As a nurse, I spend most of my waking hours being with vulnerability, and oftentimes with sadness. I see patients “battle on” against some giant invisible force, then surrender to its will in varying degrees. I see some that come out the other end healed of their malaise, and some swallowed by it.
Illness is a loss that leaves the chatter of our otherwise self invested and self seeking minds, with more questions than answers. It often seems to be a call to stop and reflect. It can even be an invitation to know ourselves deeper. It is however, always a call to courage.
My patients, anxious, frightened or completely unaware of the plight that has befallen them, are heroes, and teachers both. They teach me what it means to live and to love. Essential lessons, beautifully taught at the holy grail of suffering.
Sadness is not new to me. I have lived most of my life feeling sad at being“othered”. A bit like my patients, rudely “othered” from a normal life. Most patients ask the one question, I have often found asking myself “Why me?”, “Why cant I live a normal life”.
And yet, it is in the midst of sharing the space with their suffering as a nurse, that I have been brought some real gems of wisdom, to answer these questions. I nurse a patient with brain lesions, fast losing her ability to speak coherently. She answered “Why me” poignantly “Because me can wait, and can bear….I can wait wait wait, bear bear bear. That’s how I know I am stronger than this illness” On the next bay, another patient added “What’s the point of expecting anything? My father taught me you can change nobody. Accept them if you can. If not, let them go their way.”
Sounds simple, but something I am learning to grow into and integrate more and more. Like my patients, I have known illness and loss intimately. I go through months feeling like I am walking in endless rain. Sunshine peeks in every now and then, and then the rain resumes. I am reminded of what a middle aged patient dying of cancer once said to me “change only what you can my dear….let the rest flow its course”.
I have the privilege of being a part of a family, where my being is an “outsider”, an “other”, an asylum seeker whose needs no one understands and cannot find the time nor sensitivity to support. Like my fellow brothers and sisters who have known illness, depression and loss, I am often reminded of my status as the “other” in a world where acceptability is a direct function of robust physical and financial health.
And then I return to work, to my patients, and keep learning what it is to live and to love. As one patient taught me “To love is simply to give, give and give more, and be fulfilled therefrom”, And to live “is to learn to differentiate between price and value”.
The most beautiful people I have met, have all been scarred. They have known struggle, defeat, suffering and loss. It is these depths that bring them the wisdom of sensitivity, a deep loving concern. Beautiful people don’t just happen.
This is from me to you, the beautiful person reading this…
A Moodscope member.