There is Power in a Name

There’s something about a name.

I had been told that she was a little grumpy and wasn’t big on chit-chat. They told me to get in, do what I had to do, then get back out. They told me to not waste my time on idle chatter; I wouldn’t get anything out of her.

I walked in the room a little apprehensively. The last person I had been told was “a little grumpy” threw something at my head. She groaned an acknowledgment of my presence and told me she had a headache.

To my shame, I didn’t talk to her. I told her I would see what I could do for that, did what I had to do, then left.

I was not looking forward to the time I was about to have to spend with her.

I went back in to see her a few minutes later. I had more things to do.

This time, she started talking to me. The woman they told me was “a little grumpy” was actually very lonely. Yeah, she was a little gruff, but she also hadn’t slept well in a few days.

And then I asked the question that would turn our entire day around.

“What do you want me to call you today?”

She stared at me for a long second, smiled, and told me a completely different name than everyone had been calling her.

“It’s my middle name. I go by my middle name.”

From that point on, I had a staunch supporter, a fast friend, and a willing partner in all the day’s goings on. If I told her we needed to go somewhere, she was game. If she needed help with something, she let me know first.

For the rest of the day, I got strange looks as I called her one name while everyone else called her something else. We just smiled a secret smile at each other and did what we had to do.

She told me about her dreams and the things she wanted from life. I told her about my travels and the places I wanted to go.

And she changed.

In the course of our day, she turned from a grumpy woman in a darkened room, to a smiling woman in a light-filled room.

I didn’t really realize the extent of the change in her until I walked in to check on her and found her trying to get up. She hadn’t gotten out of bed in two days because she didn’t think she could. Now, she declared that she was fine. And she was. She could walk.

When I told her my goodbyes at the end of the day, she thanked me. She told me I had done more good for her in my hours with her than had been done in days. I asked her what I had done that no one else had.

“You called me by my name.”

They told me he was completely deaf. They said that I could try talking to him, but it wouldn’t do much good. They told me his wife was a mother bear and could be pretty difficult. They said I might have trouble with her, to tread lightly.

When I walked in the room, his eyes followed me everywhere, but he didn’t say a word. His wife sat beside him, holding his hand, watching me too.

“Good morning. How are you guys today?”

His wife answered, “We’ve been better, but we’re hanging in there.”

I looked him in the eye, “How did you sleep?”

“Oh, he’s deaf,” she said.

“How deaf?”

They exchanged a look.

“He can’t hear much of anything.”

“Does he have one ear that’s better than the other?”

“No… He’s just deaf.”

“Okay. Well, what do you want me to call you guys today? Is Mr. and Mrs. ***** fine or is there something else you’d rather go by?”

She looked at me and smiled. And I will swear until I die that I saw him wink at me.

“You can call us by our first names. Last names are so formal, don’t you think? He can hear better out of his left ear.”

For the rest of the day, they were both incredibly supportive. The three of us chatted about their grandchildren and what they wanted to do with their retirement.

She supported all of my decisions. He was willing to do anything I asked. He stood up for me to one of my superiors. She bought me coffee because she knew I had a long day ahead of me. He laughed at all of my terrible jokes and told me some of his own. She laughed at both of us and told us we were worse than children.

When I went in to say my goodbyes, they both hugged me tight.

“Thank you,” she said, holding my hand. “Everyone calls us by our last names because we’re old. It was nice to just be us for a change.”

“You keep going, girl,” he said with another wink. “I know you’ll go far.”

It’s always the small things. It’s always a smile or a cup of coffee or a name.

Sometimes grumpy people are just lonely. Sometimes a bear just needs to be recognized as a scared human. Sometimes you just have to be willing to ask a simple question.

I’m coming to realize that there is incredible power in a name. It is who that person is. Their entire story is wrapped up in it. It’s what they will use to sign the dotted line when all is said and done. It’s the mile marker for their history.

Everyone who said something important to them used their name. Everyone who meant something to them knew their name. Everyone who loved them called them by their name.

Recognizing who someone is and calling them by their name can change them. It can make them better. It can sooth them. It can remind them of the good times.

Know someone’s name. And, more importantly, call them the right one. It can change their life. And yours.


Then and Now: My First Semester of Clinicals

I just did my last Medical-Surgical clinical for the semester. Thank goodness. I’m so tired.

Because of that, I’ve been doing a lot of thinking today about the difference between my first clinical and now.

That first clinical, I was a trembling, scared, nauseous child who just knew she was going to kill someone. Or worse, fail the clinical.

I questioned every move I made. I needed my instructor to walk me through everything. My hands constantly shook. My assessments took half an hour. I almost cried before I gave meds because I was so afraid I wasn’t going to remember that Neurontin was for seizures. I was almost afraid to touch my patient for fear of hurting them or making them worse.

It was awful.

Today, my initial vitals and assessment took fifteen minutes. And that was taking my time and chatting with my patient’s family. My hands were steady. I never even got close to crying or throwing up. I was confident in my knowledge about my patient’s medications. I knew that I could touch my patient without hurting them. In fact, I was confident that by holding my patient’s hand or getting their hair out of their eyes or helping them straighten out their hospital gown, I could help my patient feel better.

It is great.

My first clinical, I had to change some of my plans based on my patient’s condition. I went to my clinical instructor, told her what I was thinking, explained my assessment, asked her to do her own assessment, asked her what she thought I should do, and almost threw up because I was sure I was going to fail. I needed her to walk me through the change of plans and was constantly asking if I was doing everything correctly.

