Sticky Fingers: A Reflection
These hands… I walked into work today and as I came up the stairs, there they were: a pair of sticky hand prints on an otherwise clean elevator door. They struck me. I thought, “How sweet.” Chris, a Patient Advocate, was there too, and together we looked at them and smiled. “How adorable, I hope they don’t wipe them off,” she said. I couldn’t help but take a picture of them, and we went on about our day, but I couldn’t stop thinking about those little sticky fingers.
A child came to our hospital, thinking, “Where am I going?” “What will happen?” “Will they be nice to me?” “Will it hurt?” “Where will my mommy and daddy be?” These seemingly minor questions are easily answered by us, but not by the 5-year-old who comes to us for help. A little boy or girl walked into this enormous building with bright lights and pretty colors, TVs and toys, gowns, beds that roll, people with weird clothes that look the same, and must have had so many more questions. “Why do they wear those silly blue caps?” “Why do I have to change my clothes?” “Why can’t I eat breakfast? My tummy is grumbling.” “Look at those buttons… can I press them? What will happen if I touch that?”
We also come to work every day thinking, “What will be in store for us?” We hope that day will go smoothly. We hope that it will be uneventful. We hold this hope because if it is anything more, there will be crisis — for seconds, minutes, or hours, it doesn’t matter. Crisis makes our day “eventful”. Eventful days can be interesting and a learning experience, but they can also be stressful, exhausting, or even heartbreaking, and we don’t know which kind of “eventful” we might be walking into that day. We walk on to our units hearing the bells and whistles, washing our hands over and over again until they are red, pushing equipment and people down the hallways with the bright lights and pretty colors, wondering things like, “When will I eat lunch?” “When will I get my numbers written down?” “Who needs my help first?” “Who needs my help the least?” “When can I go home?”
I can imagine the face attached to the little sticky fingers pressing on the cold metal and looking upward, waiting for something to happen, waiting to go somewhere, waiting to get something done.
We look up when we reach these metal doors too, waiting for them to move, waiting to go up or down, and waiting to get something done. If only we could come to this place every day with the wonder and amazement of the child that put those sticky fingers on this door. The fact is, every day that we come here to work we have the same emotions as this child. We are wondering what our day will be like, if people will be nice to us, if we will get to eat, it is will hurt, if it will be hard. We are all the same, and even in our differences we are wondrous beings whether we are big or small. May we care for each other every day with the knowledge that we all walk around with questions and wonder about what the day holds, what the experience will be, and that we all are scared of the unknown, just like the child, I imagine, that was attached to these adorable little sticky fingers. – Amy Cratty, RN, OR staff nurse