Wednesday, February 25, 2015


There she is with her scuff free shoes, shiny new stethoscope, perfectly ironed uniform--the nursing student I will be training.

I can see it in her eyes-- excitement, idealism, anticipation.

"Here, try to position the blood pressure cuff this way."  It suddenly comes back to me in flashes of images-- the first time I remember wanting to be a nurse:

Running errands with Dad, I must have been about four or five years old, when we stopped at the doctor's office .  As usual, with most kids, it came at the most inconvenient time,
"Can you take my little girl to the restroom?"
Who me??  He was asking this complete stranger to take me somewhere?  What was he thinking? 
She stopped and turned around--
"Sure, come on hon." 
Her hand felt warm----capable, strong, safe
I studied her out of the corner of my eye as she spoke in a soft reassuring voice,
"I will take you right back.  Now don't be afraid"
short, well trimmed, clean nails
a soft touch
knowing eyes
I liked her.  For some reason I knew I could trust her.
"Here you go, back to your Daddy.  Take care"
She looked directly in my eyes and stroked my hair.
"Who was that Dad?"
"Oh, that was the Nurse" 
Even at such a young age, I could sense she genuinely cared about me--someone she had just met, a total stranger.
"You want to position the bandage this way to cover the whole area."  I adjust it to show her.
"OK, this is so awesome.  I've never done a wrap like this before."
The tasks are usually learned quickly.
But how could I teach her the intangibles??
How could I prepare her for the most exhilarating as well as exhausting experience of her life??
How could I explain what it's like to be privy to the most exquisite highs--
     the birth of a baby
     seeing an amazing recovery after a serious illness
     watching a stroke victim walk out of the room after months of therapy
down to the deepest lows---
     being present at the devastating news that the cancer has returned
     watching someone take their last breath
     sitting with a family in silence as they mourn their loved one
of a person's life.
Would she want to hear the truth that a little piece of your heart stays with each person you take care of?.....
That you  may feel so helpless at times when everything has been tried that all you can do is pray and hope for the best.....
That sometimes you shed tears behind closed doors because as a professional you are supposed to keep it together.....
That it's a job that you will always love but occasionally hate because of the way it becomes part of your life, part of the person you are.....if you are doing it right....
No, there are no words to tell her.  She will have to live it--to grow, evolve, become, experience it on her own.
And may she always be graced with them...
 those hands
always warm,

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