My usual readers are probably confused by that title but there are a lot of new friends checking in on The Pink Shoelaces this morning!
Yesterday morning after work, I felt absolutely defeated. I had learned of several of my previous patient’s deaths, a common occurrence right now in our COVID ICU. While we have a great team and incredible leadership, the morale is poor. We are all exhausted. The “wins” are few and far between. The patients are sicker than ever. COVID-19 is rearing its ugly head with no end in sight.
I picked up my phone while waiting to get my car serviced and I typed out one single line that sparked a viral post on Facebook:
An Honor I didn’t Ask For
After that, the words just kept coming and pouring out of me like a dam that had busted open. I’ve had this conversation with other creatives in which God pours through a message that he needs to be sent. My favorite artist Macklemore says this lyric, “God wrote Otherside, the pen was in my hand, I’m just a flawed man.”
Otherside is a song he wrote about struggling with drug addiction that has inspired many others to reach their own sobriety. That’s how I felt about this piece. God wrote it, the pen was in my hand and I finished it in about 10 minutes as I was falling asleep after night shift. Here’s the full piece:
All the training,
All of the classes,
All of the tests and exams
Couldn’t have prepared me
For the honor I didn’t ask for.
When someone looks you in the eye and asks if they are going to die, what are you supposed to say to that?
What are you supposed to say when you know they will?
The medications weren’t working.
The heart rate was too high,
the blood pressure too low, nothing I did was helping.
Nothing was right. Everything felt out of place,
Who thought I was qualified for this?
If God works through me, where is he now?
It can’t be his plan that after 72 years it all leads up to this moment.
Monitors. Alarms. Chaos. Tubes. Wires. Fear.
An honor I didn’t ask for: I’m the only one by his side. 72 years and I’m it. Where are his friends? His family? Why is it me?
A stranger before 36 hours ago. And now his only friend.
Who thought I was qualified for this?
An honor I didn’t ask for: Bearing witness to his final breaths, lungs that have breathed life and laughter for 72 years finally rest, a virus destroying any chance of recovery.
An honor I didn’t ask for:Holding a cold hand through nitrile gloves,
hands that have held grandchildren,
hands that have created masterpieces,
hands that have held his wife of 50 years,
hands with scars and callouses and stories now rest in my unworthy gloved hand.
An honor I didn’t ask for. Just because I didn’t ask for it doesn’t mean I’m not honored.
For God to have placed me here in this hospital on this shift at this moment by his side. Too many fates had to have collided for it to be anything but where I’m supposed to be.
Dozens of others are more qualified to witness this sacred passing between life and death:
People who have held these hands before they were cold and mottled and edematous.
People who have heard his laugh before the ventilator took it away.
People who have looked into his blue eyes that he’s handed down to his children’s children before his pupils were fixed and dilated.
They should be here. But it’s me.
An honor I didn’t ask for:
I’m the only one there as his heart stops.
We did all we could. I mean that with all sincerity.
I did all I could. I need to quickly convince myself of that before I move onto the next patient.
I did all I could.
I’ll forever wonder if it was enough.
After all, nothing can prepare you for the honor you didn’t ask for………
Please appreciate this as a creative writing piece. While it was inspired by certain real life events it does not reflect one specific event or patient interaction. There have been several times throughout my career and even more so in the past 9 months where patients die alone – except for the nurse. Maybe because things progressed too quickly, maybe they live out of state, several times the spouse has been hospitalized themselves with COVID. But generally, it’s a creative writing piece, not a true story.
Last night when I hopped in the car to go check out holiday lights with the fam. I was ecstatic that over 12,000 people had organically seen my post in their feet. As I type this, that number is quickly approaching 80,000.
I’ve finally broken that 1,000 page likes mark that I’ve been working at and stuck on for months. So while my OG crowd, my tried and true homies have been here for forever, we are welcoming several new readers and I’m so excited to have you here.
I’m Kalissa, I’m an ICU/ER nurse at a Level 2 trauma center in Iowa. I’ve worked in long term care, I’ve worked in critical access emergency departments, and began my adventure as an ICU nurse in April of 2020 mid pandemic. I am working my way back into ER while honing my ICU skills. I’ve been a nurse since I graduated in 2015 with my associates degree, I’ve continued on and graduated from the University of Iowa with my BSN. I also maintain my EMT-B license and I’m active on our local First Responders.
This blog started out as a nursing blog and has evolved to whatever I feel like posting about. Sometimes nursing, sometimes mountain biking, sometimes recipes, but a whole lotta family.
I’ve got two boys, Carver and Gannon that make frequent appearances on the blog, as well as my husband Craig who is a farmer.
No matter how you got here, I’m happy to have you here. Please follow me on instagram @thepinkshoelaces and @kalissageorgia
Thanks so much for stopping by, I hope my content serves you well.
Thank you for all you do for your patient’s. It means a lot to the family that their dear loved ones didn’t die alone. Thank you for your kindness.
Your creative writing skills touched many hearts with that posts. Thank you for what you do for those who need your skills and compassion.
This piece rings true with this Registered Nurse, every line. I always hope that in some small way my patients knew that I genuinely cared about them and for them and that they were not alone.
Sending you big hugs and prayers for your continued health in these terrible times.
It was beautiful! I shared it on FB. And you are welcome, thank you for your service
This so beautifully captures the humble privilege nurses have in sharing a dying patient’s last moments. Trust that you are placed there “at such a time as this.” Looking back at my 40 year nursing career, those moments are my most treasured memories.
Sending prayers for you and all those fulfilling your calling and doing this incredibly hard, taxing, but immensely rewarding work!!
Beautifully written Kalissa. Might I have permission to share with a link back to your post? It touched my heart and I think my readers would find it so as well. ❤️
Yes of course! https://www.facebook.com/thepinkshoelaces/posts/460421095361409
Thank you Kalissa for all you do and share.
Absolutely love An Honor I Didn’t Ask For…now are you going to set it to music?? Thank you for caring about your patients enough to hold their hand as they leave this world…you are letting them know they aren’t alone and I know that means the world to them and their families!!