Energy. A word I never thought would mean so much to me as a nurse.
When I became a nurse, like so many others I just wanted to help people. As my career became enriched by the amazing people I worked with and my study of holistic nursing deepened; I always felt there was more to this nursing thing. More than passing meds and the basic bedside care.
My shift in my understanding toward Energy began about 15 years ago when I first started studying and practicing Reiki. It was then that Energy began to mean more to me than “the capacity of acting or being active” and I started looking at it as “a usually positive and spiritual force.”
As a new nurse, I wanted my patients well cared for and my paperwork completed; hopefully so I could leave on time. I also knew which shifts would be better, based on the nurses I was scheduled to work with. I worked nights for almost 10 years. A night could be a great one, if I was working the right people. Night nurses, in my experience, are a unique breed. They sleep when the sun is out, they function on caffeine and adrenaline more than anyone I have ever met.
That being said, the ‘energy’ of a night shift is much different from the ‘energy’ of a day shift.
It was then, working those night shifts that I unconsciously made a real shift within myself about energy. Looking back on those years working nights I wonder if the energy of those nurses was so off at times from pure exhaustion. I started working only with certain people and had more good nights than bad. Finally, I went to the day shift and had even better shifts!
There were many more people present on the day shift, than were on nights; generating so much more ENERGY.
Reiki helped me open up, and an awareness of acknowledging specific energies helped guide my navigation of each shift, each coworker, each patient.
Since studying holistic nursing, it has confirmed everything. We are all connected. We are all energy. And, we all can affect each other, just by a look or words or action.
The dance we all participate in on a unit is based on the energy we all bring onto the floor that day…are you in a bad mood or a good mood? I will say it again, we all are energy.
An example of energy being a “positive spiritual force.”
Recently a woman named Rhonda was patient on our floor. She was deaf in her left ear and almost completely deaf in her right ear. She had a benign brain tumor. As a result of her surgery to remove that tumor, she lost her sight. Then she had a stroke. She had walked into our hospital. After her surgery she could not see, was almost completely deaf and could not move normally. A few nurses did not want to care for Rhonda. She was combative at times and had hit a few people. Two nurses, Alicia and Kelsey, both 24 years old were her primary nurses. These girls made it their goal to find a way to communicate with Rhonda. They found that music helped to calm her, holding her hand when yelling into her right ear was the only way for Rhonda to understand what was going on.
Rhonda was from Kansas. Her family brought her to Boston for surgery. They spent a few weeks with her, but because of her complications they had to return home. Rhonda was alone. She had only the use of her right side. She was blind.
I had been on vacation when Rhonda first came to our floor. I never took care of her. Kelsey approached me and asked me to give Rhonda Reiki.
“She is agitated and I don’t want to just medicate her, please give her Reiki.”
So, I did. I sat with Rhonda with classical music blasting in her good ear. I put one hand on her head and the other she held so tightly my fingers went numb. She fell asleep. I made a point of giving Reiki to Rhonda whenever I worked.
Then a few days later Rhonda needed a new IV. She did not like being restrained. I was not working, Kelsey was working. She later told me, “Kim, I just put my hands on her and held her head and her hand and thought about Reiki.” Rhonda stayed calm enough for that new IV to be placed.
Rhonda could not see. She could barely hear. But she could sense and feel the ENERGY of those around her. Our experience with Rhonda taught us that nursing is so much more than medications and paperwork. Kelsey and Alicia saw Rhonda for the person she was at that time. They found ways to communicate with her. They found ways to care for Rhonda and respect her condition. They holistically cared for Rhonda and respected her as a person, not the “neuro patient in room 14.”
I believe that Rhonda could sense the Energy of the people who cared for her. Kelsey was not giving Rhonda Reiki that day…she was sending her positive energy and Rhonda responded to that energy.
As nurses we touch people every day. As energy beings we can affect those around us with even a smile, or a gentle touch. Kelsey and Alicia connected with Rhonda’s energy and she sensed theirs. What an amazing gift we can give as nurses!
Definition of ENERGY (Merriam-Webster)
a : dynamic quality
b : the capacity of acting or being active
c : a usually positive spiritual force
: vigorous exertion of power : EFFORT
: a fundamental entity of nature that is transferred between parts of a system in the production of physical change within the system and usually regarded as the capacity for doing work
: usable power (as heat or electricity); also : the resources for producing such power.