Gloria Littlemouse shared with me her passion for providing palliative and comfort care to our patients. I was greatly moved by Gloria’s empathy, compassion, and the humility that is physically visible in her eyes and the expressions on Gloria’s face when she talks about caring for her patients. It’s moments like this that remind me clearly that nursing is a privilege and a calling.
Gloria told me about one of her patients who was morbidly obese. Unfortunately, the patient did not have any family locally; she did not have any visitors. The patient required sedation and mechanical ventilation due to Pulmonary Edema. Gloria shared with tears in her eyes that the other nurses did not want to take care of this patient due to her size which motivated her to volunteer to take care of her each time she worked. Gloria stated that each time she walked into the room the patient would give her a smile. The patient was in ICU for 2 months.
With a patient being intubated plus sedated, Gloria described how she would sit at the bedside and talk to the patient in a soft tone of voice while holding her hand, and optimized the opportunities to provide moments of healing touch that included the back rubs and massages. In Gloria’s words: I wanted her to know that she was not alone, I wanted to provide comfort and make sure that we maintained her dignity.
Gloria shared that each time she would turn the patient or ask if she was comfortable, she could see the patients eyes moisten with tears of appreciation. Then one day when Gloria arrived to work ready to care for her patient, the patient was struggling with her breathing and with her hemodynamics. Gloria gently whispered in the patient’s ear with tears in her eyes and rubbing the patient’s hand said: “it's ok, you don’t have to struggle anymore, it’s okay to be at peace, and you are not alone”.
It’s easy to see and sense the residual connection of the bond that was created between Gloria and the patient. I am honored to have a nurse like Gloria who understands that life is precious, that every patient deserves to have the comfort and to have the dignity maintained throughout hospitalization through to death, which is all a part of why we have been called to nursing. Gloria is the epitome of nursing care not always being about the nursing tasks but it must always involve the heart.