It was just a day on the unit. A patient struggling with what might be simply seen as the congestive challenges of the season. A person in a room with a diagnosis and a code that goes with it. Lights and tubes and monitors and meds and orders.
During routine rounds the patient had an asthma attack. For her it happens too often, but never less scary. The pressure in the chest, the reach for breath, the mild panic. There is only so much that can be done in those moments. Michele was there and helped to administer the prescribed anticholinergic bronchodilators. She then sat down at the patient’s bedside and took her hand. “I will not leave your side,” she said.
I will not leave your side.
Healing and care is helped along by the medications and machines. The therapies and treatments are the stuff of the wonderful science of medicine. And they are so often miraculous. But since the dawn of nursing, nothing replaces the empathic connection between caregiver and those cared for and cared about. A hand held. A cool cloth wiped gently across the forehead. Calming words of encouragement. Presence.
This is the kind of thing that happens every day and every hour and every minute in the world of nursing. It is seldom captured in the audits and doesn’t command many hours in the required CME training. But they are the moments that change lives forever.
The patient’s breathing returned to normal. A deep inhale and a cleansing release. Her grip lessened from a tense fear to a friendly embrace. And a grateful smile appeared. Michele offered a fond farewell and a promise to return soon. She smiled and exited the room only to enter another to find what challenges and hopes and needs would greet her there.
In all these years of working with and serving as an advocate and cheerleader for the profession that is nursing, I am daily amazed and astonishingly grateful for those who choose to learn the science of medicine and then beautifully apply the art of caring.
The words, “I will not leave your side” are the very expression of the best of this incredible profession and these extraordinary humans.
To be with you in this journey is the greatest work on the planet.