We have so much to be thankful for, and often we forget that. My patient opened my eyes to what I’ve been missing.
Last November I was let go from my non-nursing job. Eager for work, I found an agency online and applied. They called me immediately about a case they had available. It sounded like a great case, but I never went in for my interview. I ended up leaving the country for a week, and then I got wrapped up in the holiday season. Once things settled after the new year, I again applied with this agency. This time I went in for an interview. The case they described was the exact one they wanted to put me on months before. Now, I’m believe everything happens for a reason. Seeing as how I was offered the same position twice, I accepted immediately. I knew there had to be a reason I was on this case.
I was assigned to Asher*. A sweet little boy with a seizure disorder, spina bifida and Arnold Chiari malformation. I was very nervous when I went to meet him for the first time. I’ve cared for kids before, but not kids with diagnosis’ like this. In fact, the agency even told me that this was one of their more difficult cases. I was intimidated to say the least. G-tubes, trachs, continuous O2, seizure precautions, and disease processes all had me scared out of my mind. The only thing that didn’t keep me from bolting out the door was the fact that I was offered this case twice. I gave myself a good pep talk, and headed to Asher’s house. When I walked into the room, I saw Asher, sitting in his bed, big smile on his face. He seemed like a happy child, which help ease my worries with this case. After my first shift, I started relaxing a bit. Maybe it wouldn’t be so bad after all.
My first few months were rough. Adapting to the equipment, environment and schedule proved more difficult that I imagined. But the one thing that kept me coming back was Asher. Every time I’d start my shift, his whole face would light up. He’d tell me about his day, laugh at my silly jokes and always wanted me to be near to him. The only time he would cry was when he didn’t get his way. I began to love work. When my friends and family would ask me about Asher, I’d tell them the basics (after all, I am bound by HIPPA). Everyone always had the same reaction, “Oh, that poor boy. Life must me miserable for him”. At first, when I started getting these reactions, I was confused. I had told them with a smile on my face and joy in my voice, how did they get ‘miserable’ out of that? I started asking them why they thought these things. The typical answers were about poor quality of life, not being able to do things other kids his age could do, ect. It disappointed me to hear such things. I had a completely different outlook on Asher’s situation. Thats when I realized how much Asher had taught me about life.
Lesson #1: Physical touch is important. Being near another human being and feeling their presence is a wonderful thing. Asher always was holding my hand and giving me hugs. He was showing me love, and I was showing him the same. Sometimes if Asher was having a bad night, all I had to do to fix it was rub his head, or play with his hair. After I realized the importance of physical contact, I began evaluating my own life. I realized I always felt better when I had physical contact of some kind with a friend or family member.
Lesson #2: Happiness is what you make it. Joy and contentment are a state of mind. Asher is a happy boy. He’s not upset or bitter about all the things he can’t do. He loves his life, and he loves sharing it with others. Every month he gets to go into his 4th grade classroom. This last month he answered all the questions the kids had for him all by himself. He loved every second of it. When I came in to work that night, he spent a significant amount of time telling me all about it with a huge smile on his face. His amazing outlook on life makes his quality of life better than most people I know.
Lesson #3: What I did by deciding to stay on my case wasn’t just good for Asher, it was good for the family as well. Taking care of Asher is a full time job, and they were without weekend night help for quite some time. By accepting and staying on this assignment, I was a blessing to the parents. They never stop showing me their appreciation. Not only am I making a difference in one life, but others as well. As nurses, we never know who can be affected by our actions, positive or negative. This case has been a great reminder to me that we affect all we come in contact with.
This case has provided me with a new outlook on life. I am thankful for all I have, and for every person who invests into me. Asher showed me just how great life can be. Like the saying goes… if life gives you lemons, make lemonade.
*Name changed for privacy purposes.