Being Afraid

When I was a child we went to a store in Toronto called Honest Ed’s, I remember the trip well because while we were there my grandmother fainted in the bathroom from dehydration. When she fainted mom asked me to go find help, I ran out of the bathroom and went to say something but I was so scared about nanny laying on the floor that when I opened my mouth nothing came out. I was terrified for a long time that if something horrible was happening I would not be able to call for help or communicate my needs.

I have mentioned many times how much I love what I do. I work on a unit at the hospital where most of the patients I care for are elderly, frail, confused. Many have had strokes or other debilitating medical conditions. I can only begin to imagine how scared each of them are laying in a hospital, many are from other countries and do not always understand what is said, others can’t hear very well and at times we have to go in their rooms wearing masks and gowns…they don’t see our mouths so can’t lip read, making us even harder to understand and more frightening when they are already confused. Some patients have lost the ability to talk or communicate what they need or want. It must be an overwhelmingly difficult and scary experience. I am constantly touched by the strength and spirits of the patients I care for. I know very well from experience what it is like to be a family member of someone in serious or critical condition in the hospital. I was terrified when we were going through it. I have spent hours, days and weeks beside loved ones hospital beds or incubators. I know what it is like being afraid. I wrote this poem as what I wish I could let my patients and their families know and thought I would share it.

My dear patient I wish I could truly find the words to say,

Thank you for adding meaning to each and every day,

It is a special honour for me,

To care for you and your family,

I know that you are confused and frightened,

I saw it in your eyes as your grip on my hand tightened,

I am so sorry you are scared and in pain,

But soon we’ll celebrate the progress you gain,

I am grateful for the stories and songs you share with me,

As you relive those moments from your memory,

I wish I had more time to sit and hold your hand,

But there are more patients down the hall who I need to help stand,

You bring my life so much joy when I can make you smile,

And the best shifts are when we can share stories for a while,

I know that this has been a crisis for your family and you,

I want to do my best to help you all get through,

Im sure my co workers often think I am slow,

But there are many acts of comfort to bestow,

I am here to make your life as good as can be,

And often the thing you want is a few minutes with me,

I am grateful to get to spend all of my shifts,

Giving both your body and spirit a lift.

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