Close Encounters

I ran across the first patient I ever had as a Registered Nurse today. He and his wife happened to be grocery shopping at the same store I was at (a store I had never been to before). I did a double take before I recognized them.

No idea if they saw me, and if they did, whether they recognized me. It would have certainly been inappropriate for me to go up to them and start chatting them up.

But it felt good to see someone who had been very ill a few short weeks ago doing something as normal as grocery shopping with his wife. Whether or not they recognized me was not the point. The point was that he was up and about and living his life. And I got to witness that from afar and know that we helped get him there.

Critical care nursing has proven to be frustrating so far. The acuity of my patients, the knowledge that I am addressing a single problem among many others, the resignation that my status as a brand new nurse has me rushing about and trying to figure out the technical skills at the expense of the interpersonal ones…it’s discouraging that the learning curve is so steep and the patients so sick that I wonder if I will ever feel like I know what I am doing.

But that single patient sighting today provided some much-needed inspiration. Whatever insignificant role I might have played in his recovery, he did recover and and I was involved to some degree. So that makes this overwhelming whirlwind worth it in the end.

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