by Paula Manuel Staff Nurse Interest Group

Passages of Time

This is a salute to colleagues who have died at the prime of life and it makes you stop and consider what your life is about.

Currently I’m between positions since August I have been resting, golfing, and taken up aquafit. As the weeks go by and I focus on my branding, network with colleagues, recruiters, and career counsellors, this evening will be special. Dinner with a number of managers from my previous agency to dine, enjoy some wine, have some laughs etc.

Through the years, loss is one of those themes that as a nurse I have had to navigate through. Losing someone whether a few hours, few months, few years was the nature of my practice. When it is a colleague, the rap of mortality gets quite strong and as I consider life, the past has truly passed and I consider some of those who are gone.

A nursing colleague to cancer a bon vivant who truly was a pillar of light, a laugh that carried down the hallway, a positive outlook and a tough spell when the diagnosis was confirmed. Hey hey Paula was her usual greeting and it was poignant to know that her voice had stilled; and her family would have to go forward without her, our world lost a great soul.

Another colleague who had left my first agency to work in a community hospital left an indelible presence. A former OR nurse she was brassy, assertive, funny, and one of the few who knew how to make the cautery device work instantly. Her death left many grieving for the nurse who once observed “what..nothing is changing…like the Titanic they have only rearranged the deck chairs!” As we paid respects her family shared that everything had been arranged by the lady herself, lipstick colour to the scrubs to be worn by her colleagues to her service. Detail oriented she left nothing to chance, she was light and sarcasm with generous portions of both.

Two physicians I had the privilege to work with have also now passed while in the prime of their careers as intensivists and researchers. Both were smart, skilled, and both highly regarded for their research.

One was Irish in nature and humour, he challenged and he supported and I am grateful for his kindness when going through my own challenges. He challenged the status quo, in that he questioned evidence-based medicine, he was knowledgeable about lung injury, ventilation, he was a skilled clinician, mentor to many and a ethically sound individual. He could supportively communicate “bad news” in a way that families could grasp the situations. His rounds would entertain and horrify as he wielded his wit to make a point, and sometimes time had to pass to recognize how much you had been insulted–all in the pursuit of excellence in care.

The other physician I knew from her rotation as a Fellow to Staff Intensivist she had battled the big “C” and won the first round. Her determination and strength was also drawn from her culture, family and her smarts. She had also chosen demanding research topics such as simulation training for staff to acquire knowledge and skills during paediatric resuscitation, rapid response teams effectiveness in paediatric academic centres, and she obtained a Masters degree in education. She was a physician who demonstrated compassion, humour, and a unique fashion sense.

To all who have had similar experiences with colleagues take some time to remember them and consider this Irish thought

Go raibh Maith Agat Mo Chara – thank you dear friend. We are all better for the time you spent with us.”

Namaste

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