Every day is Halloween and Thanksgiving when you are a nurse.
This summer I went on a run, although in my current state of fitness, it may have turned into more of a walk, for prostate cancer. Next month at work, we are making cupcakes for breast cancer in our own competitive in-house version of the cupcake wars, and today some friends of mine raced dragon boats for another similar good cause. We also have Coach bag bingo coming up to try our odds at getting an expensive bag, and recently, we kept the Philadelphia tradition of a beef and beer event to raise money to fight death and disease or to support a family after the fight is lost.
Why do we want to make things that are so deadly so much fun?
There does seem to be a lot of precedent for making the fight against death terribly fun. The history books are full of events where we all celebrate life while simultaneously trying to defeat death and diseases. Just look up most holidays. Halloween is coming soon, which is an entire holiday devoted to death and the things that scare and frighten us. Somehow, it is all fun. And just after Halloween, there is the day of the dead, which I highly recommend participating in if you are ever given the chance. I was in Peru once for the day of the dead, and I can say that I’ve never had so much fun around a graveyard in my life. Thanksgiving comes next, the day we all pig out on as much turkey and pumpkin pie as we can eat to celebrate the pilgrims cheating death and figuring out how to grow and raise food in their new wold, evading starvation.
Not to be morbid, but the most wonderful celebrations of life are perhaps the moments when we feel most like we have defeated death. And what does this mean for daily life, for the daily life of a nurse? I’ve left work pretty beat down some days, busted up from a long day and just tired. Some days, it does not feel like we are winning much of a fight. I confess, I had a pretty rough week. A friend of mine offered to take me to happy hour, and I was like, yes, please, let's go and relax. We chose a place and were seated at a great table outdoors and then, there, on the other side of the restaurant was a patient with whom I had spent quite a bit of time. At first I thought that this was not ideal for trying to relax. And then I realized, the last time I saw this guy, he was pretty sick. Like really sick and not knowing what to do, bad news sick. And there he was, healthy again, looking phenomenal. And yeah, my long week felt a little less important. Things felt a little more worthwhile.
The bad experiences tend to stick with us, but what about the good ones, which most definitely outnumber them? What about the people we do not see as patients anymore because they are better? Every day is Halloween or Thanksgiving as a nurse. Considering the fact that these are two of my favorite holidays, that’s not a bad situation in which to find myself.