Sunday, May 20, 2012

The gift in room 3.

Standing in the middle of the nurse’s station, I faxed a chart to Spring Harbor for our Psych patient in room 11 and I watched the patient in room 3.  Her twisted body was lying on the stretcher in a semi sitting position. She was covered in a blanket and her feet were hanging out, uncovered.  I chuckled to myself because that is how I lay as well~ I hate my feet covered!  She was talking to her husband~ He was gently rubbing her crooked hand…they noticed me watching and both smiled at me, so I smiled back. 
I finished faxing the chart and then went into room 3.  “So how ya doin in here?” I asked her. 
“Just fine.” She answered with a smile.
“Can I get you anything, or reposition you?”
“I would like to be turned.”
I grabbed our tech Paula to help me and we gently turned and repositioned her to the left side, propping pillows behind her and under her legs and between her knees. I gave her a back rub, applied some lotion and covered her with a warm blanket. She thanked us and then said “I’m so sorry to make so much work for you girls.”
“Please don’t say that…it is our pleasure to help you.” I answered with a smile~ and I meant it.
This woman has MS and it has ravaged her body…she is not old…she fully has her mind and can breathe on her own but she has no use of her body what-so-ever!  This woman touched my heart.  She did not complain once during her 12 hour ER stay before a bed finally opened upstairs to admit her to~ NOT ONCE!!  Beyond that she was kind, gracious and funny. 
After her husband left and my other patients were all settled, I went into her room and sat down.  I wanted to ask her something. “I wanted to tell you that you have touched my heart today~ your positive attitude and gracious nature is rare, esp. because of your situation…have you always been a glass ½ full kind of person?”
She began to cry…I got nervous.  “I’m so sorry; I didn’t mean to make you cry….”
She gathered herself, I got a tissue to wipe her face…“No…you didn’t do anything wrong…thank you for telling me I touched your heart…I never get out of the house for visiting anymore…I rarely get an opportunity to talk to other women and I thought I would never make an impact on anyone ever again…”
I cried…not a full out sob but tears…
We talked further and she told me her story~ 1 grown child who is away in Afghanistan…her husband of 34 years is her high school sweetheart…they live modestly…her husband has a small repair business at home so he can care for her as they cannot afford to hire care…she once sung in the church choir and she misses it terribly…
The reason she says she stays positive, “I have always been a happy person, though I did go through an angry stage when the MS started taking away my outside life…but then Jesus reminded me that He was with me…that I still had a purpose …and my husband is still my best friend…”
Could I be this positive in this situation?  Probably not~ but I would want to be. 
I thanked her for sharing her story with me and she thanked me for asking.  I’ve thought about her so much in the last few days because she has led me to pray, to ask God for more gratitude and to see all situations as gifts for growth…and I thanked Him for giving me the opportunity to spend some time with this woman~ to be present in her moment and for showing me the gift of her attitude.


  1. Amazing what our patients can teach us!

    1. Yes~ as long as we take the time to listen! be present and observe...

  2. Beautiful. Thanks for writing about nursing, and for capturing one of those moments- - one of those tiny private moments which mean so much. The essence of nursing, right?

  3. Meredith~~ I totally agree that these moments are the real essence of nursing!! I want more of them...In the ER there is very little time to sit and actually talk and listen to our patients, so when it happens it means so much!!

  4. I have had a few similar patients over the year that your post reminded me of. People say we are angels, but in comparison to those special patients, I tend to disagree. No matter how hard our job can be, we get to go home. We (generally) have our health. We have an "escape".. these gentle souls have none.. and yet? they are full of grace. We are so blessed to be able to care for them. :) Thank you for sharing.

  5. Code Babe~ thanks for your comment... and you know~ I do feel like we are angels at times...but unfortunetly some can be demonesk as well... I for one am so thankful for these little moments of time that remind me just why I became a nurse and what really matters in life!!