I believe in being compassionate. I’ve always known what compassion was, but I just slipped it on the back burner of my life. “Who cares about Sara, it’s her own fault.” “Oh, she is sick? Oh well, she’ll get over it.” Her husband died? There is nothing I can do.” These are typical sentences I would constantly think to myself, but now I have learned different and it has become a major turning point in my life.
I arrived at the hospital at 8:15
A. M. on January 21st 2008. My hands were clammy and every time I swallowed it felt as though a waded up piece of bread were going down my throat. I looked down at my hands and they were shaking at an even tempo. My stomach was full of needles and my body felt lifeless. My mom and I walked into the hospital. The smell of disinfectant and sick people rupture throughout me. We walked to the nurse’s station, gave them my MRI and CAT scans and sat down. The fish tank was big and the fish were odd looking. Some had long whiskers and some were see through. I pictured myself on a sandy beach while gazing into that tropical fish tank. “Brooke,” the nurse called out in a gentle voice. I raised myself up unenthusiastically and began my walk to the prep room. My nurse was about half my size with short blond hair. Her smile radiated like a beam of sun. Her optimism was contagious. She asked uplifting questions and gave some uplifting insight on what the procedure involved. I changed into my hospital gown. It seemed like I was a prisoner. I couldn’t leave and I had to wear a gown just like everybody else. I lay on the hospital bed and the nurse began taking blood work and started ivy’s. Her smile calmed my nerves. Before I knew it, I was in the OR. The big machines were intimidating and frighten-some. “I can’t believe this is happening to me.” During my biopsy, the nurse was right next to my side stroking my hair and holding my hand. I had no control over the needle tearing through every muscle and nerve. I could feel every inch of pain. She was my only relief and comfort. All I could do is look up at her and try to feel her comfort in me. The surgeon hit my diaphragm. The nerves went from my head to my toes. I just wanted to die at this point. I squeezed the RN’s hand even harder to be reassured that everything was ok. At that excruciating moment in time, I knew I wanted to be as compassionate as my nurse was to me during the most unbearable time of my life. Why I didn’t treat people with more compassion before that surgery is something I may never know. Three hours previous, compassion never crossed my mind. I now know the importance of a simple word expressed with many emotions. In just those three hours that nurse taught me more than I could have learned in years.
If you enjoyed this essay, please consider making a tax-deductible contribution to This I Believe, Inc.