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There’s “Moore” to this disaster than I realized…

May 21, 2013

heart in handsLike you, I have, as a distant observer, been deeply affected by this week’s tornado and its aftermath in Moore, Oklahoma. The television reporters and their stories have created a continual hum in my house. Every once in awhile one actually draws my attention and I turn the volume up and pause to watch and listen. There were several stories reported that made me pause today.

There was the reporter at the bedside of a teacher with spinal injuries and a fractured breast bone. She was gentle in her questioning. Listening attentively as the teacher recounted the terror of the ordeal and the profound sorrow she felt having lost seven of elementary school students. She laid in bed on her back unable to move from right to left, unable to lift her arms she stared at the sealing as she spoke. The tears welled in her eyes and slowly pooled before gently rolling down her cheek. I myself welled up with tears.

There was the elderly woman standing in the rubble that was her home recounting taking shelter in a bathroom with her beloved dog. Now alone and amazed at her own survival she speaks about her experience with a reporter. As she describes the events she is most concerned and sad in the belief that  her dog is forever lost and expresses her desire to simply find him. As this painful story unfolds on camera, a voice off-camera can be heard saying “the dog…there’s the dog!” and with that the camera pans to find the dog slightly visible under a large piece of metal – and he’s alive! The joy of that moment came right through the television as the elderly woman reaches to remove the rubble and free her beloved dog. The camera clearly captures her looking off camera and asking – “help me, please!” as she struggles to move the debris. Again, I welled up with tears.

Thinking back on these two experiences I found myself asking an interesting question: if nursing is a described as a helping profession, could the reporter talking supportively with the injured teacher and the reporter who was assisting the woman remove the debris entrapping her dog be considered “citizen nurses”? They were exhibiting some of the qualities we associated with nurses. Or do nurses have not just these helping instincts, but something more?

After much thought, I realized that nurses are different. If I had not known these were reporters in each story and had to decide whether the person was a reporter or a nurse, could I? YES! I could. Let me tell you how I could tell the difference.

The reporter in supportive conversation with the teacher would have sought to be closer to the teacher holding her hand as they spoke and gently dabbing her pooling tears. She would have anticipated this most basic need to use a special sense to convey support and caring.

In the second story, the person off-camera being asked by the woman to help was clearly not a nurse. A nurse would not have needed to be asked to help, but would have sensed the limitations of the elderly woman and intervened.

You see, a lot of people do great and deeply touching nurse-like things and as a society we are eternally grateful, as are the people of Moore, Oklahoma. But a “nurse” is a very special person who goes a little bit further and uses a “sixth sense” that only “nurses” possess – the sense of oneness with the patient.

I am thankful for the “citizen nurses” in Moore, Oklahoma and forever appreciative of what they have enabled me to articulate in this blog post is a unique quality of a “Professional Nurse”. For all those who take the Time to Care, whether unexpectedly in a time of crisis or routinely as part of one’s life work, the human spirit is uplifted by what you do!


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