Saturday, June 17, 2017

A Nurse's Truth: In Healing You, I Healed Myself



I have had a life-long struggle with self-worth. I remember, even as a young child, feeling ever so different from those around me. It felt deeply lonely and it forced me to wonder if I had a place in this world.

This feeling of lack persisted into my adulthood. It became so strong in my teen years that I heavily contemplated suicide and wondered if I were even worthy enough for life itself. I felt empty, drifting through life with no reason at all.

As college approached, I mulled over many different careers: writing, teaching and nursing among the many choices. There were many things that attracted me to nursing, but the sticking point was that I wanted to make a difference. I desperately just wanted to be worthy of life, worthy of existence and helping others seemed the only way to find that.

I received my degree and my license as a Registered Nurse and set out to help others, wishing desperately to help others. In this past decade I believe that I have helped many, although I had been naive about how many there would be that I would not be able to help. What I did not expect is how serving others would help myself. That my helping others would go far beyond giving me a feeling of worth-- it would make me whole.

Nursing gave me a way to make a living by helping others and has allowed me to live beyond existing only for myself and my family. It has given me many things: confidence, knowledge, connection, purpose. 

However, my patients themselves have given me ever so much more. Getting to know and care for my patients, even the challenging ones, has been one of the greatest blessings in my life. Nurses and other health care professionals see patients on their very worst of days and it is astonishing how quickly you bond with people and the stories they tell you. My patients have honored me with their honesty, with their shortcomings, with their vulnerability, with their pain. Making a space within myself to carry their stories inside me has made me a better person. My heart and the depth of my compassion has grown each and every year of my practice.  



I still feel lonely often. My heart often feels broken open at the injustices of this world. Everyday I wonder if my work has been enough to truly help my patients.

The knowledge that I do have, the knowing that pushes me through each day, is that I am not alone in my suffering, in my loneliness. This is a lonely world full of imperfect people like myself. Separately we are imperfect, with jagged edges and voids of space looking to be filled. Together we fit together as puzzle pieces, our jagged edges fitting perfectly with the broken edges of another.

My dear patients: In embracing your imperfections, I have embraced my own. In honoring your stories, I have honored my own. In loving you, I have found a way to love myself.


There is a parable from the bible that is oft quoted in healthcare- “Physician, heal thyself.” I say, with complete honesty and gratitude, that in healing you, I have healed myself.


And, for that I will be forever grateful.


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7 comments:

  1. Wow, Amanda. It's like you were reading my mind. Just yesterday I was thinking that maybe I should have been a nurse. Because I love helping people and the medical part of life...but one of the things I didn't love about being a dentist was all of the responsibility!!
    What a fabulous post---and how great that you love what you do!!
    Jodie

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  2. Truth is not only powerful, it is inspirational.
    Carol

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  3. It's probably why EMT's study nursing in their 40's and 50's---and I've known several. Yes, they want to continue to serve their community long after their bodies can no longer take being bounced around in those ambulances. But they understand there is so much more that they are getting back when they are helping others.

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  4. What a powerful post, Amanda. I have experienced a similar phenomenon in life--it seems we never learn so well as when we teach another and we never help ourselves as well as when we help another. The magic of reaching out.

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  5. Nurses like you are to be treasured. Thank you for all you do! ❤

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  6. I know this feeling so well. I also get so much more from helping than being helped. xxx Margaretha.

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  7. I love this because I can relate. I have always struggled with self confidence. I chose teaching. :)

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