‘cuz my mama taught me better than that

wednesday was my last day of clinicals and i have to say, when i woke up at 5:30 that morning, i was not sure how i was going to make it through the day. between last saturday and that day, i must have gotten an average of two to three hours of sleep per night, and i definitely do not function well when i have not gotten my usual eight hours. given my emotional state from the previous evening and knowing that my patient for the day had just received devastating news regarding his health/disease process the day before, i was preparing myself for the saddest clinical day yet. but i had to go–this is what i signed up for.

i arrived early and when my clinical instructor arrived, i warned her of the possibility of me breaking down some time during the day. she said i can go home but i told her that i would not have the time to write a paper to make-up for missing a clinical day. i expressed my concern about caring for a patient who would possibly be in the lowest spirits while i am not at my best and she offered for me to switch patients. but i committed to being his nurse, knowing that he would be in this state on the day i would work with him. there was no question, i had to try to make it through the day if not for myself but for him, who was much more vulnerable and fragile than i could ever feel that day. i got permission to skip the morning’s group meeting and headed up to the floor, afraid to face the day.

but i could not have predicted what was in store for me.

i asked the night nurse how the patient was handling the news and she said he was fine, considering the circumstances. this seemed promising. i went into his room to let him know i was here and if he needed anything. it was 6:30 in the morning and he appeared more melancholic than when i had met him exactly 24 hours prior. he shared his bad news with me, not knowing that i was briefed about his condition even before i met him. strangely enough, he was still in higher spirits than any other patient i had had this semester. it made me want to work that much harder for him.

when i met my nurse, i figured i would be stuck with another one who did not care for passing on any wisdom and generally felt that student nurses just got in her way but i was wrong. she guided me that morning and entrusted me with responsibilities i had always been ready for but was never given by any of the other nurses. not only did i have my patient relying on me but my nurse actually believed in me and it motivated me that much more.

throughout the morning, my patient and his family were laughing and joking. i was surprised and inspired. for these people to be there, enjoying the day, perhaps more than any other day, was a scene i was lucky to have seen. i escorted my patient and his wife for a procedure and while i felt their anxiety, i also felt their determination to fight. at the same time, they didn’t treat me as a worker or a servant. they talked to me as a person.

the most touching conversation i had was with my patient when his wife had stepped out to make some calls. he began to reminisce about his life growing up, his father, his old job and friends, his dogs and his granddaughter. he confessed that he was afraid and that he had not gotten any sleep. aside from the feeling of pride that i had chosen those exact two nursing diagnoses for my care plan for him, i felt an immense amount of privilege to have been here with him and his family on this very day. i sat there and offered what i could say but mostly, i listened because i knew the comfort of having somebody there just listen while you let your emotions spill from your chest, through your lips and into somebody’s ears.

as a student nurse, i could not provide much for him in terms of caring for his health at that point. but as a person, i could provide friendship.

the rest of my clinical day with my patient carried on with one goal in my mind: to provide whatever i could, little as it may, not to my patient but for this man. he was a person too. and at the very core, that is what nursing is all about–touching people’s lives when they are at their worst and in turn, being touched by them and their circumstances. it is the human element. i am never going to look at this career as one-sided; i get something out of this too. every day, with every person, will give me humanity.

(that day, the doctor said that my patient did not have a recurrence of his disease but he would need to conduct a biopsy to be sure. i hope it works out for him and his family)

i guess i was wrong

in 2005, when i decided to be an advertising major and minor in studio arts, regardless of what my parents would say, it happened. and guess what, they were ok with it.

in 2006, when i decided that i was going to make vast contributions to aaf at uh, it happened.

when i decided that i was going to get over my anxiety and visit my family in the philippines after 8 years, it happened. and i did it by myself.

when i decided that i was going to get an internship after three months of post-college sulking and brooding, within 2 weeks, it happened.

when i decided that i was going to get a job after my internship, two days before the end of my internship, it happened.

when i decided that i was going to make straight As in my first semester back to school (including anatomy and physiology), it happened.

when i decided that i was going to make an outstanding gpa this past year, 10 As and 1 B later, it happened.

when i decided that i was going to make it into TWU’s nursing program, as of last friday, it happened.

you get the point. when i set my mind on something, it just pretty much becomes a matter of “when” and not a matter of “if.” especially after my experiences with my awesome boss, i’ve come to realize that while there are still things beyond my circle of influence and control, i have more input into my own success than i originally thought. this is why, when i reluctantly entered into a relationship months ago, that i thought i was going to succeed.

“it’s going to be tough. it’s going to be difficult. i’m going to cry a lot but i’m going to persevere,” i thought.

what i failed to realize about relationships is that unlike my previous feats, a complete half of my success rested solely on the hands of another person. my best is only as good as his best. it doesn’t matter if i studied harder, pushed harder, worked harder. if he’s slacking, then i’m slacking. it’s a whole the-chain-is-only-as-strong-as-its-weakest-link thing.

(not to say that he’s a weak link. i’m not calling anyone out. for his part, i’m sure he believed that he tried.)

i was foolish to think it was going to happen though. how naive was i to think that i was just going to get in there and kick butt when half of the couples in the country can’t make it work? is this hubris? am i simply dragging around a dead thing behind me, blinded by my past successes?

so now i’m 6 months in, completely in love (foolishly) and thinking “i can still make this work.” as much as i want to believe that i can, not for the sake of it, but simply because i love him, there is very little in me that tells me it will work, much less thrive. we both have too many things going on right now and while i have confidence in my ability to balance it, albeit being totally emotional and girly at the same time, there’s no way for me to know that he can… or that he wants to.

what i do know is this: i start nursing school in the spring and i don’t care what they put in front of me, i’m kicking butt and rocking out for the next two years.