So here is the second part of Chapter One.
CHAPTER 1 (Part 2)
Born of Angels
I got excited after reading and editing the first chapter of my book. Writing facts about my life touched me quite a bit. It was like acting on a movie about myself, remaking scenes where I had already been.
As I remember the past and ponder about my brother's story, I understand that nothing happened by chance. He was one of the reasons why I chose Nursing, the motivation to deepen into the art of caring and go beyond the mere knowledge produced by my observation, intuition and senses. I wanted to carve my empirical experience into a scientifically based career.
Now that I am a nurse I like to recall the reason why I took this path. This gives me strength and I no longer have illusions about it. I am living the reality, but that is no reason to stop dreaming. Nursing is part of my life and of my daily routine and a lot of thoughts like these permeate my mind, from the time I wake up to the moment I go to sleep.
Sometimes, when I get to work in the morning, I am unmotivated thinking that it will be one more ordinary day, with papers to fill and lots of problems to solve. Lately, it seems that the routine is swallowing me up, transforming me into a robot. Not that my critical thoughts are gone, but it seems that they are hidden behind so much bureaucracy! There are protocols for everything, even to draft protocols!
I know that my goal is to address my patients' well being, but sometimes I have failed to care for my own well being. I feel like a sand glass, languishing to the end, such is my condition at the end of each day. Maybe I miss motivation, or a better paycheck. But I know deep inside that Nursing is not just a bread winner for me, there is something in this fight that while sucks out strength, offers back purpose, love and life. This trade-off, however, has not been quite balanced lately. I try to compensate writing. I hope this book will work as a therapy.
Last week, during one of my morning shifts at the Pediatric unit, I was notified that there was an admission to be done. Getting ready for the new patient, I thought that probably was just one more case of pneumonia. The winter has been really harsh. The kids spend their day inside daycares infecting one another with the bugs they bring from the outside. The infections are moving as fast as fire.
By the way, the weather is impossibly cold today! Having to face this glacial cold in the morning doesn't please me at all. The mission of waking up early in the morning gets trapped in the blanket, and if it wasn’t for the bigger motivation of a job loss, all the other motivations would be creased against the pillow.
The child I admitted was a boy, called Silvano, about seven years old, coming from a very poor family, and carrying a peculiar case. As I got closer to him, I first tried to observe important details for a complete physical examination. However, looking into his eyes, I saw more than pupils. I saw a request for help, a message that his eyes were trying to communicate. Without words.
The boy was fighting against difficulties of all kinds. Not that his recent infirmity was critical, but besides that he carried chronic physical deformities that had deprived him from his joy of living. When I figured that out, my thoughts were immobilized, not knowing in which direction to run. I could certainly help him with his clinical acute diagnosis, but his physical deficiencies were beyond my scope. A lot of work would be necessary from a specialized team to achieve any further progress.
After the physical examination, I tried to complete the forms; however, my thoughts kept dancing away from the paper before my eyes. I thought that any care that I prescribed was not going to remove his discontentment. It would be a mere palliative action. I longed for something more; I longed to offer that child concrete hopes. To make a difference.
There is nothing more useless than to focus all attention at one paralyzing problem and just feel sorry about it. The solution never arrives. With that in mind, I tried to force my view beyond the problem, beyond the circumstances. Right on the solution.
Grasping the telephone, I called all the contacts that I could find asking for an evaluation, guiding or analysis of that case. I got answers ranging from: “I got a busy schedule right now” to “You can count on me” offering me some hope.
After making the phone calls, I went back to the hospital bed, where Silvano rested immersed under the wrinkled covers. I told his mother, who stood by his side, about the phone calls I had made. She smiled, but her eyes were marooned in tears. I sensed that she was touched by the expectations.
Getting closer I asked: “Are you ok?”, and she answered: “Dear, I had lost hope already with this boy, but I look at you and I know that you will do something for him, aren't you?” “Don’t worry”, I said, “I will do anything within my reach, but promise me you'll never lose hope for anything in this life, because as long there is hope there are possibilities”.
Her face corroded by years of hard working smiled a toothless smile. It was beautiful because it was real.“Thank you, this boy is everything I've got. If he dies, how could I go on without him? Do you understand?" “Perfectly, but let's stay away from negative thoughts and let's focus on this opportunity to get him better.” She nodded and smiled. There wasn't a whole lot that I could do besides bringing her some hope; the specialists could offer a more specific prognosis.
The next day a specialized medical team came by; the case had aroused interest. My phone calls had reached their objective, the doctors seemed to be intrigued. They wanted to unfold such unique case, overcome limits imposed by nature, and arrive to a final conclusion. If successful, they planned to publish the case in a medical journal.
After examining every inch of his body, through different tests, they discussed the information with other specialists. A complex treatment plan was outlined. It would include more tests and follow ups in a specialized medical center and a future corrective surgery. However, they didn’t offer hope of cure or total rehabilitation, just an improvement in his condition. And even so, the news were an elixir to all of Silvano's mom doubts and worries. A light began to shine on the horizon, promising a new beginning. The call for help sent by a boy's look was being provided for. Silvano didn’t hide his contentment. At least, hope was back.
The last night Silvano was at my floor, before being discharged, I went for a visit at his room. “Look”, I said, “I wanted to thank you so much for the privilege of taking care of you, one of my best patients. If you are thinking that I've helped you, you are wrong; you've helped me much more.”
He gave me a proud smile, and spoke with his paused voice: “Thank you for curing me, now I am brand new!” I laughed from his expression and thought: “How is he able to feel brand new if the treatment did not even start?” That was when I looked deep inside his eyes and saw they were shining. They had lost the sadness and apathy. They irradiated life and brightness. At that moment I understood that it wasn’t the body I had helped to heal, but the soul.
That was not the first time I had to face obstacles left by nature. My brother Pedro taught me that some obstacles can be solved. Others, however, I will never overcome, as much as I try. All I can do is to accept them.