A few years ago a colleague informed me that my son, Douglas, a student nurse who was working as a nursing assistant, snuck a giant Super Soaker water gun into a young patients room on a med/surg floor. I thought to myself, what is he up to now? He also had arranged a number of empty urinals on the bathtub in the patients room as a makeshift shooting gallery. The child, who had cancer, was hospitalized with shingles. He was in severe pain and had little to no energy.
When I called Doug and asked him what was going on, he said, I was just trying to make him feel normal, have fun, and forget his pain. Dad, he was so weak that I had to prop the Super Soaker on the bed rail. All I could do was laugh. At that moment, I realized my son would make a wonderful nurse. Caring enough to try to bring a little joy and a smile was what he was about. This patient was later a guest at Dougs wedding, and their relationship has been, in Dougs words, indescribable.
Ive always been known as a joker and believe in the power of humor in caring for my patients. Doug inherited these personality traits. Lets face it, we all love to laugh. Laughing is a naturally good feeling that can help patients. And there is something to be said about bringing your child to work. It gave Doug the opportunity to visualize my job. I believe we have to do a better job in explaining to our children what nurses do. And we need to do this at an earlier age. Bringing Doug to work helped him to understand what I did and why I was so committed to my job and proud of it. I wanted to create that motivation in him that I had. It also helped that his mother also was a nurse and she shared many stories as well.
When Doug finally became an RN and transferred to St. Christophers Hospital for Children’s pediatric intensive care unit, I thought, here is a boy who truly followed in his fathers footsteps. I could not have been prouder.When I was younger, my father always came home and talked about his work. He always had a sense of enjoyment about it. Dad was a critical care nurse, who had worked with neonates, children, and adults. I guess he had the greatest influence on my decision to become an RN because he has always spoken so highly of the profession and its challenges. I remember asking him about nursing and the reason he loved it so much. He said, It is one of the only jobs you can have in which you can make a difference and come home with a sense of satisfaction that you did some good in a time of need.
I remember my dad coming home and telling a story about a very young CCU patient who needed a surgeon to crack open his chest and perform cardiac massage right there at the bedside. It was the first time he had witnessed that. Dad told me it was intense, but controlled. The idea of my father actually participating in that resuscitative effort always stuck in my mind. At that moment, I realized what nursing was all about.
I guess, like Dad, the critical-care environment is where I thrive. I remember one day, five minutes into my shift, taking care of a child who had a cardiac arrest. The chaotic activity was controlled, but everyones physical and emotional energy was depleted.
Four months later, that child came back to the hospital for a follow-up visit and was giving me high fives. That is what we are about as nurses, one moment sharing jokes and stories, the next saving a life. You can get an emotional high almost daily. My mom is a nurse, as well. The three of us love our work.
A few months ago, Dad and I were racing a gasoline-powered car and shooting off rockets with the young Super Soaker patient. It was a moment that we could have never appreciated if it werent for this special connection afforded the two of us by being nurses.