My golden years of nursing was spent at the Jubilee Hospital on 3-West, the Orthopaedic Unit. We were a team of nurses and allied staff who worked well together, whether we were short staffed or not. I spent eleven years out of my twenty one years nursing on that unit, and I knew I was working on a very special floor, serving very special patients, working with exceptionally special people. One of these exceptional persons was a woman named Sherri.
During the Spring of 2011 Sherri and I were teamed up together in B-Pod, she was the RN, and I was the LPN. One of our patients was a man in his seventies, admitted to our unit suffering from a spontaneous fracture to his right hip due to bone cancer. Our patient was indeed well on his way to death, and his wife was suffering greatly knowing her beloved husband’s death was immanent. My patient’s wife approached me shortly after noon one day, asking if her husband was due for a shot for his pain, I checked his chart, went to the med room, and drew up the prescribed amount of narcotic, the whole time wondering how much longer my patient would live. Just as I was in the process of giving my patient the shot of pain medicine, and trying unsuccessfully to console his wife’s grief, Sherri walked into the room.
I’ll never forget what she did and how she did it. Sherri asked our patient’s wife if she’d like to crawl into his bed and lie next to her husband, to hold him, talk to him and tell him how much she loved him. She immediately took Sherri up on the offer, and the result of this beautiful encounter moved everyone in the room to tears. Every one of us was crying, and the most important thing of all was that my patient and his wife shared this tender, precious moment in the very twilight of their relationship. Late in that same shift our patient died, with his wife holding and lying next to him.
What my friend and collegue Sherri offered to that couple in that time of grief was nothing less than the ministry of God’s love and compassion at work, literally in a work environment. To this day I remember so well that moment in time, and give such thanks for Sherri’s compassion for her patients, along with her God given gift in knowing how to respond in love to deep suffering.