I read a beautiful piece once by a retiring nurse, about all the things her hands had done. Our hands, something we take for granted. When I was pregnant with my first and had terrible carpal tunnel syndrome I briefly experienced how difficult my job was to do without the use of my hands. They were numb. I dropped trays and couldn’t start IVs. I couldn’t even hold a book without pain. It was frustrating but reminded me just how important our hands are to our job.
With mothers day approaching and as we celebrate nursing week I can’t help but see all the ways I used my hands to mother as well. They are how I communicate and perform. They are an extension of my mind and heart and even though I use them a million times a day in a million ways without even thinking today I pause to reflect with gratitude what they allow me to do.
These hands have touched many bodies and just as many lives. They dance even now, funneling the words on my heart into the keys onto the page.
These hands when they were small created art and rubbed tired eyes, they climbed trees and held books. These are the hands that stopped many falls, sacrificing skin to the rocks and cement, bleeding and healing.
They are the hands that shook on the steering wheel while learning to drive and felt clammy holding hands with boys in dark theaters.
They are the hands that filled out exams and applications for university. They are the hands that tore open a letter of acceptance to nursing school while they held an IV of their own because these hands didn’t quite break a rugby fall and the spleen took the hit.
These hands have scrubbed themselves clean a thousand times or more at sinks in every hospital and clinics they traveled to on the journey of learning. They have wrapped arms in blood pressure cuffs and trembled while land marking the correct spot for an injection or palpating the perfect vein for an IV.
They have cramped time and time again dutifully charting all the things they did that day. They have bled when cut with shattered ampules or cracked from dryness. They have held hands with the dying and gently prepared the dead. They have been poked with dirty needles and bled desperate prays that anything contagious would wash away with the blood.
When I look at my hands they are ordinary, short uneven nails, dry cuticles. They show the life of someone to0 busy or uncaring to spend much time on their upkeep but they deserve so much more.
They held the hands of another promising forever and accepting diamonds of promise.
These are the hands that held positive pregnancy tests to show unbelieving eyes. They are the hands that caressed imaginary belly bumps until they became real, they are the hands that massaged lotion into stretched itchy skin and clung to toilet bowls willing the puking to stop.
These hand have caressed the backs of babies in pain, hurt by those who should love them. They have carresed silky heads and held breast full with milk to feed my babies and help others. They have assessed cervixes and big bellies for babies’ positions and progress of labour. They have programed pumps and caught babies who couldn’t wait.
They have held bottles and tubes for countless hours slowly nurturing those born to early, little by little, coaxing them to grow, teaching them to suck, swallow, breath, rubbed backs coaxing out air. The have spread toes of the living and dead to capture perfect tiny toes in ink on paper. They have handed out Kleenex and breast pumps and gentle touches on shoulders and feet, hoping to communicate they are here, here to help.
When I gaze at these ordinary hands and think of all the things they know how to do, the muscle memory, the now comfortable grip on an IV, the perfected gentle stroke to put grumpy toddlers to sleep, I am humbled by how they have served me. I am reminded of the power of touch. These hands have touched countless babies and bodies, performed countless duties and task but I hope that just as these hands have physically reached out time and time again that they have also touched lives just as the hands that have touched my belly and my shoulder have touched mine.
I am reminded of the power of touch. These hands have touched countless babies and bodies, performed countless duties and task, but I hope that just as these hands have physically reached out time and time again that they have also touched lives just as the hands that have touched my belly and my shoulder have touched mine.
These hands perform day after day and today as I sit and use them even to honour them I am grateful for the work they do as a nurse, a wife, a mother and a friend. I forgive them for their messy writing because at least they can write words of encouragement and document hours of work performed. They can stroke hair and hold people tight. They may not be worthy of modelling but maybe this week they are worthy of some care. A scrub, some salve, a little colour to thank them for the hard work they do!