One side of my ward has been affectionately referred to as "long term care." This is where I keep mostly the low-care patients or ones that have been here for a few weeks. There are also the random ones that have just had surgery but are from a different specialty. The differences between the two sides of the ward are striking though. The "long-term care" is on the right, and the general surgery patients are on the left of a dividing wall. On the left is all adults, mostly men, all acute care for patients who just had surgery, or patients awaiting surgery. On the right is children with caregivers, child-made decorations hanging from any available surface (among which include paper lanterns and paper chains that make the ward look like we're in the midst of a celebration!). The patients on the left side are barely getting to know us by the time we send them home. The patients on the right call out our names and beckon us over as soon as we arrive in the room.
I peeked into the ward today after hours, and immediately heard variations of my name being called out. "Edda", "Ada", "He-der" etc. They want attention, to play, to tell me something, to tease... it doesn't really matter. There's just something so special about these ones that we get to know more intimately. I spent time this afternoon teaching english body parts names. The day before we were working on numbers that are best taught by playing games where you count. I had the hilarity of one of my friends calling my favorite little man "trouble maker"... this boy is a parrot who knows almost no english, he copied her but it sounded nothing at all like english. So I got him to copy me until he got it right, and then he pointed at me, changed "trouble" to "Ada" (his version of my name), and said "Ada-maker"... not sure what he thinks it means! He then pointed at other nurses and counted off how many "Ada-maker"'s there were. :D He cracks me up!
Sure, there are serious moments, stressful moments, dressing changes, meds and vitals. There are sad times and ones I wish I could forget. But somehow, these moments with my "long-term care" kiddos, they make it all worth it. Teaching a child that it's okay to let us touch his dressing. Spending time playing a game that has a bonus of helping them learn some english. Being greeted by smiles and greetings. It's different than at home.
Walking down the hallway to see a 3 year old in bilateral casts learning to walk again on straight legs... and having him reach out to walk to me (I think in hopes of cuddles or a ride back to his ward!)... unforgettable. Knowing that when I sign up to donate blood, I'll actually know who it goes to and see the difference it makes...astounding. Seeing the disbelief on a face as the first dressing is removed after sugery... priceless. Walking into a ward and being greeted by name by a group of kids who are happy to see you...home.