I see you: A nurse’s tale



He lays in the hospital bed stiffly on his back, oxygen tubing in his nose. Hands disfigured by rheumtoid arthritis. The stubbly grey whiskers and awkward stiff positioning on the pillows under his head shout “I’m old! I’m so weak! I hurt so bad!”. My heart goes out to this man as I think to myself: “Who are you? Really. When you were young did you like to run full out to the edge of a cliff skidding to an abrupt halt just because you could, stopping your mommy’s heart in the process? Were you the class clown or the genius in the front row dying to be called on? Did you earn medals and awards or rise to the top in your profession commanding great respect and approval of your peers and those you managed?” These are just a few of the thoughts that race through my mind as I enter the room. This man, actually, is but a few years older than me but the doctor says his heart would not stand a surgical procedure. If he had surgery there is a 40% chance he would not survive. If he survived there is a 60% chance he would never be the same. His heart might not tolerate the sedation we would normally use for this test. I propose, knowing many do this same test without sedation around the world, that a simple topical numbing of the gag reflex be used and we get him through it. Rodney (not his real name), agreed. Silently I prayed “Jesus, take care of Rodney in this test. Keep him safe.”. I say to Rodney “I’ve prayed for you Rodney. You have to help me answer God’s prayer by doing everything we ask you to do.”. Rodney was in a lot of pain. I didn’t want to move him much but he needed to swallow to get the tube down his throat. On his back with his neck arched stiffly the pillows would not provide the support Rodney needed to bring his chin down. Maneuvering around the siderail to the head of the bed I moved the pillow aside cupping Rodney’s head in my hand. “You can do this Rodney. Just breathe. We’re almost done, Rodney. You are so great. You are Awesome and amazing Rodney! Hang in there, Rodney, we’ll be taking the tube out in a minute. Just focus on breathing.”. The tube was taken out and congratulations and thanks spread out wholeheartedly to all that participated in the study by the cardiologist when I turned to Rodney and said “Thank you Rodney for helping to answer my prayer.” With wit Rodney responded “I was praying along those lines too.”

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