Monday, September 14, 2009

Stand as Witness

I'm one more quarter closer to becoming a nurse. The Nursing Fundamentals start this coming January and I'll be wearing those navy blue scrubs for the first time in my life. The reality of being a nursing student has yet to kick in. I do live the life of a student, but the life of a nursing student, as I'm told, is much more chaotic. Like any profession, it requires immense commitment and dedication to higher learning for the cause of patient care and safety. I truly hope to be a great nurse.

I remember staying with my father in the hospital during his angioplasty after he'd had his third heart attack. The woman in the room next to his was suffering from pneumonia, "a side effect of lung cancer from smoking during my youngn' years," she said. What keeps her in my memory is the loneliness she must have experienced during her frequent hospital visits. My father was hospitalized for about 11 days. As my family would come to stay with my father on his long nights in a hospital bed, the woman next door was alone. Only the sounds of her coughs and respirator could be heard along with the hum of the t.v. I sat with her on a few occasions and we made random chit chat. She mentioned how a friend had phoned with promises of coming to visit. When I visited the woman days later, her friend had yet to visit. On the afternoon of my father's discharge from treatment, I stopped to say goodbye to this woman. The coldness seemed to intensify the moment my feet entered her room. She was still there alone, her friend had not visited, her eyes fixed on the t.v. screen, but her mind seemed miles away. I bid her goodbye and wished her well so she could return to the comforts of her own home. In my mind I wondered if living alone at home was any better for her than being alone in a hospital.
As I walked out of her room and passed the nurses station I again wondered about how many patients these men and women in scrubs encountered on a daily basis with such lonely lives. We enter this world alone, but it is to be that we also exit our lives alone? Our existence on earth can not be so short for us to not leave our bodies surrounded by at least one soul standing witness to all that we were.
I hope to stand as a witness to another person's existence.
I hope to make a difference. I hope to be a good nurse.