It never goes away

I’m a nurse. A visiting nurse, to be exact. I travel around town, spending 30-60 minutes with ill people. They are mostly senior citizens, doing what they can to keep the clock ticking. I find the job to be quite rewarding.  My purpose is to help these fellow beings stay home…to keep them relatively healthy and out of the hospital. I’m a helper by nature. It doesn’t even seem like work, most of the time. It feels like helping out my neighbors…which is literally what I did one day last week.

I was assigned a new patient who lived around the corner from me. She’s about 80 years old and suffering from some fairly decent health issues. Two of her children live with her, in her 2 bedroom condo. They take turns throughout the day taking care of her…giving her medication, doing housework, managing her care. This was my first time meeting her, so I reviewed her chart as we began the visit. Her illness has a huge impact on her life, and it’s not something that can be fixed.  I wouldn’t be surprised if she ended up on hospice by the end of the year. I noticed “depression” as one of her current diagnoses. I kept that in mind as I performed my assessment…listening to her lung sounds, her heart beat…assessing her medications. I talked to her, asking questions about how she was feeling, then about her family. I could tell she was worried, just by the tone of her voice. She told me about her children bickering about how to take care of her and how to juggle their jobs and lives while doing so, about how defeated she felt about her diagnosis, about how she doesn’t have the energy to do the things around the house she feels she should be doing. As soon as she opened up, she shut it down. She seemed as though she didn’t want to appear as if she was complaining. Old people don’t want to be a burden. Unfortunately, this situation is all too common with our senior population. It’s just not easy getting old.

As I wrapped up my visit, I sat next to her on the bed. I looked at her and said, “You know, it’s OK to feel depressed about your situation.” She stared at me, a little surprised. “Really?” she asked, softly. I took her hand in mine. “Yes, of course it is. You’ve got some serious health issues. Your kids are stressed. You’re stressed worrying about your kids. You have questions that aren’t being answered by your doctors.  It’s OK to allow yourself to feel sad about it. The feelings you have are real… and normal. Some bad things have happened to you “. Having spent the last year in fairly intense therapy, I knew all too well what it felt like to not have your feelings validated, and did not want this woman feeling that feeling. She broke eye contact and stared across the room, as if watching a movie, off in the distance. “You’re right, I have. And it never goes away… being molested.” Whoa! I could not believe she just said that. I was talking about her current medical condition and her stressful situation with her children, and she is remembering being molested. I just stared at her, wide-eyed, holding her hand. “Have you ever talked to anyone about this?” I asked. She slowly shook her head no. “No one talked about things like that, back then. No one wanted to hear it”. Damn. This woman has been carrying this heavy load around for roughly 70 years and hasn’t told a soul. What made her say it now? And to me? Was it having her feelings validated? Is it possible that this is the first time in this old woman’s life that anyone made her feel like her feelings mattered? Anything’s possible. Without thinking, I spoke from my heart… “I was molested, too. You’re right…it never goes away. But you know what? Talking about it with someone trained in these things makes it softer…easier to carry”. I gestured to my chest, and she nodded. She knew what I meant. That’s where your soul is. That’s where you carry it. The guilt. The shame. The fear. The insecurity. The pain. She knew. And I knew. “What if I arranged for a social worker to come see you? You could talk to her about it, and talk about what’s going on in your life. Maybe it would lighten the load a bit?” I saw a little spark in her eye. “Oh yes, that would be wonderful!” She sighed a sigh of relief, and looked around, like she was anxious for the next step. I gave her a hug and went on to my next patient. I didn’t want to. I wanted to sit with this woman for days, listening. I wanted to send her to my special therapist twice a week, just like I got to do. I wanted to teach her how to journal. I wanted to take her to meditation class. I wanted her to receive Reiki. I wanted to fix her, as I had fixed part of my own soul. I thought all these things as I waved goodbye.

I see sad situations every day. It’s just an unfortunate part of the job. This one, though…it’s sticking with me. It’s filling me with questions. What if I never said anything about her feelings? What if I was never assigned to be her nurse at all? What if she died never releasing any of that shame? No one would ever know. What if I never told my therapist? Would I be 80 years old and still bearing that cross, without realizing why? After the year I just had, I don’t think anything is by chance. This happened for a reason. Not just to help her release her pain, but maybe something bigger. I think maybe me going through the painful journey of processing my pain was so I could be a part of whatever this bigger thing is. Or maybe, this is the bigger thing? It is pretty big, to her… and to me. I suppose time will tell.  You can’t truly realize just how important validation is unless you’ve never had it, and then receive it. That’s how I know. It never really goes away, but it softens…


17 thoughts on “It never goes away”

    1. Thank you, Sarah. I couldn’t be happier with my job. I love what I do. It’s so rewarding and I feel completely satisfied at the end of the day. There’s just nothing like making someone feel better…and to get paid for it is an added bonus!

