It was a particularly rough day in oncology today and I am utterly humbled by the dedication and compassion of the oncology nurses. The oncology doctors are great with their amazing scientific words of hope in new advancements and medical technology that they provide on their long lap through the most hopeless ward in the hospital. However it is the nurses and techs who do the heavy lifting here.
While the doctors make their one round the nurses make their rounds with countless interruptions. Cancer patients are in unimaginable pain and their cries can be heard up and down the hallways. The nurses know their patients and are acutely aware of the pain medicine schedule of each one. Needs must be juggled, who needs something right this minute, who can wait another five minutes? Accidents are frequent and messy. Helpless patients must be assisted but maybe immediate attention will prevent another accident and the terrible humiliation that goes with it. Hundreds of decisions must be made every day, day after day, night after night. No one sleeps well in the oncology ward.
There are quite a few male nurses throughout the hospital, especially in the rehab center. But to my knowledge there is only one in oncology, and a great one at that. I think oncology nurses may need a strong motherly instinct to care for patients who have often been reduced to the physical abilities of children. I cannot imagine doing the things they must do for someone else but the oncology nurses clean up over and over while never letting a patient feel like they have become a burden.
I know tomorrow will be another difficult day, but I also know we won’t be going through it alone. We will go through the day confident that every time we have to punch the red button with the cross on it that it won’t be more than a couple of minutes before the beautiful face of a compassionate and professional angel in white appears.