Seven years ago I lost the most monumental person in my life. My grandfather was a man who inspired me on every level possible and made me realize at a very young age the power of human relationships. My grandfather was an old-fashioned Italian and didn’t believe in going to the hospital because of the possibility of exposing weakness, so when he began to experience the cardinal signs of colon cancer he didn’t receive the proper medical attention until the cancer had spread.
That part of my life was a blur; one of the only aspects I can remember was the hospice nurses and their incredible courage and passion-filled care for both my grandfather and my family.
The hospice nurses, along with my grandfather, are the reason why I am currently a nurse. I went on to become a patient care assistant, on the thoracic step-down unit at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, during nursing school and it is during this experience that I had my first patient interaction that changed my life.
I’ll never forget this patient who I will call Joe. I connected with him in a way that I had never experienced with another human being before. He put his trust in me as I put my trust in him and I quickly realized the power that we both held. I held the power to help him along his road to recovery (mentally, physically and emotionally) and he held the power to help shape me, mold me and give my life meaning. It was one of the most beautiful moments I’ve ever experienced in my entire life.
I held my grandfather’s hand when he passed away a few weeks before I found out that I was valedictorian of my high school class. I was too young to have participated in his care, to fight for information when provided updates by the MDs at the hospitals.
I feel like nursing is my chance to fight for my grandfather and BWH and their commitment to extraordinary patient care has given me that opportunity. To care for every patient as I would have cared for him if given the chance. For me, it was a profession to go into to really live my life to its fullest potential. As a nurse I knew I would see the moments in between the moments. A privilege to see the shared glances at a loved one when the other was looking away. Of loved ones gaining perspective of another day while in the sterile walls of a hospital room, and swearing to themselves to appreciate the same moments once they returned home. To watch people get the chances I missed, and to make those moments of sadness and realization easier for those in pain.
Nursing has stirred my soul and uplifted me in a way nothing ever has; it has given me a feeling of belonging. A feeling of belonging to one of the most trusted professions at one of the most trusted hospitals and I truly can’t ask for anything more out of life than that.
This year I’m running in the Boston Marathon in remembrance of patients that have received lung transplants and for those who continue to wait for that life-giving breakthrough. It has been an honor to work with these patients and their families through their journey to transplant alongside the phenomenal staff at BWH.
The tragedy that took place in the 2013 Boston Marathon left our city with fear and scars, but I will channel the fearlessness and bravery that I witnessed my patients embody during their transplant journey at BWH and run with my whole heart and soul. Here’s to BWH, a hospital that is truly BOSTON STRONG!
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