Friday, March 4, 2016

The Value of Presence

The BBC's Crimson Field

Dear Mommies,
After Downton Abbey, I didn’t think anything would replace my need for engrossing, well-written mini-series. 

Then I discovered The Crimson Field. Released in 2014, the drama centers around nurses, doctors and Royal Medical Army staff at a hospital camp (think MASH + post-Victorian England) during World War I in northern France. Just the first episode was gripping and horrifying, flecked with oddly humorous moments.

But while most reviewers discussed the BBC’s celebration of the anniversary of WWI or the pitfalls of the script and story threads or the history (or lack of) or the acting (or lack of), all I could think of was nurses.

Years ago, I worked in a trauma unit at a hospital. This series brought me back to those days.  When I saw the best and worst of human behavior. I saw people in agony, dying, crushed—literally and figuratively.

It doesn’t matter who you are, how much money you have or the color of your skin— everyone feels pain. Everyone suffers. And no matter who you are or where you come from, you can help by just ... caring.

Some other things I recalled:

I learned the difference between a good  nurse and a nurse who simply worked for a pension. And a charge nurse has to be everything to everyone, all at once.

I learned the value of listening and offering sympathy. And just because you have a medical degree, doesn't mean you will listen or offer sympathy.

I learned how precious the first few breaths of life are and how precious the last few breaths are. We should not be born or die alone.

I learned the importance of a well-made bed. It was a safety--not aesthetic--issue in the hospital.

Most of all, I learned the value of presence. Being beside someone during a difficult time is something that can never be quantified. And that's what I remembered the nurses and the nursing aides did. There were times they did nothing more than stand beside a person's bed or touched their hands -- and that was enough.

You don't need to be super mom, just be there.
Relax mommies, you've got this.

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