“The Nurse Who Saw Me,” the Reflections essay in the May issue of AJN, is by JR Fenn, a writer and lecturer in upstate New York. The author, who is not a nurse, describes a night of uncertainty she spent in an isolation room on a pediatric unit with her sick daughter.
This is the kind of writing that helps a reader understand the perspective of a scared parent in a disorienting and uncomfortable environment. The care is efficient, and the clinicians she encounters all seem to be doing the right things for her baby. But reassurance is not immediately forthcoming, as we see in this passage from near the beginning:
The attending looks at us over her white mask when I ask if my daughter is going to be OK. ‘There isn’t the research for babies this young,’ she says, her eyes so huge I can see my terrified face reflected in them. I can’t ask any more questions because my throat has swelled closed as I fight tears.
One nurse, however, notices that for this parent on this long night, it may be possible to do a little more. And the little something that this one nurse finds she can do to ease the strain for this mother is not forgotten. Writes Fenn:
“As I cared for my baby, someone was caring for me.”
The title of this piece says a great deal: patients and their family members know it when they’re really seen. The essay is short, well worth reading, and free until May 17.