Friday, March 7, 2014

Feeling Comfy?

Post by Lily Harlem

Comfort is vitally important to all of us, we all like to feel physically and emotionally comfortable. However, for some professionals, such as nurses, the responsibility for other peoples' comfort becomes part of day-to-day life.

Many of you know that before I put pen to paper I nursed in London, UK. I loved my job and took great pride in the fact that my knowledge and experience could promote comfort for patients going through very uncomfortable experiences, be it acute or chronic. I remember in particular one patient, a young woman who was in terrible pain post surgery. She didn't know what to do with herself, how to lie, whether to cry or stay frozen still, it really wrenched my heart. I went through her medication, tweaked and fiddled as nurses do, and promised her, actually promised her that I wouldn't leave her until she was comfortable. She looked at me and said 'you can't promise that,' and I said 'I can and I am'. It was a risky move on my behalf, I had a train to catch after shift to travel north and see family, but I absolutely knew that I could make a difference. I also knew that I wouldn't rest until my patient was.

To cut a long story short, I made my train and left my patient feeling perfectly fine - sitting up in bed, smiling and sipping on a cup of tea. I'm sure there were many elements and dynamics at play between us that day. My absolute resolution, her belief in me plus my experience in the surgical field and in particular her type of surgery.

I miss nursing, I miss being able to make a difference in peoples' lives when they're going through a tough time. But I've drawn on characters and situations I came across in hospital in two of my books - Breathe You In, Confessions of a Naughty Night Nurse - and whenever I do, I remember what a huge part of my role providing comfort was.


  1. Having had both a liver transplant and a triple bypass within the last ten years, I can say from experience that you guys are the true epitome of saints. I don't know how people can put in the hours you did (not to mention the pain and grief you're exposed to) and still be civil and compassionate to those in need. Must take a strong person.

  2. Nurses are wonderful. I'm not sure I like the fairly new trend of saying "you may feel some discomfort" though, but I suppose actually calling it pain can make the brain more inclined to feel it as such.

  3. I think your attitude probably did at least as much good as whatever drugs you managed to get her.

    Fear and uncertainty can make pain all the worse.

    And I have to second Daddy X - I have the deepest admiration for people who take on a harrowing job like nursing.

  4. That's an inspiring story, Lily. You've seen people at their most vulnerable and you've found ways to help them. That must be good fuel for your writing.

  5. Look at it this way: you used to alleviate the physical pain folks in hospitals felt. Now your stories help readers escape reality to another zone. They can temporarily forget their problems while enthralled by your words. Just another form of providing comfort.

  6. Thanks for all of these lovely comments. I've been at Eroticon - - for the weekend so couldn't catch up with you all, but reading them now is fab.

    Daddy, it sounds like you've been through a lot but come out of the other side X

    Sachi and Lisabet, I suppose word-play is important in nursing. It's also good to know what to expect in terms of trusting someone the next time something is going to happen.

    Jean and Fiona, my two decades of nursing certainly provides material now. I love Fiona's way of looking at my stories as still providing comfort. I'm a true nurturer at heart whether it's people or animals - I keep collecting waifs and strays!

  7. Thanks for the post! I will never forget the voice of the nurse who was helping me one night I stayed at a hospital. I'd been suffering for over a week and hadn't slept pretty much the whole time, and her presence was the first comfort I'd felt in a while. It was incredible to sleep and feel cared for. It's amazing work that nurses do.