Wednesday, March 12, 2008


Each day, I am stunned by the joy and the suffering that exist intertwined in this world.

Working in healthcare weaves me into the fabric of other people's joys and sorrows in a way I did not fully grasp when I thought about becoming a nurse. It is a reality I am coming to inhabit over the course of this MEPN year. Last quarter in my labor and delivery rotation, I helped coach a woman through her labor and the birth of her first baby, then helped her learn to nurse her child. In my community health rotation, I filled syringes with liquid morphine for the family of a hospice patient to squirt into her mouth to relieve her pain in the last two days of her life. I've walked with patients in the hospital halls, I've bathed them, I've accompanied them to frightening tests and procedures, I've celebrated with them when they're ready to go home and to re-enter their lives on the outside of the hospital. Until recently, I had no grasp of the power and the gravity of playing that part in a person's story, nor of how grand and improbable our stories can be.

I used to think that most of life was mundane, habitual, full of errands to run and tasks to accomplish, only occasionally punctuated with moments of joy or of tragedy. Increasingly, I see how precious, how fragile, and how impermanent life is; intertwined joy and tragedy, all the time, if we're paying enough attention to notice. I don't know if all budding nurses encounter suffering and joy, their own and others', in such intimate and constant ways as they come into their new roles, or if they also struggle to understand how we are to interact meaningfully with it all. What colors this year most vividly though, far beyond any lecture or clinical skill, is my effort to fully face the depth of wonder, beauty, sorrow, and pain in my patients' and their families' lives. It has been a year of striving, sometimes desperately and often clumsily, to sort out my place amidst the messiness of life, as difficult, as poignant, as radiant, and as tenuous as it is.


JessBess said...


Thank you for posting this! I'm a current MEPN ('09 -'10 class) who just discovered this blog via Facebook. Your writing captures my feelings exactly; it's as if you wrote the words for me. As a student nurse, I've witnessed a wide spectrum of emotions in clinicals - joy, pain, love, loss - just to name a few - which have altered my perspective on life. It's nice to know someone else has had similar experiences and has felt the same way.


CataLina said...

Beautifully expressed!