I have always been the caregiver. Ever since I can remember, even as a child I chose to be the care giver in every relationship. I was comfortable in that role. I was good in that role. I found the role satisfying, and rewarding.
I was born with asthma. My frequent hospital admissions allowed me to get to know the staff and the other patients quite well. Watching the nurses do their job, was one of my pass-times. I would watch them interact with each other, the doctors, and the patients. Next I started comparing each nurse to the other, silently critiquing them. I would observe how they treated the other patients, and the reaction or result obtained. From that I would think about the more desirable situation, sometimes even to the point of wondering what might work better. I remember, even as a child being uncomfortable with how disrespectful communication between either nurse/doctor or nurse/patient would result in less desirable responses. As you are reading this you may be thinking this is a peculiar activity for a child. Maybe it is, but it was me. That is just what I did. Action plus action equals reaction equals effect.
The more I did this, the more detail I was looking for. One of the specific interactions I would observe was with a patient named Brian. He was born with a “water head” is what I was told. Later I learned more about the congenital anomaly hydrocephalus, but at the time all I knew was that he had extra water in his head. He spent all of his time in one of those large metal cribs, mostly laying on his left side. He would make noises, no words. Brian was about the size of a four-year old child, but he was a teenager. I watched for a very long time, before I came to my conclusions. My conclusions were, Brian needed more attention, Brian needed to be taught, Brian needed to be moved around, Brian needed….more. I started to ask the nurses questions. I made some requests, and they did not take a liking to a child asking them to do things for Brian. After some pondering on the topic, I decided it was up to me.
My Mom tells me I was about four years old when I started taking action with Brian. It started with visits. I would talk to him, and ask him to say my name repeatedly. My memory does not leave me with a time sense of how long this took, only that when he was able to say my name, I knew that I was on the right path. Wow, that made me more determined than ever. Look out, Brian created a caregiver monster! Next I taught him to laugh, and say “hello”. As I became more attached, I felt it was my job to insist that he be moved around. His head was flattened on the side that was usually down to the mattress, his jaw as well. This bothered me. I remember the nurses not being happy with me insisting on moving Brian, but that did not bother me. I was on a mission. It became a routine that Brian was up for a period of time each day.
My main reason for describing some of the details of my time with Brian is while I was spending time with Brian or pestering the nurses about Brian, I forgot about how much I missed my family and friends. I forgot about the time and how slow it goes when you are in the hospital. I forgot that I was having trouble breathing. When I was the sickest in the beginning of each admission, incarcerated in the croup tent, I would will myself to get better so that I could get to Brian. I would think about breathing easy, because I knew that meant freedom earned. I loved how I felt when I was “caring” for Brian. In my little world, I really believed that I was making a difference for Brian. His eyes lit up when I approached him, that was all I needed.
It seemed an easy and obvious decision to become a nurse. My Mom tells me that I told everyone I was going to be a nurse during this time. I always remember that as my plan. I always have a plan, big or small, there is always a plan.
Once I started working as a registered nurse I knew it was the right choice for me. I loved it so much, it did not seem like a job to me, it was exhilarating. The more I did, the more I wanted to do. There really was not enough hours in a day, to do what I wanted to do. Nurturing is empowering for me. ♥
The other reason for my telling this possibly silly story is, since my car accident I have been trying to balance my nurturing others with my own need to minimize my physical activity, since that is the only way that I can attempt to keep my pain at a tolerable level. In my prioritizing it keeps making sense to stop helping others but it feels so unnatural to me, and it is my “nurturing others” that I am able to leave my own challenges in the dark and focus on something else. Tough choices! Compromise my balance to maintain my balance!!
I receive a great deal of feedback from people around me, telling me to ask for help or not to do so much for others. Many times I have re-evaluated my personal approach to life and I always come up with the same plan. It feels right for me to accept people for who they are and help those in need, to my abilities. Of course I prioritize, my children come first, then everyone else. I use the nursing process in my daily life. Assess, plan, implement, re-evaluate…assess, plan, implement, re-evaluate..etc. It might sound silly but try it-it works for everything, every situation!
The pictures are of my daughter’s hand, I thought they symbolized my theme as our heart can be expressed through our helping hands! :)