Oriana Turley is a BSN/CMSRN and founder of Medicine Mountain Scrub Company. You can find her working long shifts in an orthopedic/neurology unit, building a company from scratch, and exploring the outdoors. She's passionate about nature-propelled sports, sustainability and creating a kinder world. Here's her story of Hope & Heart.
"With heart, emerging strong and settled."
So much of my experience as a human has been defined by the act of showing up day after day —through difficulties and success. I look back through my life and can see very clearly each time I began a new and difficult endeavor. How nervous or scared I was —at times feeling in over my head. But I knew I wouldn’t give up until I moved through those beginning, uncomfortable stages, even if just to see what was on the other side of it.
I remember this feeling, how my body felt, and the phrases I would tell myself to keep going so clearly at times. While this strategy worked for me through my younger years during my endeavors in the mountains, on the rivers, in my personal relationships or academic pursuits —nothing compared to starting my job as a brand new nurse.
It’s like walking into fire every day —willingly, again and again. At times it still feels that way. Your body wants to rebel against you, with stress hormones flooding your system, making your head spin, your heart beat faster, and making your soul tremble a bit from the inside out. There is a lot of intensity in the hospital environment. A lot of deep emotion, a lot of details to keep track of. It can be, even just vibrationally, a very overwhelming place. I vividly remember waking up to my alarm every morning before work, and doing deep breathing exercises on my back in bed before willing myself to get out of bed and face the day. It takes an incredible amount of bravery and heart to walk into a job every day that terrifies you until somehow, through persistence and painful growth, you feel more comfortable.
It is this feeling of strength within yourself that I define as the ultimate success. When you are settled in your soul, and you can move through the fire with determination and purpose.
Now my goal at work is really to focus on supporting my co-workers. Being human is a process, and you have never really arrived. These moments of feeling strong and settled can be fleeting, and it takes so much tenacity and heart to keep going —even if you have a lot of skills or experience in a particular environment. I see and train new nurses at work, and I can see it in their eyes, in their body language. It is this amazing combination of hope and heart that brings them to work every day. It amazes and inspires me to witness this phenomenon so consistently —where humans willingly put themselves in uncomfortable situations over and over and push their personal boundaries in every imaginable way, because they really believe in what they are doing.
This chaotic hospital environment, full of tragedy, death and infuriating circumstances is also full of hope, kindness and heart throughout every day —it has incredible, complex depth which can be so inspiring. As I set off on my new journey as an entrepreneur, which can be overwhelming and difficult, I have this amazing reminder every day that humans, myself included, are capable of doing hard things on purpose, getting better over time and pushing through humility toward those feelings of success. For me, this is the state of feeling strong and settled.
Grace Lownsbery is a registered nurse and clinical instructor in Oregon. You can find her working in the ICU, hiking or kayaking in the beautiful Pacific Northwest and spending time with family and friends. She's passionate about understanding more about how addressing physical, mental and social health in individuals and families can foster stronger and healthier communities as a whole. Here's her story of Hope & Heart.
"Music begins, tears fall, hope rises."
This past year has been relentless. I work in a COVID ICU and have cared for critically ill COVID patients for almost a year now. One thing that really gets to me is the misery of the isolation my patients experience because of their illness. In a 12 hour shift they will usually only see a CNA, an RT, and most often myself as their nurse. The loneliness is acutely felt, and my coworkers and I often feel that we are inadequate as fill-ins for the void of family or friends who would (in normal times) visit the patient and lift their spirits.
I remember one man who was very sick, not yet intubated, but perilously close to it if things did not soon turn in his favor. When I met him, he lay still in a hospital bed, oxygen flowing into his nose, monitor wires and IV tubing on all sides of him. He was a strong man left gasping for air and wheezing out a cough any time he moved. He knew the danger of his situation and was understandably very anxious. I addressed his medical needs, talking a bit as I went, and then prepared to exit his room so he could rest. The whooshing of his oxygen and the rhythmic clicking of a pump were the only sounds that I would leave him with. But before I took off my plastic gown I asked if I could turn on a TV music channel. I wanted to leave him with something that might fill up the oppressive silence in his room. He told me he that would love to listen to a worship music station instead if I had a radio.
Without access to a radio, I suggested we use his phone to stream one. I found a website, pushed play, and the moment the worship music began, his eyes welled up with tears. I grabbed his hand and held on to him as he shook with sobs of relief at the sound of the music. When you have so much PPE on the only part of you that people can see is your eyes, so I looked him in the eye and we cried together.
Eventually, we prayed together, and when I went to leave his room a second time, I think we both had a little more hope for that long night ahead. To my amazement, he slept deeply and comfortably throughout the night and ultimately was able to transfer out of the ICU after several days of intense and careful treatment. I lost track of him from there, but I will never forget that special moment of hope we shared.
Carrie Serritella is a registered nurse in southern California. You can find her caring for patients in the ICU, going for a run or at the beach with her family. Always passionate about helping people improve their health, she started out with a degree in exercise physiology and worked as a personal trainer before going back to school to get her nursing degree. Here's her story of Hope & Heart.
"Having heart to give people hope."
My dad passed away when I was seven years old. He died alone in a hospital. My mom had come home to get some rest and see my brother, sister, and I. He had battled leukemia for a year and my guess is, that he just got tired and let go.
My dad was the reason I made a promise to myself that no patient would die alone, if I had anything to do about it, when I became a nurse 13 years ago.
Never did that promise became more important than this past year.
Working in the ICU is hard, even without a pandemic. Patients are the sickest they have ever been, probably in their whole life. Most of the time when patients take their last breath they have their family with them. My job was to make sure the patient was comfortable, and the family was ready.
As a result of the pandemic, hospitals had to restrict visitors. For me, this was one of the hardest challenges. I’ve not only sat with those with COVID, who have passed away, but also others who were unfortunately in the ICU during a time when no visitors are allowed. It’s been a devastating year.
The promise I made to myself 13 years ago has never been as important as it’s been this past year. I try to give hope to families —it is so incredibly hard for them not to be there. Even if it’s just setting up a zoom call or holding a phone up to the patient's ear so that they can talk or sing to them, it brings a little bit of comfort.