I question my own motives.
Staring into the dark brown eddy they call a river around here, I ask myself why nursing, why care, why this level of commitment, has suddenly become so pressing and desired, like water in a drought.
I’ve dealt with many nurses in my life-as a child I was hospitalized a few times, with some random problem no one has ever explained. Later, when my mother was sick, I encountered numerous nurses-in the chemo and radiation labs, on the ward, and finally, in palliative care. In the last few years, visits to labour and delivery, and sadly, the psych ward, has broadened my experience.
Nurses were a constant-an ever revolving, steady stream of someone. Starched, strained, tired-I remember faces, but no people. I remember figures-bulbous, brassy, rail thin. But their voices? Rarely.
Some, remember fondly, were a squeeze on the shoulder, a brief hug, a glance. Others, nothing more than a glare, a snip, a yelp in my direction to not go there.
I remember with joy the nurses who let me sneak into the fridge on the palliative ward and take ice creams and ginger ale, brightening the grim visits to my mother.
I cringe and want to break down and cry when reminded of the L&D nurse who hounded and harassed me, pushing me to choices I wouldn’t have normally made. While she focused so intently on her Regal catalogue.
But I remember Lana, the only good soul on the psych ward, who saw past my crazy to the person contained within. She sat and talked with me, while the other nurses spoke in monotone while looking everywhere but at me. She reminded me that anyone could break down as I had, and only I was brave enough to do something about it. She mirrored humanity.
I try and not think of the nurse who prodded and poked and ignored my mother as she cried out and tried her best not to scream while the nurse dug for a vein that was viable. Her face hardly twitched as she told my mother to sit still.
Oddly, for all the time I’ve spent in hospitals, all the horrid memories pulled from there, how dirt in the sink reminds me of being close to death, how the smell of the antiseptic brings forth a smile on my mother’s face, how a cot reminds me of my first birth I want to do this. I want to be this close to death, and life. I want to be the hand that guides and heals, that sustains.
It might be optimistic, and foolish to believe I can make a difference. But I think I can. I think of the nurse for my second birth, who laughed and was stern when needed and helped wash me off after the birth, while I was all jitters and silly energy and fear. She looked me in the eyes as I birthed my daughter, and told me I could do it.
Simple confidence, and a hand on my leg. I’ll remember her forever.
I want to be her. I want to be the nurse who brought my mother extra chairs and let us stay a little later, my hand in her. I want to be the nurse who ran, horrified, into our room a day after Vivian arrived, sweeping her out so we could both, finally, get some much needed sleep. I want to be the nurse in the ER that looked me in my glassy eyes, close to death, or damage, and told me, assured me everything would be fine, that I would be fine.
I want to be the voice you trust. I want to be the voice I would trust.
I should thank them, all of them, for showing me this road. Their kindness has unraveled my future.