No matter what religion you practice or which holidays you celebrate, this is a tough time of year to be a patient in the hospital. For the many years that I have been a nurse, and the number of holidays that I have worked, I have learned that most patients do not want to be there. There is usually a push to get as many patients out of the hospital as possible before the holidays, of course ensuring they are ready for discharge. But for the many who are not ready, they must remain hospitalized during the holiday season.
Knowing this and knowing that many nurses start talking about working the holidays and trading shifts in July, working the holidays is a subject that many staff find difficult. The holidays are difficult for everyone, the patients who are sick and the staff who are working, and the families who are trying to be supportive of their loved ones.
When I look back on the holidays that I have worked, I find now that I had many experiences that did not seem so positive at the time, but are now uplifting and memorable. The most overriding feeling is one of companionship, the concept that we are all in this together – patients, staff, families – all working toward the goal of helping the patient to get better or to help alleviate their suffering. Doing something to help another human being, at a time when they are most vulnerable, is really an opportunity that as a nurse we are privileged to be able to offer.
Once the diagnosis of mesothelioma is made, the holidays and all they represent take on a new dimension. Spending time with your loved ones becomes so much more important than spending money on material things. As we remember our past holidays we savor the opportunity to make memories that last long after any presents are exchanged.
As we enter a new year, we are once again reminded that tomorrow is promised to no one. Enjoy your family and savor every moment of your life.
Wishing you and yours a happy and healthy new year!