How to Prevent a Code as a Nurse (and it’s not the way you think)

Hers was a story that would make you shake your head in disbelief just to hear the background, never mind what all actually went down on my shift with her. An unstable family, a turbulent social life, clear signs of personal distress. As the nurse, I listened to the story, and like a good nurse, my heart broke. This girl was in crisis precipitated by crisis, and this is the day where our lives crossed paths. I saw her, but she couldn’t see me. She was too sick. She couldn’t see my eyes of compassion. I didn’t know if she could hear me as I told her what I was going to do before I did anything, just in case it would startle her. Just in case she could still be startled. I wanted to still treat her like a human being, not just a really big problem that I really hoped to fix, so I addressed her by name and told her what I would be doing.

Her family told us how much they appreciated the way we loved her, and that’s when it hit me.

It’s easy to love from afar.

I didn’t actually know the girl. I knew bits of her story, and sure I felt compassion for her now, but it’s easy to love from afar and judge those who didn’t love up close. There is no question the world had not been kind to her, but neither had she been all that kind to the world. Brokenness responds with brokenness. I had to ask myself, knowing what I know of her story, if I had seen her on the streets two weeks ago, would I have shown compassion towards her then as I do now? Or would I have judged her, pulled my young children closer to me as she walked past, and whispered to my little ones, “You have to be really careful around people like that.”

It makes me think, the way I as a person treat a young broken girl on the street could very well be the way for me to prevent coding this young broken girl as her nurse. If I could let her see eyes of compassion while she could still see me, hear me call her by name instead of hear me whisper warnings about her to my little ones. This could very well be the way.

It’s easy to love from afar. God, help me to love up close.

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