A Breath of Fresh Air, Relatively Speaking

By Tara Duffy, RN. Tara is an RN at Strong Memorial Hospital in Rochester, NY, where she works in the Wilmont Cancer Center. 

I hear it, taste it, smell the construction to my left as I walk into the hospital. It is a sight for sore eyes—as in causing them, not soothing them—so I try to pay it little attention.

Her smile catches my attention. I have not seen it in weeks.

“I hear you got outside today?” I ask.

by utahwildflowers/via Flickr

by utahwildflowers/via Flickr

The smile widens as I write my name on the whiteboard. She is a vibrant woman, full of life yet dying to be home.

“I did . . . it was greeeeaat,” she sighs.

I instantly envision the hospital surroundings—smokers circle at one exit, construction on the opposite.

“Where did you get to go?” I ask, hoping to learn of some hidden gems beyond these doors.

“Right out front,” she responds, matter-of-factly.

The construction site, I think to myself, instantly dismayed.

“It was sooo great.” Her smile surfaces again.

I suddenly realize she is speaking in relative terms.

“Just that fresh air,” she pauses as I envision the filth and ruckus, “was soooo nice.” She exhales deeply.

My smile widens with hers. I am instantly humbled. I manage an “I bet.”

I realize, in these moments, how easily life’s simple gifts can get away from us. To me, fresh air is on a hike through a forest, a kayak through the sea’s breeze, or skiing through the snow’s fall. Perhaps my expectations are glamorous because my fortunes have been good. Or perhaps it just takes a grateful patient’s reminder to appreciate a breath of fresh air in a cloud of dust.

As I exit the hospital, I pay the construction on my right some attention. It’s still a sight for sore eyes, a burden on my ears, a spot I’d just rather not be. But for right now, for this moment, I can appreciate it for what it does offer. A different perspective.

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2016-11-21T13:06:31+00:00 September 20th, 2013|nursing perspective, Patients|0 Comments
Senior editor/social media strategy, American Journal of Nursing, and editor of AJN Off the Charts.

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