Tuesday, May 11, 2010

National Nurses Week

There is a story I like to tell because it celebrates someone's remarkable qualities, and I take joy from this. 

Once upon a time, I coded on an operating table -- which means I went on a 5 minute vacation that could have lasted 49 days, had not those attending engaged in what are called "heroic measures." This is a very good experience, quite honest and immediate, but it is so easy to get attached.

There was a tall, red-headed surgical nurse in the operating room, and as I was lying there,  more or less enjoying myself, she leaned down and shouted in my ear, "Don't get attached to it! Come back! Its just a decision! Its just a decision!"

I was thinking, "Yes, I know all that, but this is the first vacation I've had in years." She seemed to understand what was happening, because she again shouted "You can decide to come back! You can watch it, but do not get attached! Decide to come back now!"

I woke up in post-op, and she was standing beside the bed. She had her cap off, which is how I know she was red-headed. She was a remarkably beautiful woman, with an almost ideally kind expression on her face. I am not exaggerating when I say she reminded me of Tara. 

She smiled when I focused my eyes, and said, "Thank you for making that decision."

She turned and walked out of the room, and I never saw her again.

May 6 through 12 is celebrated as National Nurses Week, the twelfth being Florence Nightingale's birthday. 

If you ever want to see what a real bodhisattva looks like, just look at a nurse. 

To all nurses everywhere: you have my deepest respect and admiration. 

To one nurse in particular: Wow.

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