So it wasn't a typical Thanksgiving, but there was something bittersweet about sharing the turkey feast that the HEADstrong foundation put on for all our patients and staff. A nurse who doesn't work on our floor usually said he had never seen anything so wonderful in the hospital before. Picture every patient and their family crowded into our conference room chowing down on turkey in an amid wheelchairs and IV poles. It was a pretty overwhelming sight.
I suppose I should have mentioned this before, but one of the reasons behind my running is my patients. I work on a Bone Marrow Transplant unit that has people in every stage of leukemia/lymphoma/multiple myeloma treatment. I also take care of people with breast, colon, lung, and pancreatic cancer from time to time. I treat people from initial diagnosis all the way through end-of-life care. Working 4, 12-hour shifts in a row has never been so physically and emotionally draining. Walking everywhere was so painful. The first two shifts it was my achilles, the last two I felt like I had osteoarthritis in both knees. I just needed some time off my legs. But my leg pain compared to the 46 year old women who is fighting the incredibly nauseous affects of total body irradiation and high dose chemo, the 30 year old man who is missing his 10 month old son and 2 year old daughter (who are the CUTEST kids I have EVER seen) grow up, and the 21 year old who has relapsed disease and is in over the holidays with a massive pneumonia. I mean I just ran a MARATHON. I have so much health to be thankful for.
I found myself overwhelmed again when I popped in on one of my favorite patients in for a month or more for induction chemo (this is the 30 year old). His first question was, "did you make it?!" I told him I did!! and we looked up my official time and he gave me a high five. Over the next three days, and on Thanksgiving he introduced me to his whole family, all 30+ of them, who he "hosted" for thanksgiving on his hospital floor, as the girl who just ran 26 miles. He wants to run a marathon when he beats his leukemia. He had just started to run 5K's. I really hope that I can run a marathon with this guy someday.
I take so much pride in who I am as a nurse. I rarely have days like I am right now where I feel the burden of caring so much about my patients. I think it was working over the holiday, coming home alone to my apartment each night, and then going back to work and helping people to cope with the suckiness of their situation. One of my guys, he's 21 and hopefully getting a transplant in the next month, came in with a really bad pneumonia. He got better over the past four days, and yesterday I brought him in a big carton of Chocolate ice cream... because ours sucks. I asked if he would do a few laps in the hall later and he said, "I don't do laps." Later, after having some really good chocolate ice cream together in his room, who do I see coming around the corner... my guy!! That was my big reward for the stretch of work. We did a few laps together chatting about stuff, but just him having to be here, over thanksgiving, and having leukemia period, just kept pulling on my heart strings.
So I have so much to be thankful: Running is number one right now for me, it is going to keep me sane! my patients daughter who brought me a cup of coffee yesterday morning is up there on the list too! my co-workers. my patients. my friends. my family. and my health.