Monday, August 1, 2011


I am grateful that I have feet that can stroll through sand or feel dewy grass in the morning.

I am grateful that I can feel the burn in my quads after a long, hard run.

I am grateful that my butt gets numb when sitting in the same place for a long time. OK, maybe I'm not grateful that my butt GETS numb...but I am grateful that I can feel the numbness.

I am grateful that I can cradle my favorite mug full of coffee in my hands on a cold winter day feeling the warmth.

I am grateful that my arms can hold and rock a baby.

I am grateful that I have a voice that can be heard, in both the literal and figurative sense.

The patient that I cared for this weekend really got me thinking about the things I so easily forget I'm grateful for.

My patient was a teenager who got into a car accident when she was just 4 years old. I don't know the details of the accident, but what I do know is that it was bad. REALLY bad.

She fractured many of her vertebrae and severely injured her spinal cord.

So bad was the accident, this girl cannot move anything below her neck, needs a machine to breath for her, and gets fed through a tube in her stomach.

She cannot remember what it was like to eat delicious pizza, ice cream or macaroni and cheese.

She's never had the opportunity to taste rich coffee or drink a full bodied wine.

She cannot run, or jump, or hike on trails.

She cannot hold her baby cousin, or hug her mother.

What she can do is extremly limited; She can listen and she can observe.

She has the ability to move her lips, but no voice to be heard.

She has a functioning mind, stuck inside a non-functioning body.

So this left me attempting to lip read for 26 hours over the past 2 days. And let me tell you, it was NOT easy!!!

So many times I found myself getting frustrated, and yet she just kept smiling, knowing that I would eventually get it. Or, that I wouldn't, and she would decide it wasn't important enough so she would lip "Never mind."

It took me 3 minutes to realize that her side hurt and she wanted to change positions. It took me 6 minutes to figure out that she wanted to watch a different movie. It took me 25 minutes to learn she wanted the water taken out of the cuff in her trach. And there were so many things that after 15, 25, 30 minutes I never even figured out!

I can't imagine what this girl has gone through for most of her life. And quite frankly, I don't want to!

But this girl doesn't have that luxury. Whether she wants to feel it, to imagine it, or not, she has to. This is her reality.

It has been for many, many years. And it will continue to be for many, many, many years.

Even though I don't want to imagine her reality, I do want to make sure it leaves a lasting impression on me.

What I do want is to continue to be grateful for the things that are so easy to take for granted.

I want to cheer, rather than complain, when my muscles ache after a great (maybe too hard!?) workout.

I want to taste, and savor the bites that I, myself, can place in my mouth.

I want to experience all of the things that my body can do. The limits that I can take it to. Whether that be running a marathon, or feeling the adrenaline of sky diving, or completing my first triathalon, I want to do it.

I want to continue to speak and have my voice heard. To hear my laughter with a group of friends, or my voice educating a group of students at work, and really appreciate it.

But most of all I want to keep the face of the one who taught me this gratitude in my memory's photo box. To have her ingrained in my mind, so that one day when I complain about a back-ache after standing on my feet all day, or a burger not tasting perfect, I will see her patient, smiling face reminding me to be grateful and instead enjoy that I can experience those moments.

Be grateful for the strong legs that allowed me to stand all day. Be grateful for the ability to feed myself, and truly taste.

This is why I love being a nurse. Why I cherish the shifts where I can make a small impact in the health of a child, while they make a large impact on me.

Truly there is nothing greater. No greater occupation, or calling to be had. And for this, I am grateful.

1 comment:

  1. WOW! Talk about impacting your life! It does put everything into perspective and how much we have to be grateful for! Thanks for sharing this.