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What she does that you don’t see

Most people’s view of a nurse is someone who wakes you up during the night to listen to your heart and lungs, the person you complain about for not bringing your pain medicine fast enough and typically the first person you may dump all your frustrations on. As a pediatric nurse, it will include that two year old that spits his medicine at your face, the baby that vomits all over you, or that teenager that swears at you. But what you don’t see is that she pulls these long hour shifts without taking a break and tries to eat in between charting and running around. Her day is filled with not only making sure her patients are comfortable and healing well, but chasing doctors around repeatedly asking for orders and ancillary tasks.
Yet, this isn’t all you see. We all like to hope that when children come to the hospital, they heal and get discharged home. But that’s not always the case. Sometimes we get that really sick child, we wonder if medicine will help them, will our treatment be effective? They will ask you, so you look into their eyes and tell them, no you’re not dying. Why does she lie? Maybe because as she prays inside, the child will be filled with enough hope to fight. She will stop at nothing to keep them alive. And sometimes they die.
The story doesn’t end there. What she does that you don’t see, follows after when everyone leaves. She was the child’s nurse. Behind the closed doors, there’s the dead body. She pulls out the IVs and the electrodes. She washes away the blood and straightens out the hair. She watches the ashen color cover their skin. And when she’s done, she waits. She wipes all the tears away. She died a little inside. No child should die, but sometimes they do. She pulls herself together, embracing her coworkers who know how this kills her. It’s the hardest thing she has to do. There is no amount of money in the world to compensate what it takes for her to wash the dead child before the funeral home takes them away. Yet she does it. Someone has to. Because sometimes, they survive. And sometimes she gets to watch them walk out.

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