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Nurses Create Legacies | What Are Yours?

How many legacies are you creating today?

You need to know this as a nurse: you’re not treating one patient at one particular moment in time. You’re leaving a legacy. Your actions are woven into the patient’s lifelong health tapestry.

As a lifelong patient, trust me on this one. Forty years of close care by the medical community has given me insight not commonly gained.

I marvel at your dedication, day in and day out, through cranky coworkers and perturbed patients.

Many times over, I’ve seen you at your best. Many times over, you’ve seen me at my worst. And still you treat me with kindness and respect.

My story began forty years ago at age seven, when I was unexpectedly admitted to the hospital. It was my first time away from home on my own. I was terrified. My diagnosis-finding stay extended out to three months, smack over the entire holiday season, November through January.

Either Mom or Becky, our good friend and neighbor, was at my side on a daily basis. As each evening fell, though, of course, my visitors needed to leave.

At 3 am, it was the nurses who kept me company. It was nurses who offered me a cool, life-giving sip of water (I’ve not tasted anything as refreshing since then), nurses who soothed my burning forehead, who checked on me when sleep wouldn’t come, and from whom I tried to hide my tear-soaked pillow in the enveloping darkness.

Each morning, nurses were the first people my mom looked to for reassurance about her little girl.

They were nurses 40 years ago. Yet I still remember their kindnesses.

I still remember.

Eventually, I was diagnosed with Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis. Professional health care givers have kept me going, on a daily basis and through eight challenging surgeries.

You’ve taken care of me when I couldn’t. You’ve allowed me to retain some degree of dignity even while taking care of my most basic needs when I was unable to do so.

You’ve treated my loved ones with kindness and respect, too, and that has become a cherish legacy of yours in my life.

You’re leaving a legacy for all those connected to each of your patients, down through the ages. A quarter century later, although I did not have the chance to meet them, I’m still comforted by the nurses who comforted my mom.

A decade and a half after my first stint as an inpatient, my mom found herself in the same hospital.

She praised her nurses who kept her as comfortable as possible as she lay dying of cancer. She fondly recalled oncology nurses from months before who’d seen her through all her treatments.

She was comforted by them then, and I’m still comforted by that fact now, a quarter century later.

I still remember. Know that you will be remembered, too.

You leave a legacy. What will it be?

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