Monday, October 1, 2012

Lesson in Compassion

I worked this summer with a terminally-ill patient who was deteriorating quickly. It was hard to watch, but that experience taught me a lot. First, you are never going to be able to pick your patients unless you're a psych doctor. Secondly, there's always a reason why you have the patient you have. My lesson was compassion. I know you must think that a nursing student should come into any given program with it, but  it truly doesn't kick in until you see someone faced with death. What in the world could you possibly say to someone with numbered days? Nothing. Just be there. So that's what I did. I was everything and anything the patient needed. And their family, as well.  Really, you don't have one patient, it's usually two- the actual patient, and the one forced to watch helplessly as the end draws near. The members of said family were hurting, internally, and no pill or procedure was going to cure that. You let them talk, show you pictures of their life together. You pick their brains and show interest in that life. You shampoo carpets if they've mentioned how bad it needs done, EVERYDAY,  because nobody in the family will do it. Instead of being fixated on what couldn't be fixed, by jumbo, that carpet could be fixed. So, you do it. It's so gratifying to them that something was accomplished. And somebody heard them.
 I know, doesn't sound like nursing, does it? Well, it was. Maybe the best kind there is. You can fix someone with medical treatment, but  the treatment of the heart is an entirely different prescription.  And I found it's just as important as any intervention you could do as a nurse.
Not long after school started, I asked about the status of this patient only to be told they had died the week before. I couldn't believe that nobody picked up the phone.  To say that I felt horrible doesn't even cover it.

God  has always showed me compassion . This time, he let me experience it. And He expects nothing less from me. This picture sums it up: I hope I can just be a beggar who can show another beggar where to find some bread.....and  always show compassion.