Dear Annie: We hear so many accounts of sick relatives dying alone in the hospital and family members feeling helpless and guilty because they can't be by their side, even though it's not their fault. I'm a retired nurse, and I hope I can let these families know that their mom or dad, spouse or loved one is not dying alone if their nurses can help it.
Taking care of these critically ill patients, it's easy to become attached to them, and most nurses are trying to take care of them, treating them as if they were their own parent or loved one. They aren't just giving their patients the best medical care they can possibly give; they try to give as much compassion as possible.
Every nurse I know, or have ever known, seems to have that extra spark that pushes them to take those extra steps to make sure the patient is as comfortable as possible and then some. You see, being a nurse is our chosen profession, but being a nurse isn't just what I do for a living; it is who I am! I have written a poem that I hope makes some family feel a little less helpless.
"A Hand to Hold"
By Patty Palmer
"Lying in a hospital bed there in the ICU
"She tries to calm her fears not knowing what to do.
"The nurse tells her that she's been ill for quite a while.
"She holds her hand while she explains with a kindly smile.
"Wondering where her family is since they aren't there with her
"She calls out but the tube in her throat allows her not a word.
"The kindly nurse explains to her that visitors are not allowed.
"The virus spreading rapidly prevents any size of crowd.
"Feeling so alone as a tear falls down her feverish cheek.
"She's never been this sick before and feeling very weak.
"The nurse takes a warm cloth and gently washes her face
"'Don't worry, I'm here with you and I'm not going anyplace.'
"A soothing bath the nurse gives to her, helps her to relax.
"Keeping up a light banter as she finishes up her tasks.
"Her heart is growing weaker and her color isn't good
"But the nurse goes on acting as normal as she could.
"She brushes her patient's hair and forms it in a braid
"She knows this lady is dying and asks the Lord, let her not be afraid.
"As this ailing patient's life is heading toward the end
"She holds her hand and sings to her, not as a nurse but as a friend.
"The machines show her vital signs are heading for a drop
"And her new friend stays with her until they entirely stop.
"This nurse has done all she could to make the end less cold.
"No patient should have to die alone without a hand to hold.
"She quietly leaves the room with a tear in her eye.
"Nurses are strong but sometimes they still do cry.
"She dries her eyes and blows her nose shaking off her heart.
"Heading toward the next room where again she'll do her part.
"I hope this poem makes some family feel a little less helpless.
"I'm not just a nurse, it's who I am!"
Dear Patty: I am reading this with a tear in my eye. Thank you for sharing your beautiful, compassionate poem, and thank you to all nurses, with their kind smiles, full hearts and strong hands.
"Ask Me Anything: A Year of Advice From Dear Annie" is out now! Annie Lane's debut book — featuring favorite columns on love, friendship, family and etiquette — is available as a paperback and e-book. Visit http://www.creatorspublishing.com for more information. Send your questions for Annie Lane to [email protected]
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