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Why I'm a nurse

Patient validates RN's career choice

Monday November 21, 2011
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Being a nurse, you frequently are asked the question, “What made you become a nurse?” My answer always is, “I love being with people, helping them and their families; that’s the kind of person that I am.” They would look at me and just smile.
I first was introduced to Betty last summer when she was admitted to Urban 4 with a small bowel obstruction. As I walked into her room, I felt an instant connection with her. She looked at me with her big brown eyes, grinning from ear to ear, even with her nasogastric tube clamped. Betty was completely obstructed and needed surgery. But because she had chemo a few weeks before, she had to wait some time. As I stood at her bedside pushing barium through her NGT, we really got to know each other. She would tell me about her two boys, how much she loved her grandkids, and all the cross-country adventures she had with Roger, her husband. I would talk about my family, how my parents just moved cross-country to Oregon and about a big family reunion I was planning at my house.
Because Betty was going to be with us for a while, I decided to move her into a private room. At that time, I got to know Roger. He was coming in every day and spending all day with her. He cracked me up with his stories of Betty and him. This pair was a class act, and you could see how much love they shared. It was truly amazing. Betty eventually had her surgery and went to CCU postoperatively.
The day she was transferred back to our unit, I personally went down to CCU to help transport. I was excited to see her, and she gave me the biggest hug and kiss on the cheek. “Robyn, I missed you,” she said with a huge smile. “How was your party?”
I was glad to have her back with me. I would change my assignment just to have her as a patient.
But suddenly, Betty took a turn for the worse. She was having difficulty breathing and needed BiPAP machine. Physicians performed a thoracentesis and made her comfortable. She would be discharged within the next few days. I was going on vacation and was upset to have to leave her. She was sad I was going. We embraced, and I told her I would always be with her. I checked on her while on vacation, and she made it home.
My first day back, I ran into Roger, who told me Betty was about to have surgery to remove more fluid from her lungs. I was able to surprise her in the holding area of the OR and then postoperatively on another unit. She was doing well and was to be discharged soon. Just two days later, Betty was readmitted to PCU.
She was dying and was given a DNR order. She wasn’t going to make it through the night. I ran down to see her. She looked so peaceful, resting comfortably in bed, surrounded by her family and friends. Tears immediately ran down my face as I leaned on Roger for comfort. “You’re all she talked about when she got home. She loved you so much,” Roger said.
He thanked me for all the care I had given his wife while she was with me. I was overwhelmed with sadness, something I had never before experienced with a patient. I whispered in her ear that I was there next to her and gently kissed her cheek.
Betty died just a few hours later. She was at peace.
To me, being a nurse is unlike any other profession. We may get yelled at by our patients and physicians, but the love that we get from patients and the care that we provide outweighs all the rest. This is why I am a nurse. •
Robyn L. Pascale, RN, BSN, is a shift supervisor on 4B at Saint Clares Hospital in Denville, N.J.

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