‘I remember his name, I remember his face, but most of all, I remember his scream.’: Nurse says healthcare professionals have a ‘different kind of resilience, ‘They are superheroes, in every sense of the word’

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“I thought I knew what pain was, I was wrong. I thought I knew that working in the medical field could be hard, I had no idea what I was about to learn. As I stepped into the room that day, I experienced something I never could have prepared myself for.

I remember his name, I remember his face, but most of all, I remember his scream. The look of absolute misery on his face, the way the tears streamed down his cheeks, the way his eyes pleaded with us to stop. His scream, his last desperate plea for the pain to end, for his only way of letting us know that he needed something more than our help.

His cry filled my ears, as I helped hold him down while we took care of him. It was necessary, needed, and yet, so horrible. I had tears in my eyes, and pain in my heart. Knowing that he needed this done, and knowing that it felt like torture to him, but a necessary evil. Realizing that sometimes you have to help hurt, in order to help heal. I went home that day, my thoughts filled with the sound of his scream, wondering how I was going to come back tomorrow, and deal with it all again.

Courtesy of Kirsten Buttars

I was astounded, seeing that his pain didn’t affect anyone to the extent it did me. I didn’t understand. Was I too mushy, too soft? Would I be able to survive there? And then one day, I got it.

One day, I held another baby down, as they screamed, so the nurse could do what she needed to. I saw tears in her eyes, rolling down her cheek. I saw the way she pleaded with me, with her soul. And I realized that we weren’t immune to her suffering, but rather, we were used to it.

Their pain, their sorrow, their struggles, had become a part of me. Somewhere along the line of my work, I realized that I had grown accustomed to hearing, seeing, feeling pain. Somewhere along the line of helping them, I learned to accept the necessary evil of causing a little pain, to relieve a lot of pain.

Their screams still bother me as much as they did that first day, and yet, somehow, I am used to it. It pains my heart, and yet, makes it stronger, allows me to do my job. Because they need me. I can still hear his screams in my sleep, but I can see his smile too.

There’s something special about nurses or nursing assistants. Something special about everyone who works in healthcare. Something that you only see if you’re in healthcare, or if you’re sick. There’s a different kind of resilience, a kind that perseveres regardless of situation, emotions, or fears. It’s something that your average Joe won’t notice, but everyone who works with it does.

They are superheroes, in every sense of the word.”

Courtesy of Kirsten Buttars

This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Kirsten Buttars, a CNA who works for a children’s hospital in Utah. Do you have a similar experience? We’d like to hear your important journey. Submit your own story here. Be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories, and YouTube for our best videos.

Read more powerful stories from nurses:

‘I couldn’t focus on anything but this infant lying still in the bed. Stressed? Not the word.’: Nurse-in-training ‘overwhelmed’ by responsibilities, realizes keeping ‘peace’ is most important for the family

‘I put you in your mom’s arms so you could be snuggled while you drifted off to sleep. I hid behind the curtain and shed silent tears. I still hear the echo of, ‘I’m so sorry, but he is gone.’

‘Do you want to tell me about her?’ I will never forget the way you leaned in, just like we were friends, and asked me about Dorothy.

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