Healing Wounds Through Compassion
Content warning: This article discusses the sensitive topic of suicide. We believe it is important to hold these difficult conversations around mental health while pointing readers to resources. If you have suicidal thoughts or thoughts of hurting yourself or others, don’t wait. Call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-8255 or text the Crisis Text Line at “741741” 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Healthcare workers are the cheerleaders some patients don’t have outside of a hospital setting. They lay out a plan of care before their patients, helping them gain strength physically, mentally, and emotionally along the way. It’s the type of support you can only find at the bedside.
Reyna is an ICU nurse. Her days on the hospital floor are anything but ordinary, but she loves serving a variety of patients.
“I knew I wanted to be an ICU nurse,” Reyna explained. “I wanted to have one-on-one care with patients.”
Sympathy is at the forefront of her bedside approach because she knows patients sometimes need more than medicine to heal.
One particular patient experience stands out to Reyna and left a mark she’ll never forget.
More Than Medicine
A female patient was hospitalized after a suspected suicide attempt, and she was just getting off of a ventilator when she came into Reyna’s care. As the patient regained her senses, she became withdrawn and quiet, but Reyna noticed the pain behind her silence.
“I would look at her, and her eyes would just be tearing up,” she recalled.
From what Reyna could gather, the patient had strained relationships with her family and had recently been through many hardships.
“Altogether, she didn’t have a good support system, and she was depressed,” Reyna explained.
So, the nurse offered a non-judgmental listening ear and let the patient know she wasn’t any less of a person for dealing with depression. Then, Reyna laid out a plan to cheer her up.
“By the third night, I said, ‘This is what we are going to do. We’re not going to stay in bed. We’re not refusing care. We’re going to take a shower,’” Reyna stated. “I braided her hair. I felt like she was warming up to me.”
Reyna’s kindness didn’t go unnoticed.
“The patient cried and thanked me for taking care of her. She said, ‘You don’t see it, but you really made an impact on me. Thank you for sitting here and talking to me,’” Reyna recalled.
The Heart of Healthcare
Three weeks after being discharged, the patient called the hospital in a frenzy. Reyna was off for the night, but her coworker relayed a message that the patient desperately wanted the nurse to know.
“From what my coworker could make out, she was saying, ‘Please, please, just tell Reyna I love her,’” she remembered.
Sadly, the patient died by suicide that night. Reyna’s compassion left such an impression on the patient that one of her final actions was to let the nurse who didn’t judge her know how much she cared.
Nurses touch lives, and this patient’s life touched Reyna, too.
“She showed me how real depression is, where it can take you, and how important it is to have a support system to not go through it alone,” Reyna cried.
As her experience and skill set grow, Reyna wants to hold tight to a few things she’s learned as a young nurse.
“I want to always remember that I play a role in the patient’s outcome – not just the medications they are going to get, but how they are cared for and treated,” she stated.
Mental Health Resources
At TNAA, we want to provide you with ways to manage anxiety, depression, and stress, so you don’t feel alone. Visit our Mental Wellness Resources page to learn about the benefits available to you, including First Stop Health – a free service connecting you or anyone in your household with a licensed counselor.
If you have suicidal thoughts or thoughts of hurting yourself or others, call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-8255 or text the Crisis Text Line at “741741” 24 hours a day, seven days a week.