8: Keeping the Pace

8: Keeping the Pace

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Inspiration for Nurses

Keeping the Pace

Your greatest danger is letting the urgent things crowd out the important.

~Charles E. Hummel, Tyranny of the Urgent

It was going to be another busy morning. I organized my day and reviewed charts, keeping one eye on the clock’s minute hand. Then I headed for the floor. Sigh — blood sugar to check. Another sigh — contact isolation. Pulling on my gown and gloves, I wondered how I could speed up the assessment process. What shortcuts could I take? With today’s workload, I needed to pick up the pace.

“Good morning. My name is Glenna. I’ll be your nurse. How are you?”

Sally stared at me, expressionless. I remembered that she also had a mental health diagnosis and had been some trouble for the night shift.

Hoping Sally would not disrupt my schedule, I pressed on, listening to her heart and lungs, and checking her skin. As she mumbled I made appropriate “Hmms,” and “Ahhs” as though I were really listening to her.

“You don’t look very comfortable,” I commented. I hoped she didn’t want something for pain. Maybe I could get by with repositioning her, saving a trip back to the med room.

“My neck hurts.”

I groaned inside. How inconvenient.

“Here, let me get your pillow,” I said, while I fluffed and rearranged it. “How’s that?” If I was lucky, the pillow trick would satisfy her.

“It still hurts.”

I relented. “Would you like me to rub your neck?” I sighed as I looked at the merciless clock.

She nodded. I quietly started to massage her neck, thinking about how much time this would cost me.

My thoughts jolted to a stop when she said, “Isn’t that what nurses do?”

My brain went ballistic. Are you kidding? Who has time for neck rubs? Doesn’t she realize I have four other patients waiting for me? I can’t afford the time for a neck rub! I thought about assessments, charting, med passes, audits, documentation, JCAHO… I caught my breath and half-smiled. Sally was right.

I relaxed and gently, lovingly rubbed the tense muscles of her neck. “Yes, this is what nurses do.” I gulped. “Sally, would you like a warm blanket?”

~Glenna J. Eady

This story first appeared in Our Stories: Living the Adventist Health Message Volume II. We want to thank Adventist Health for allowing us to share it.

More stories from our partners