December 27 -Ordinary joy. Our most profound joy is often experienced during ordinary moments. What was one of your most joyful ordinary moments this year?
Nursing brings me more joy than I had thought. Yes, it is messy and complicated and patients can be infernally frustrating, but I still feel that it is such a privilege to be able to care for people when they are at their most vulnerable. The best moments in nursing for me aren’t in the critical moments when I’m making tough decisions about patient care or trying to keep a patient from the brink of medical disaster. The best moments for me come when I’m taking a patient history, helping someone with their medication, rocking a scared child. I feel joy when I know a connection has been made between myself and a patient. Despite the fact that nursing is such an intimate profession, it’s not very common to make a profound connection with patients because there is just so much to do in a shift. Most of my time is usually focused on just maintaining the status quo. Sometimes, though, I recognize a kindred spirit, or someone opens themselves up enough to trust in my care, or I get a “thank you” and that sustains me.
My mot joyful ordinary moment this year occurred during the days I got to care for infant A. at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. He arrived on our unit at about 9 days of age – so new to the world. I took such delight in seeing him grow and achieve developmental milestones over the months that I cared for him that the other nurses teased me. There is just something so magical about seeing a human being develop that it is hard not to be mystified. I knew that I wasn’t his mother but I felt such elation the first time he made purposeful eye-contact with me. I enjoyed being his cheerleader – encouraging him during feedings, quieting him after procedures, updating the medical team on his progress. I never once saw or met his parents in the 14 weeks I was on that unit. Their absence – complicated reasons I won’t go into – ignited a little fire within me that kept my anger on a low boil for weeks. I eventually got tired of wondering who these individuals were and speculating about their parenting abilities. Instead I focused on providing A. with lots of positive energy in the time I could give him. Just because I wasn’t his mother didn’t mean that I couldn’t love him in a way, too. My nursing care improved when I focused on communicating to this little babe that he was loved and cared for and going to do just fine in the world. Once I let go of the anger, I found there was certainly a whole lot more room for the joy.