I’ve been a nurse for a year and 4 months and I realized that I haven’t told enough stories from my experience so far. I mean, I have a story after every single day I work. I’ve been asked what some of my craziest stories are. Well, there are plenty. However, there are a few that stick with me. True, I have the horror stories. I have the gross stories. I have the funny stories. I have the sad stories. Some days, I only feel like an over-glorified waitress. However, I had an experience with a patient a couple of weeks ago that really stuck with me.
This elderly patient was adorable. I literally just wanted to take him home with me. It was one of those days where I actually had the time to spare to talk with him. He was polite, thankful, and overly-talkative. I couldn’t help but smile. As I sat and talked to him for a few minutes, he started talking about his life. He told me how he was there when the first cadet class at the Air Force Academy settled in Colorado Springs. He talked about the process of building the Air Force Academy and how he was there when it all started. He talked about the development of Colorado Springs. I stood there, with his lunch tray in my hand, and listened. As he continued talking, he began to talk about all the people he had lost along his journey. Listing them off, he paused, and I saw tears well up in his eyes as he stopped his steady stream of chatter. I put the tray down and walked over to his bed. I put my hand over his, smiled, and said, “Hey, you’re doing really well. We’re going to get you better, ok?”
We don’t save every person in the hospital. It sometimes feels so easy for me to see these people as a task during the day – keep them alive, report abnormal data to the doctor, give their medications on time, make sure they eat, deal with any outbursts, keep them clean, coordinate their plan of care…But, every once in awhile, I have an interaction with a patient and it reminds me why I became a nurse.
This patient told me, “You get older and you realize how many people you’ve lost along the way…” I realize that this Christmas season is different for everyone. Maybe it’s a reminder of who you have lost. Maybe it’s a reminder of that one year that didn’t go so well. Maybe you just don’t appreciate the holidays. Maybe it’s a reminder that your family is just not together like it should be. I have to work this Christmas, and there are obviously people in the hospital on Christmas. I could be annoyed that I have to work on Christmas day. But, I’m not. These patients I take care of could be going through the worst periods of their life. I bet they want to be home with their families too.
It’s so easy to forget my task in the world of nursing. I get caught up in the technicality of it all. I get caught up in the pathology and the protocols. Sometimes it takes a moment with a patient, like the one a couple of weeks ago, to remind me that I am there to make my patients smile. I’m there to make them hate their situation a little bit less. I’m there to reassure them. I’m there to serve them in a way Christ would. So, no, I don’t mind working on Christmas. After all, Jesus is the reason for Christmas. So, rather than focusing on what you don’t have this Christmas, focus on what you do have. Focus on what you can give. Focus on making someone else’s life just a little bit better. There are so many less fortunate than we are. Just take the extra time to make a difference.
“And we urge you, brothers and sisters, warn those who are idle and disruptive, encourage the disheartened, help the weak, be patient with everyone. Make sure that nobody pays back wrong for wrong, but always strive to do what is good for each other and for everyone else.”
-1 Thessalonians 5:14-15