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.