My career in nursing spanned nearly five decades. Every waking day meant I was hostage to ensuring my patients had optimum health outcomes. Every working hour was potentially life threatening to those entrusted in my care.
Armed in my uniform and sensible lace up shoes, I faced the challenge, calmly, with applied courage. And it wasn’t just my patients I had to protect.
During the COVID-19 Pandemic, I was a front-line worker, and I potentially put myself and my precious family at risk.
Thoughts of what could happen to my husband, children, grandchildren and my elderly parents put me into a strangle-hold of resentment and anguish. My retirement became a carrot dangling before the poor donkey’s nose, plodding slowly, hungrily, and without stumble, to the ultimate desire of contentment.
The retirement date arrived and I put aside the uniform and sensible shoes.
As a retiree, my husband’s and my first road-trip was to NSW, to visit his mother’s grave and his three brothers and their wives.
That night while dining at the golf club, there was a disturbance at one table. The mother of an eight-month-old baby suddenly panicked. The father stood up pounding the baby on her back. Concerned, we watched on while the father tried to stop the baby from choking. His efforts were failing. The baby turned blue and became limp.
“Please help me,” he pleaded.
It was a slow-moving cinematography, where all the characters are frozen in time, except for the running father and the limp baby over his arms.
My sister-in-law called out “Kathy, help him! You’re a nurse!”
The old fear flooded back, and the courage I had retired crept into play. Could I save this child? Would I be found wanting, fearfully acknowledging that I wasn’t in a hospital environment with staff and resuscitation equipment around me?
Suddenly the baby’s eyes locked onto mine. My legs moved into action and I rushed to the father’s side, seemingly with confidence brimming.
My training took over, and I placed my hands on top of the father’s. With a downward motion, we spiralled the baby’s head down, and I gave the baby three resounding smacks on her back between her shoulder blades with a Heimlich Manoeuvre. She immediately started to cry, gulping in large breaths. Then someone remembered to phone the ambulance.
On seeing me, the baby’s face lit into smiles.
But I had no thanks from the parents. No verbal reward for saving their daughter.
Such is the unrewarding accolade for mustering one’s courage. Such is nursing.