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Remembering Alice

This isn’t the post I’d planned on writing today, not the post I’d like to be writing either.  When I first got into healthcare I quickly learned that some patients hit you a little harder than others.  The kids the same age as yours, the elderly lady that smiles like your Grandma, the babies and small child, the times that no matter what you do you can’t save them and are relatively helpless at even relieving their pain.

What I didn’t realize was how difficult it is to take care of one of your own.  Whether it’s a neighbor, someone you go to church with, and most difficult someone who has worked beside you for years.  Jackie was my first experience with watching someone go from healthy and full of life to seeing them bravely battle cancer to finally going home on hospice.  She was such a dear friend, so kind and everyone she took care of received extra special care.  Everyone.  I still think of her often, her stash of jokes she kept on her phone, her strength, her love for her daughter.

A month or so ago I found out that the nurse who oriented me as a new grad, was a mentor for a long time, wonderful example had a brain tumor.  I didn’t know many details regarding prognosis etc, since I’ve left Med/Onc at DRMC and work in ICU at VVMC.  I’d occasionally hear updates but they were never good news and when I hadn’t heard anything for a while I hoped things were looking better for her.  I was wrong.

She left the hospital end of last week on hospice and passed away last night.

As a newer nurse I had a patient who had been admitted a few months before for similar situation, she was scared and in pain with no IV.  I did little to relieve the fear and was not very confident about how easily I’d be able to get her IV.  Alice walked into the room, had heard she was being admitted again and stopped by to just check on her.  With her sweet smile and gentle hands my patient quickly felt more at ease and had an IV so I was able to help her pain.  It’s one story that stands out in my mind, but was nothing out of the ordinary for Alice.  If it was possible for her to help ease someone’s burden, whatever it may be and whatever the cost for her, she was there willing and happy to help.  I’ve seen her sitting at the bedside holding someone’s hand that was scared or lonely, her smile would brighten any room.

Alice, you made the world a brighter place your example has influence many.  Your ability to comfort someone in need went far beyond any skill set taught in nursing classrooms.  Thanks for your years of friendship and mentoring, you will be greatly missed.  I might just go pick up a paperback Harlequin Romance novel, making sure it wasn’t “too bad” to read on my lunch break.

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