I remember a patient I had once. He was one of those patients you can never forget. It wasn’t because he had anything medically crazy or abnormal for me to remember him by. He wasn’t squirting blood out of an artery or turning blue while I cared for him.
No, he had a straight-forward heart attack. He had a stent placed to repair the blockage and he was going to be just fine…medically, at least.
I’ll never forget how pitiful and incredibly sad he was. He was in his 70s and told me that he had 5 children, and a number of grandchildren, all local. Yet for his entire hospital stay (just a couple days), not a single person came to visit him.
My heart broke for him as he laid in the bed looking out the window.
I never had enough time to spend with him–it’s simply too busy on a cardiac unit to be able to sit down and talk with patients about much beyond essential medical matters.
So instead, I stayed late on my last shift that week. It was the day he would get to go home and he was still sad that no one had come to see him. As he had told me before, he told me yet again, “I told them I had a heart attack and that I was here..”
So I sat next to his bed and talked to him. He reached for my hand and held it. It seemed to be just what he needed as we talked and my heart broke even more.
I had already stayed almost an hour past my shift and his breakfast was arriving. I told him I really had to leave so his day could get started and he could go home.
He looked at me with the saddest, most adorable old man puppy eyes and he cried.
He cried……. There is nothing that affects me more than to see a strong man cry so sincerely. He said he understood I had to go but he wished I could stay. He said I was so good to him. What he didn’t realize was that he made it incredibly easy to be nice to him.
I had to break myself away, and it was one of the hardest things I’ve had to do. I think I’d rather hold pressure on a bleeding artery for an hour rather than leave a patient like him.
He wiped his tears and insisted on a hug. So I had to give him one because you cannot imagine how pitiful he looked, and the sneaky old booger planted one on my cheek. For a patient like him who wasn’t being creepy, I guess I didn’t mind.
He is the reason I became a nurse. Being able to heal the body and then at least soothe a hurting heart and be the hand to hold…that’s all I want to be able to do.
Patients like him are the reason I now have a job again. I thank the LORD that He has given me the desire and the ability to care for these patients, both body and soul. I just pray for extra strength to get through the heart-breaking times with patients like that little old man.
Hurting hearts are harder to fix than heart attacks, but I will sure do my best to be the kind and patient nurse who makes it all at least a little bit easier. May God help me do so every shift.