a nurse's story

In my work as a licensed vocational nurse (LVN), I was assigned to keep watch over a veteran with Huntington’s disease chorea (involuntary, irregular, unpredictable muscle movements), who uses a wheelchair. She had some behavioral symptoms, doesn’t speak much, and was a suicide risk. As an LVN, keeping an eye on someone isn’t exactly my job, but instead of feeling down, degraded and sorry for myself, I have chosen to find the best in this assignment.

Bathing is a big challenge for this person because she feels cold all the time. Bed baths are the only acceptable means of hygiene. I began to tell her on bath days, that “it’s spa day.” I add lavender essential oil to the bath water. I keep her covered with warm clothes as I wash her and keep telling her that it’s spa day. I wash her hair with a rinseless shampoo cap. Since it’s spa day, after she brushes her teeth, I apply face cream on her face, her arms and massage her hands, then put knitted gloves on them to keep her warm. Spa day means nail care and makeup. She chooses the eye shadow and nail color.

One day, she smiled and said the clearest sentence, “Thank you! Thank you!” And it made my heart overwhelmed with joy.

— Eva Rivera

[This] isn’t exactly my job, but instead of feeling down, degraded and sorry for myself, I have chosen to find the best in this assignment.