    1. You know what I think is going to come from all this? I think I’m going to take a Reiki class. All I can think of is how I want her to be able to experience all the helping things I got to experience this year. If I become certified in Reiki, I can do it for free to all of these people I take care of, and maybe help someone to heal. It’s worth a shot. I went to a medium last year, and she was very adamant about me taking a class. I laughed, because it seemed ridiculous that someone as damaged as I was could ever help heal someone…except I’m not so damaged anymore. So now it’s not sounding so ridiculous.

      A footnote: I spoke to a patient advocate at the medical practice she goes to. Apparently, there are a few therapist who make house calls and are covered by Medicare…so she’s going to get some help, right in her bed, to process her 70 year old childhood sexual abuse! Can you believe it??

      1. OMG. You have me in tears about the therapist who will be able to help your patient.

        Yes! Yes! Yes! Go for the Reiki. I don’t know if you’ve ever heard the term: wounded healer. But that’s what we, and many other healers are. Many healers are born into the world as very sensitive souls. We often create challenging life paths with the goal of overcoming the hurt, so we can turn around and help others. I wouldn’t be one bit surprised if you life changes in more wonderful ways if you become Reiki attuned. It actually sparked of a series of synchronistic events that led to my spiritual awakening only a few weeks after my first attunement.

        More and more, Reiki is being used in hospitals and medical settings. When my dad was in Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, I went on their website and contacted their Reiki person, asking her to drop in on my Dad. Did you know that a small study was done where they performed Reiki on organs pre-transplant? There was zero organ rejection. Medical doctors in general aren’t aware that our physical body is a copy of our energy body, and that when you remove and organ, it still has a person’s energy with it. Plus, if you remove a cancerous organ, the energy of the cancer can stay in the body and pop up elsewhere. Not always, but it happens. Depends on the soul plan.

        So excited for you. I myself took a one day (Saturday) class to become attuned, but do whatever calls to you.

        1. Oh my gosh, this response is so validating! I’m looking into a 1 day class on Saturday, too! I’ve never heard of “wounded healer”, but as soon as I read the words, I understood. Maybe that’s why I had to go through all that trauma…to give me the skill set I need to help people? And maybe that’s why I suddenly decided to sell my company and take a lower position as a home care nurse? I’ve made so many decisions over the past few years that have seemed impulsive, but really was just me responding to the overwhelming urge I suddenly felt inside me. Like a “knowing”. I’m feeling it now:)

  1. Oh Jamie good on you. That kind of attending to someones heart and soul happens so rarely. It was a God given moment. My mums district nurse called an ambulance on Monday rather than ask those kind of questions and she had an unnecessary trip to hospital. This moved me so much I wanted to give you a huge were meant to be thete. ?

    1. Thank you, Deborah! I truly felt that my being there was caused by something bigger than me. I treat all my patients this way, and always get a warm response from them…but this time was so different. I’m looking forward to seeing her on Monday, and hope we can connect the same way.

      Those unnecessary trips to the hospital are awful. So many things can be prevented if nurses just stop and think for a few minutes…and communicate. I hope all is well with her:)

  2. I love this story so much! It’s so sad that this poor lady had carried this burden for so many years but I love that she was able to share with you. I love how you can see your own painful experiences enabling you to help someone else, and it just shows hiw important it is for people to have their feelings validated and for people to really listen.

  3. Im not sure if my reply worked. It kept saying error sending so Im gonna try again although they all my come through and you may get 3 messages!!!!
    Just wow. You made my night by writing this. You gave her such a gift, you are such a special person that you were able to say just the right thing so that she could open up to you something she’d held in her entire life. What a weight lifted for her and what an incredible human being your are to have been able to be that person for her. Just wow. Wow wow.
    I did reiki while i was in hospice all the time. Sometimes it just came right out of my hands when i held someone’s hand and was praying for them. Thank you again for sharing this beautiful story.

    1. It worked, but just this one came through. I tried to respond last night through the app on my phone and got an error message. So frustrating! Anyway, I’m seeing this woman tomorrow. It may be my last time being assigned to her, which makes me sad. However, I’m realizing that I will probably come across more women like her, and just won’t realize it. I bet I’ve taken care of many of them already, and just didn’t know. I’m going to be more aware now. It was truly a life changing experience. Never have I felt so confident that I am exactly where I am supposed to be, doing exactly what I’m supposed to be doing:)

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