Tuesday, August 5, 2008

The Coolest Gift



I belong to a group of nurses who knit on Ravelry.  There is a question on that group that asks "what's the coolest work gift you've received?"  It's really a question of what is the best gift an employer has given but I interpret that question a bit differently.

When I'm treating an older patient, I ask many questions that aren't medical in the least.  I want to know what they did when they were young.  I'll ask what they did for a living.  I'll ask if they served in the war.  I'll ask about their families.  People want to talk and work their lives out.  Often, the end is approaching and they're questioning their value on earth; asking these questions allows them to talk about it and work things through.  I do hang around for the answers.  It helps that I'm truly interested and incredibly nosy.  I can't help it, people fascinate me.

I had one such patient in end stage heart failure about four years ago.  He was so sick and although I don't know what happened to him, I'm quite certain he isn't with us anymore.  His heart failure was so severe, I don't see how he would have lived more than six months from the time I met him.  I'd been pulled to another unit for the day.  One where people aren't on life support and therefore, they're able to talk.  I asked my patient if he'd served in WWII and his face lit up.  My patient had been a flyboy in the war and had served in the Pacific theater.  I'd just read James Bradley's newly released book, Flyboys: A True Story of Courage.  Although the book didn't make me an expert,  I knew a bit about these men and their service.  My patient was thrilled to talk about his life as a flyboy.  He was proud of this time he'd given to his country.  We spent a long time talking. 

A few weeks later, I received a package at work.  It was from my Flyboy.  There was a letter that was quite lengthy in which he thanked me for taking such good care of him.  There was  a video copy of a documentary about flyboys and he was featured in the documentary.  What an amazing life this man had lead!  He included a photo of himself, his fellow servicemen and a plane.  They were so handsome in that picture.

I think about this man every once in awhile.  On occasion, I come across the package he sent to me.  He was a gift that was sent my way by my employer.  I don't need anything extra for doing my job.  Placing me in the right place, at the right time, is gift enough.

5 comments:

laurie said...

that's a wonderful story. it feels so good to know you've made an impression and helped someone with your work.

Brenda said...

Rudee,
Thanks for sharing this story! This brought tears to my eyes, for some reason. My Dad was a medic in World War II. Most World War II survivors did not want to talk about the war. What a nice story about how just taking an interest in another human being can be so rewarding for so many people. It has that ripple down effect, by you sharing the story with others. Thanks!

Rudee said...

Thanks laurie and Brenda. He was an interesting man. I get a few cards over the course of a year from patients. This letter and video were very special to me.

Sandy said...

What a great story, I enjoyed reading it. You're in quite a special profession. I have two DIL that are working towards their RN...

Rudee said...

It's a great career with plenty of different opportunities to explore Sandy. I'm glad people are still going into nursing. It's worrisome with a shortage! Who'll take care of me when I need a nurse?