A Letter to my Patient

I know you don’t know me, how could you, we met while you were unconscious, so there’s not much to go on except for what I see and hear as I go in and out of your room. I catch bits and pieces of you from your family’s conversations, their obvious grief and concern over your well-being.   I am a complete stranger as far as your concerned, yet here I am caring for you in the most intimate way. Would you be embarrassed, annoyed…would you care at all? Can you hear me? Can you feel my touch?

Compassion

     As you lie there, I am like the ultimate puppeteer. Your tubes are my strings, and I carefully operate medicine, oxygen, and nutrition through the plastic lines running into your body all in a careful balance to bring you back to life. We spend twelve hours together, but you will never know me; even if you open your eyes, you will never remember me. I however, will always remember you. I take you home with me. I think about you in quiet moments. “Will you get better? Will you wake up?”

I have such a long list of things to do for you today. Your medication list is growing. You have an infection. Your lungs don’t look good. I must keep you asleep for another day to let you rest while your ventilator will continue to help you breathe. Your family is so nice.

I learned something about you today, and it made me laugh. Your friend stopped by. He was obviously distraught over your condition; he wanted to talk about you. I was so busy, but I stopped to listen to his stories. He told me you two were good friends, but that was obvious, then he told me you two smoked meat together. I was thinking “What??”   He said you had a smoke house, and liked to smoke meat. I laughed out loud. Not because I was making fun of you, but in all my years I don’t think I ever met anyone with a hobby of smoking meat. I was intrigued, and amused all at the same time. I’m glad I stopped to talk to your friend. He misses you in the smoke house. He’s a nice guy, which makes me think you must be too. Now I really want you wake up. Your family is nice, your friend is nice, you are surrounded by good people.

Deep down though I know you are probably too sick to wake up. Your infection is worse, and your body is dying. I’m losing control of the strings. I’m sad to see you go. You will never know me; you will never remember me…I will always remember you.

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9 thoughts on “A Letter to my Patient

  1. This is lovely. How wonderful that you took the time to learn about the patient as a person. Makes the job more emotionally challenging but also much more rewarding.

    • Nursing is a rewarding job…most of the time lol. I’m sure being a doctor is equally as rewarding. When you get down to it, we just want to help people; our professions are unique in the way we get to do that, and it provides us with a lifetime of stories and memories.

    • Thank you so very much!! Nursing is a definitely a calling, as I get “older” I feel my impact more. Maybe because I can start imaging myself in my patients shoes. It’s hard to do that when you’re 20, and your patient is 70, but at 44…lol, let’s just say empathy is an evolutionary process.

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