These days I find myself looking back at my career choices and job choices over the years. One thing I can say is, I have been very happy in both the professions of nursing and social work.
If I had to choose my very favorite position it would be one that I held at New York University Medical Center in the late 70’s. Academic nursing and medicine at a center like NYU is always hectic and “cutting edge”. You are surrounded by very the sickest of the sick and many times the illnesses are downright mysterious.
The job that I was recruited to take on was that of Head Nurse of Adolescent Pediatrics aka. Nurse Manager
Adolescent pediatrics at a teaching hospital is many times very heart wrenching. It is just not fair when a teenager dies of cancer or a brain tumor that just will not give in to treatment. You feel the failure when you could not save a young body from the ravages of these ugly illnesses.
But you know that you did give them all you had…it just wasn’t enough. Many evenings I joined the staff at the local bar to drown some of my sorrow for a family who had lost a child.
There was one girl that I can never forget …. she was quadriplegic from a winter car accident on an icy road.
At night, I would walk by her room seeing her staring at the ceiling in the dark and in the silence…unable to move….I would wonder what was going through her mind….I was not much older than she was at the time. She had not yet been told her prognosis….never to move her limbs again. She was only 16…
Yes this was my favorite job…it was the best of all the rest.
These children taught me at a young age the fragility of life….and my lack of power over it. I learned how to cry with parents, when their “baby” died. I learned that nothing I could say would ease their horrific sorrow. It was just not possible. A child just should not die before his parents…it is just wrong…but it happens anyway. I learned you can do your best and still feel that you are a failure at times.
I learned the serenity prayer…
“God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.
Living one day at a time;
Enjoying one moment at a time.”