To be a nurse means more than just caring for the ill. It is a privilege and gift that you are born with. You have the ability to care for, to teach, to listen and to cry with patients and family. Lives are placed in your hands with trust.The reward is not monetary for a nurse as the care of a living being has no set value. The reward comes from within.
As a nurse you will work hard, sweat heavy and often feel unappreciated but at the end of the day you will know, from within, that your work has made a moment in someone’s life just a little bit easier. Perhaps you relieved the pain of a dying patient or offered conversation to a lonely aged woman. The words of thank you were not heard by you – they were seen in the eyes of those two human beings. The dying patient is not afraid any longer and the lonely aged woman is not alone. You made a significant difference in the lives of two people.
I remember when I first became a nurse. I was working in a Home caring facility for 60 elderly patients. I was warned about a patient I will call Helen. The other nurses and nursing assistants said that she often through her food away and would not eat. I got to know Helen very quickly. She was a witty woman with a story to tell. She spoke proudly of her family that never visited and always gave excuses as to why they did not come to see her. I spent many hours with Helen and found that her acting out and throwing food away was the result of her loneliness. Helen needed someone to care about her.
Many months passed and Helen and I would joke and tell each other stories daily. Helen trusted me. I was now her family. In the fall of that year Helen began to fail. Her heart was weak and her mind was cloudy. I knew that her passing was imminent. One Saturday evening I sat next to Helen’s bed and asked her, “Helen, is there anything special that I can get for you?” Helen replied, yes, a Cherry Ripe bar. I laughed and then laughed again during my drive home from work that evening. The next day I stopped by the store on my way to work and bought the biggest Cherry Ripe bar that I could find. I couldn’t wait to give it to Helen. After I had finished my medication pass for the evening I went to Helen’s room and gave it to her. Helen was overwhelmed and cried with happiness. Her eyes were the clearest most crystal blue that I had ever seen. Helen enjoyed her Cherry Ripe bar eating every last morsel.
Helen passed away a few weeks later. Her family never came. To this day, when I feel that the art of nursing is thankless and I cannot go on another shift, I think of Helen. I did make a difference in her life. The reward comes from within.
Do you have a "Helen" in your life? We would love to hear your story.