fault. We get can get spit on, bit, kicked, and be manipulated by patients. We work in high-demand, high-stress environments that would break the weak. We are exposed to all types of bodily secretions. We are advocates for patients who don't have family. We speak up for those patients who society has given up on; the homeless, the drug and alcohol abusers, prisoners, and gang members. But when it's all said and done, we have the honor and privilege of caring for patients and their families at their most vulnerable time.
I don't know about you, but I think our job is pretty awesome. And while I'm still uneasy about receiving money from my patient's husband, I know that he did it because he wanted me to know how much I was appreciated. How much nurses are appreciated. Because we are the heartbeat of the hospital. And we make a difference each and every day.
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