Well today I got an email from family that was touching, sad, but touching. It was an email that was sent to my sister-in-law from a medic "Caroline" who worked on my brother David after the attack in Iraq. It struck a cord on two sides of my brain. On the analytical nurse side it finally gave some insight and answers to what actually happened to him. Five years after his death I still didn't know what the real cause of death was. Apparently he had some internal bleeding. That answers that.
The other side of my brain was the mushy/touchy/feely/little sister side. The email was exerpts from the medic's journal she wrote after the incident. She wrote repeatedly about how kind, loving, friendly, and thankful David was to everyone who was around him. This touched me. Not only did it give me peace to know he wasn't alone when he passed, but it touched me to know that even though he was dying he was still making friends and influencing people. That's just the way he was. And that's how I want to be too (well, if I could postpone the whole dying part for awhile). Even in the darkest hours, can I still be a shining light to those around me? Enough of a light to still ring true in a stranger's heart 5 years later? I hope so. I strive to be so.
As a nurse, I often see people at their worst moments. I'm not offended or hurt by some of those encounters because I always try to remember in the back of my head this could very well be one of the crappiest days of this person's life. It's common for patients to be cranky, pushy, or distant. I guess that's what touched me so much about this email. She talked about how David was so thankful and kind and loving. That is a side of patients we don't always get to see. And especially knowing how much David hated and feared needles and that this was probably the worst day of his life, it meant even that much more to me.
Lessons learned: 1. Be nice. Be nice even when you feel like you're dying. What type of memory do you want to leave on the people around you if this is the last time they will ever get to see you.
2. Reach out to people. David was reaching out to these medics up until the end. But even more than that- this medic- Caroline- reached out to my family more than 5 years later. How easy it would have been for her to never share her thoughts and experiences. Brush it off as "Oh, nobody cares about what I've seen/lived.", "I wouldn't want to bother them.", "It's not that important.", "What if they are offended, my words are perfect, I don't know what to say.". How many times have I thought these same things and not reached out to someone. But now being on the other end of it, seeing how much even just scattered thoughts can really mean to someone, I want to be sure to share whatever I know. It can truly change someone's life.
So thank you to the stranger that I will probably never meet, but who has touched my life deeply.