As I walked from work to the bus stop, in the shadow of the main hospital building, I was suddenly struck by the impact UVA hospital- the place and the people- have (has?) had on my life. Seriously, it is crazy. I was on “the bed and bath team” in the late ’70’s to make some extra money. This is where Mary Jane Morris taught me to make a bed with hospital corners – she was strict, compassionate and wore the big white nursing hat. Thus began my career in emptying urinals. I did my nursing practicums in what is now called the “West Complex” before the big white building came to be. Rules were looser then, and I recall my mentor in the MICU blasting American Pie at the nurses station and doing a great lip sync (she still works at UVA). Made the night shift fly by. WARNING -THIS POST COULD BE ABSURDLY LENGTHY.
I have made my closest friends through connections in nursing here – something about working in an intense hospital setting draws people together and nurtures friendships. So many good memories and enduring friendships. Lots of inappropriate laughter (the lifeblood of hospital staff). On the flip side I have known a person for less than a day and stood with him though life changing moments – withdrawing life support on a loved one, staying with the woman dying because she had no one else with her. I feel an incredible intimacy with them, and they have all made me a better person. My father had multiple surgeries here. My husband and daughter have been treated here. My father died here. I recently was treated for cancer and had to adjust to being the patient. It was not a good time (shocker), but I learned from being a patient what i as a nurse can do differently to make the journey through the health care system a bit easier. It was enlightening. I have been lucky enough to work with and learn from numerous brilliant people – in so many ways the people i have come in contact with have helped mold who i am today. I have shed a lot of tears in this place – tears of sadness, anger and frustration. Fortunately there are also tears of happiness – as on Monday when i walked in to visit my friends’ on 8N, and saw them with their newborn daughter and crazy big smiles on their faces. And there were tears crossing the finish line of the Women’s 4 Miler with my daughter, surrounded by so many friends that day also with UVA Hospital connections.
Many of my good friends are likely wondering what the hell has come over me – I can often be just slightly cynical re the workplace. I have no clue why I waxed so sentimental so abruptly, but I’ll just roll with it. It never hurts to focus on the positive and I need to practice that more often. Enough rambling – this does not scratch the surface of crazy memorable hospital stories i could tell but i will save them for other posts.