I was so nervous.

Today, I informed my clinical instructor that, based on my assessments, we were holding my patient’s medications until further testing could be done. That was it. She, to her credit, understood that my assessments were accurate, and she trusted my decision. Once further testing was done, I reevaluated and made a new decision. I didn’t need to ask for another opinion or what I needed to do, and I knew I was doing what was best for my patient.

I am confident.

My first clinical, I was terrified that my patient would have a bowel movement during my time there. I felt like I could deal with any of the other bodily fluids, but feces terrified me. I didn’t want to deal with it. I didn’t want to clean up after it. I wasn’t really sure how to clean up after it. I dreaded the thought.

I was afraid.

Now, I get so excited when my patient has a bowel movement. Few people understand the joy that comes with a patient finally having a bowel movement after they’ve been stopped up for way too long. Sometimes, even the patient doesn’t understand it. Seriously,  how many times have you told someone you had a bowel movement and they’ve responded by clapping their hands and declaring how proud they are of you? It’s abnormal. But I get so excited. One of the girls in my clinical group and I talk about our patient’s feces together. Now, I’m totally fine with cleaning it up. In fact, I’m pretty good at it.

I am excited.

A lot has changed. Those are only a few examples about how things are different now. My brain is tired from a long day at the hospital or I would think of more.

I never thought I could experience such a drastic change. I didn’t realize how nursing school would change me and grow me. I’m not the same scared girl. Yes, next semester is coming. That will be different and scary in a new way, but I know I can handle it. If I can survive this, anything is possible.

I keep reminding myself that I won’t be the first person to graduate nursing school. Loads of people have done it before me. It’s possible. And I won’t be the last person to graduate nursing school. Loads of people are going to do it after me. It’s possible.

My Grey’s Anatomy Moment

It was seriously the most Grey’s Anatomy thing that will ever happen to me.

It even happened on an elevator. You know everything important in life happens on an elevator in a hospital…

So, I had just finished preplanning and I was headed to the elevators that sit in the middle of the fourth floor. There are three hallways that meet up at these elevators and, as I was approaching the elevators from my hallway, I noticed an extremely attractive man in scrubs with a beard walking down another hallway toward the elevators.

“Don’t get your hopes up, girl,” I told myself. “You’re never this lucky. He’s probably just walking to another hallway. Wearing his jacket. With his lunchbox. Okay. Just don’t stutter. Or make eye contact. Or fall over. Please don’t trip. HE HAS A LUNCHBOX.”

So, I very calmly (maybe with a slight smile on my face), walked to the elevators and punched the button, doing my best to ignore the approaching man.

This was difficult because, as he closer, he only got more attractive. Did I mention he had a beard? A very nice, full, symmetrical beard. Do you know how hard it is to stay upright and gape at someone without them noticing? It’s really difficult.

So, the elevator came, and I hopped on.

“I told you you’re never that lucky,” my brain told me. “But at least he looked nice…”

And then I heard it.

“HEY! Hold the door!”

And what did I do?

Nothing. I just stood there. Cause I’m an idiot.

But, holy cow, his voice. It was like silk or dark chocolate or something. I don’t know… It was gorgeous. It was deep and smooth and wonderful.

Lucky for him, he was really close to the elevator, and he managed to catch it before the door shut.


All those thoughts happened in the moment his foot crossed into my elevator, so, of course, I smiled at him.

“Which floor?” I asked because I’m dumb and that’s the polite thing to do when someone leaps into your elevator.

“HI!” He said enthusiastically. “I’m going to heaven. Where are you going?”

“MARRY HIM!” my brain screamed.

“Not there…” I replied, trying to rein my brain in, but kind of agreeing with it.

“And I hope you’re going to the first floor,” I thought in his general direction. “Cause that’s where this elevator’s headed.”

“Why not?” he asked with a huge smile and laugh. “You look really pretty and nice. Heaven’s the only place for girls like you.”

“Yeah…” I said lamely. “I’ve got too much paperwork tonight for anything close to heaven.”

“HE THINKS YOU’RE PRETTY!!!!” my brain yelled.

“Oh,” he said. He looked at me like I’d just punched his puppy in the throat. And kept looking at me. And kept looking. And then he started to look happier. And it wasn’t as creepy as it sounds.

I felt like we had a real connection and he was about to get down on one knee and propose then and there.

But then the elevator dinged.

We were on the ground floor. I hoped that was where he wanted to go.

My brain was so upset. This was going to be the last time I saw him. When I stepped out of the elevator, our moment was going to be over.

I sighed.

I stepped out of the elevator.

“So, do you want to know why I’m going to heaven?” His beautiful, bearded face appeared right beside and slightly above my head. My brain was screaming happy, incomprehensible things.

“Sure,” I said. It was the only thing I could fit out around my brain screams.

“You see out those doors?” He pointed out the front doors. “That’s not in here. And there’s sunshine out there. And it’s really pretty. And did I mention it’s not in here?” He looked so pleased with himself again.

“Well, enjoy your sunshine,” I said. “It’s supposed to storm tomorrow.” Cause, I mean, how was I supposed to respond to that? Especially when my brain was busy screaming, “I don’t want to do paperwork! Take me with you! I want to be in the sunshine with you and your beautiful face and beard and voice!”

And then we went our separate ways, and I’m never going to see him again. But it was beautiful while it lasted.

And that’s the closest to Grey’s Anatomy my life in the hospital is ever going to get.