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How a nurse's care touched my heart

September 26, 2011

By Kyle Bow, MD, Pediatric Resident

As hospital residents, our days are long and grueling. We eat standing up, wish the people in front of us would get out of the way and struggle to recall the last time we slept in our own beds.   Our lives are constantly rushed, and it seems never-ending; patients simply never stop coming.  We blink our eyes and somehow another few months have passed us by. Occasionally, though, a moment comes along and stops our worlds from spinning. Time stands still, and we remember why we do what we do.  I recently had such an experience.

I was the resident on call for our pediatric special care unit. It had been an unusually quiet evening when I realized that the parents of a chronically ill child on our unit had been absent for the last few days.  I took the opportunity to go in and see him.  He was a cute little bundle, but was encumbered with multiple IV lines and a cast on his left hip and upper thigh.  I was determined to hold him, to assure him that he was not alone.  His nurse, noticing my inquisitive look joked, “Would you like to feed him?”  I’m certain she didn’t expect me to say yes, but that’s exactly what I did.

As she prepared the bottle, I gently uncovered him and carefully situated his IV lines before placing him in my lap.  It was slightly awkward.  His cast did not allow for any reasonably comfortable position, and little foam pillows had to be placed in several spots to keep him situated.  The nurse brought me his bottle. With one hand she removed his pacifier, and with the other she placed the bottle into his mouth.  I thought, “It’s amazing how easy she makes all of this look. I walk into the room and the kid starts to cry; she takes his pacifier away, and he doesn’t even make a peep.”  She nudged me to take the bottle, and I was able to enjoy providing this child with his most basic need. And in doing so, I bonded with this little baby.

After he was finished with the bottle, I spent the next 20 minutes just holding him, enjoying him.  And wouldn’t you know it, he pooped on me!  Oh, what a mess!  His nurse came in, and she helped me place the child and all of his constraints on the bed.  Noticing my frustration, she couldn’t help but smile. But, I wasn’t going to leave her with such a mess. The least I could do was help.

I held his legs while she cleaned him with a cloth; the gentleness and care that she showed while doing such an unpleasant task was amazing.  It was evident that she cared deeply about this child: how he was treated, how he felt, if he was comfortable.  I watched closely as each touch of her hand showed her love for him.  I was moved, and I left in awe of my experience with this baby and his nurse.

I want to thank this nurse, and many others just like her, for showing me the beauty of caring for children.  Even if I don’t often slow down enough to enjoy the simple moments such as this, I am so grateful for the special people who care for children this way. They give love to those most in need. And it reminds me why I keep coming back day after day.