March 31, 2008 was the worst day of my life. My grandmother, who helped raise me, died. I will never forget that day. Every little detail is burned in my brain. What I wore, who was there, the smell in the room, I know it all. I hate that day.

The doctor wanted to see us in a small room just off the Intensive Care Unit where my grandmother was staying after her by-pass surgery. I knew walking down the hall what we were all about to hear. She was gone. My mother, sister and great-aunt crowded into the room.

“…we did what we could…”

“….she was very sick…”

“…I’m so sorry…”

They cried. Wailed. I didn’t. Maybe because I wasn’t surprised by the news. Maybe because I am not much of a crier, but I do come from a long line of dramatic women. The doctor led them to my grandmother’s bedside. I stayed behind, stone-faced, but I could see them in her room, hugging one another and crying openly. It was at that moment a nurse entered the tiny office, and I will never forget what she said to me, “I want you to know I am very sorry for the loss of your grandmother. I know you don’t want a hug, and that’s okay. I wont touch you. But I want you to know, if you need one, I am here for you, honey.”

It crushed me. I cry now thinking about it, though I didn’t then. This woman who had never met me, saw me. She saw my dynamic and understood how I deal with things, enough to know that a hug would make me feel worse, not better. She didn’t shame me for not displaying emotion because she knew that not showing what I was feeling is not the same as not feeling. My family still doesn’t understand that. This stranger saved me that day. She took the worst day of my life and made it better. She made me feel loved and supported. I will never, ever forget her. My only regret is not looking at her name tag, because I would love so much to thank her. She is my hero.

Yesterday I met another incredible nurse. I had to get blood drawn and I am absolutely terrified of needles. The last time I had to get a vaccine, I cried. I hate it and I have been putting off getting blood drawn for years, but without getting into details, my doctor made it very clear that I needed to have this done. After work I went to the lab where I was led straight into an area where they would take my blood. The nurse, Meghan, walked in and was about to get right to it. This was obviously a place where needles and blood-letting were run of the mill. I warned her that I was really nervous. My voice was shaking. She asked me when the last time I had blood drawn and I told her I was 17. She asked me to sit down, and my eyes filled with tears.

“I’m sorry, but I’m really scared”

I expected her to laugh, or to inwardly roll her eyes. I am after all a 32-year-old grown woman. I was dressed in my work clothes, a corporate woman, carrying a laptop.

“It’s okay. We are going to do this together, and promise it won’t be that bad. I hate needles too, but I promise, this will be okay”

And it was. I hid my eyes, but she walked me through everything in a soft calming voice, telling me I was doing great and that it was only going to be a few more seconds. It really was no big deal. I was terrified, but she was so understanding and calm that it helped calm me down. Really, I know that being afraid to have a few vials of blood drawn is ridiculous, but she never made me feel ridiculous and that is completely awesome.

Nursing has to be an incredibly difficult, taxing, disgusting, demanding job. I could never do it. To think that there are nurses in this world that manage to do all they have to and still have time to comfort those in need and indulge crazy women with needle phobias blows my mind. I don’t know how nurses do what they do, but I am so thankful they do.


2 thoughts on “Nurses

  1. Min says:

    Being that you are my soulmate, it only makes sense that I cry enough for the both of us. Case and point, I cried whilst reading this post. Your experiences with nurses make me happy because I have not had the best experiences with them myself; even in almost identical situations. My Papa always said I should be a nurse, and I never wanted to. It’s a tough job with brutal hours, and all the medical knowledge aside, a good chunk of the job is basically customer service (which I am amazing at, clearly the reason Papa thought I would be a good nurse. I also despise needles!)– reading people, assessing what they need (not always what they want) and giving them exactly that. Which sometimes is just a kind word and the knowledge that they understand what you are going through even if your own family doesn’t. It is a thankless job, which is why I avoided it. But I sure am glad there are people out there that do it with conviction, poise and copious amounts of empathy. It makes up for the ones that are mean, unhappy and expect thanks everyday.


    • Ashleigh says:

      I firmly believe that some people are called to certain professions – nurses, teachers, police officers. Unfortunately the demand is such that there are a lot of people in these professions for whom their job is not a calling but a pay cheque. Its pretty obvious which type you are dealing with when you interact with them.


Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s