He was crying. He tried to form words but he was a mess. He didn’t know if he should stay or go. He apologized for it all. For his anger, for his indecision, for his pain, for his tears.
As I talked to my patient’s husband — only one thought came through — “Oh to be loved like that…” Because Love literally poured out of the man for his wife. Along with every other emotion he owned.
I talked him down off The Ledge because that is my Super Power. I am The Nurse. We formed a plan. I got through the basics and sorted him and the patient out — she was actually coping pretty damn well. I told them I would leave my work cell on — in case they needed me tonight. Let’s be clear — I. NEVER. LEAVE. MY. WORK. CELL. ON.
Except when I do.
For the ones who really need me. Not just any nurse. But Me specifically.
In My Life — I have been all sorts of nurses. Floor Nurse, ICU Nurse, PACU Nurse, Home Health Nurse, OR Nurse, Transplant Co-ordinator — and now I’m an Oncology Nurse Navigator. I get patients and their people through the journey which is a cancer diagnosis. One way or the other.
In the past eight months since I’ve been doing this J.O.B. — I’ve come to discover a lot about myself.
The OR Nurse Persona Mask I wore for much of my career doesn’t fit so well these days. I found I am really good at talking to patients. Not just the ones under general anesthesia. Perhaps a bit of it is the Take No Prisoners/I’ve Got This Covered OR Nurse Attitude. Everyone trusts someone who looks like they know what the hell they’re doing. But I’m finding I’m really kinda stellar at interacting/helping/caring for Humans.
It dawned on me a while back when I helped one of our admin folks soothe a nervous patient and get her sorted out with all she needed — I was pretty damn good at talking people down. From their Respective Ledges. And in My New World — there are a fuck of a lot of Ledges.
Every where you turn.
People who work in oncology for a long time are not here for The Big Win. We are like a small child walking on the beach throwing starfish back into the ocean. It is a daunting task and over all — does what you do even matter in the grand scheme of things? Do you make a difference?
When you look at the starfish you cradle in your hand and you gently toss it back — all you can know is this — yes, you did — for THAT starfish you made a difference.
So tonight — For THAT husband — my work cell is on. Just in case. Because he needs someone to make a difference for him, for his wife. While they are on The Ledge.