One time I had to take care of a white supremacist with a huge swastika tattoo on his arm because I was the only white person working on the floor that night and he wouldn’t let anyone else in his room.
Another time I caught a medication error committed by another nurse on a heparin drip, but it still did not save the woman. The patient had told me the previous shift that I made her feel safe.
Another time a women in the throes of stage 4 cancer talked to me about wanting to kill herself but she didn’t want her kids to fight over her life insurance money as they had disappeared when she got the diagnosis.
Once a huge, burly confused mental health patient pushed me as hard as he could up against a wall to get me out of the way so he could leave the room.
I got sucker punched right in the jaw by a little old lady who was not a fan of me needing to re-start her blown IV.
I was in the room when a woman received her last rites, surrounded by her entire family.
I’ve called families at 2am telling them it might be a good idea to come out to the hospital, like, soon if they want to see them while they are still living.
I got a call from employee health one time after a shift saying, “Oh by the way, that patient you took care of has bacterial meningitis and they weren’t in isolation. Here is what to watch for…”
That’s some heavy stuff to carry with you. I could go on and on. These are just some of the stories of my nursing career that stick out to me. Not to even mention all the new little pieces of my heart that I carry since becoming a school nurse. You could talk to any nurse of any age in any field and they could give you a run down just like this. We see, hear, and do things that others cannot even imagine. We are invited into the sacred places in these people’s live where they are most vulnerable. We place our own mental and emotional and even physical heath on the line to step in and do for others what no one else will do. We see people at their worst, but we also see them at their best.
I’m one of those people who considers being a nurse a true calling and gift from God. It’s not just something I decided to do, it was something I was born and molded to do. I was pulled into it by a deep seeded need to help other people. It is the hardest thing I have ever done and the most rewarding thing I have ever done. Next time you talk to a nurse, remember that they carry lots of heavy things in those hearts and minds of theirs.