Innovative Nursing Part Deux: Being Genuinely Present

I am fortunate to have the opportunity to work along side some interesting and wonderful people. These are their stories, a glimpse into their world, and I am their witness. I bring their tales as messages of the good that can be found in the darkest of moments. I believe we are surrounded by extraordinary acts all the time....we just need to take the time to observe. Nurses Announcements Archive Article

Innovative Nursing Part Deux: Being Genuinely Present

You've heard me say it before and I cannot help but believe firmly that it merits repeating: I work with some incredible people.

Now let's keep it real, they are merely people the same as the rest of us--but for some reason I am fortunate enough to bear witness to their moments of magnificence.

Meet James. Jim, Jimmy when he's cheeky, or Jimbo when I'm feeling deeply entrenched in my southern roots.

No--No, Jim. Stoppit. Get over here and stand still. I want to talk about you and you're making it very difficult.

James, you will be eager to note, stands a towering 72 inches--

What's that?

Excuse me. 72 and one half inches, thank you very much, of well tailored, Army-honed physical fitness. He is a serviceman with two tours in Iraq and one in Afghanistan tucked with near OCD precision in his belt. His wife adores his carefully trimmed facial hair, and, although I think he looks like a mutant offspring of Peter Pan and a Lumberjack (and I have told him so to his face....many times), I would be inclined to agree that it somehow suits him. Besides, who else but Jim could rock the hell out of a pair of mutton chops for no other reason than because he can? He's a straight shooter, known for lacking a filter in the best of times, a diligent nurse and an overall upstanding gent. A real man's man, Jim here has held Belching Contests (yes, epic enough to merit capitalization) in the lounge and peppered us with cringe worthy stories that leave us lost in hilarity and craving more.

But in spite of all these um...shall we say "unique" qualities, Jim can be a touch difficult to work with. It's not so much the lack of filter as it is that he sometimes slips and forgets that those around him are civilians.

Such is life. Besides, he means well.

So why am I rambling at you about this fella? Well, it can be difficult to appreciate what I am about to tell you unless you have met the individuals in question. You all know me by now well enough to have a rough idea as to the odd duck I am. And I really wanted you to get the opportunity to meet someone extraordinary--hence the introduction to my coworker.


No one comes to the hospital ED hoping for surgery as the outcome. Pain medicine...Lots and lots of pain medicine, perhaps.

Let me slice you open and rummage around in your bits? Yeah, not so much.

In fact, for many, the thought let alone the threat of becoming part of a surgical experience is enough to bring the inner child rampaging to the fore, complete with tantrums, wibbling chins and weepy doe eyes. For some, it represents being out of control--at someone else's mercy. For others, it is the sudden implication of mortality--that our journey on this spherical bran flake hurtling 'round a blazing raisin pouring sun is all too short.

Youth can be a matter of perspective and it can also be a frame of mind. Of course, it can also be outright physical. In this case, it was a bit of all three.

I wandered into suite to assist in facilitating a quick start to what was an emergent belly case to find Jim helping the young patient wriggle over to the none too soft surgical table. Tear tracks were already apparent on her flushed cheeks and she settled on the table near him with a muffled sighing sob. Anesthesia fussed with her IV as Jim gently draped her trembling form with warmed blankets and chatted softly with her in his rumbling baritone.

She answered, her voice wavering and muffled beneath the mask held in his great paw as he knelt down near the bed to bring himself closer to her, instantly lowering his intimidation level exponentially. As I watched and charted medications, pausing for the intubation and putting myself on standby, I heard him ask her what type of music she would like to listen to while we waited for anesthesia to be ready. She gave a little shake of her head, tipping the bouffant covering her curly hair free and murmured something that only he could hear.

In answer to her words, he softly cleared his throat, reached up to dab away the tears from her temple, and in a pitch perfect lilting falsetto crooned,

I watched as her small feet kicked childishly at the blankets as she giggled, a faint blush swiping her high cheekbones. And then, beneath the obscuring dome of the mask, a different sound came. Not crying. Not language, so to speak.


She unsteadily warbled her way into the first verse and Jim, bless him, didn't miss more than a beat or two before joining her, matching pitch for pitch (who knew his voice could reach that octave?!).

Bemused anesthesiologist's hands stuttered in their familiar waltz of wipe, syringe, flush, wipe, syringe, flush and well practiced and oft used lyrics of induction never found use. Instead, she was gentled to sleep by warm, tingling milk of amnesia and a very unorthodox lullaby, safe within a nurse's keeping.

To Jim: An officer, not quite a gentleman, and, as it turns out, a damn fine Freddie Mercury impersonator. Thank you for reminding us, always, that covers do not indicate contents and stepping outside one's comfort zone can yield amazing results.

I salute you, sir.


CheesePotato: Noun. Constantly teaching. Forever learning. Overtired, dark humored, over caffeinated, occasionally sulking, chronically petulant. Delightfully unbalanced adrenaline junkie with a penchant for good wine. Always got your back.

2 Articles   254 Posts

Share this post

Specializes in Peds, Med-Surg, Disaster Nsg, Parish Nsg.

Thanks for another reflection into the life of a nurse going beyond the call of duty. Great story!!

Specializes in Critical Care, ED, Cath lab, CTPAC,Trauma.

For me....that is what nursing is all about. Appreciate your co-workers for their strengths......we all have weaknesses.

Thanks for sharing. :inlove:

Your articles never fail to make me so interested to read them.

Beautiful. Thank you.

Specializes in Peds Urology,primary care, hem/onc.

Beautiful! Gave me chills!

Thanks for the reminder to appreciate co-workers for their strengths.

Absolutely beautiful story of the real life of a nurse. As a student trying to get in to BSN/MSN program.....this is inspiration and a reminder to keep up the hard work to get in and get going with the practice. This is a reflection of why I want so bad to be a nurse. Thank you thank you thank you!!!!!

Specializes in LTC, Hospice, Case Management.

All honesty here...The title of the article did not do much to capture my attention - but then I saw "Cheesepotato" & knew instantly it was on my "must read" list. Thanks! As always, you never disappoint. You are probably a wonderful nurse but I think you missed your calling as an author.

My first thought when seeing the title of this thread: "genuinely present? As opposed to what? An inflatable nurse replacement doll or something?"

Seriously though, excellent article. Its easy to forget that what's routine work for us is sometimes absolute primal fear for the patient. And thanks for reminding us that good nurses come in many shapes and personalities.

I know some nurses who are very easy to get along with.... But not very good nurses.

And some nurses who aren't exactly "people persons" but excellent at their job.

Great read with the song in the background

This is beautiful. Made my day. I felt like I was in the room, and I want to cry. Thank you for sharing this.