Humanist, Nursing Stories
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Nursing Stories: Bedside lessons from the dying

In my role as a Registered Nurse there are many stories that have shaped my existence as a human. There was a woman named Yvette who would not accept Home Care nursing services and she was referred to me under the auspices of “Carl this lady is in bad shape and no one has been able to make inroads, can you see if you can persuade her to let us help her? Her daughter is stressed and can’t do what is needed with her care”. Yvette had Kidney cancer and had nephrostomy tubes and was palliative (she was going to die within a short period of time). When I met Yvette she wouldn’t let me past her door chain. She asked me what I wanted and I told her that I was a home care nurse and I understood she didn’t need me, and I was just there to irrigate her tubes and I promised I wouldn’t expect any conversation with her. After a minute the chain dropped and she let me in. She told me she didn’t need anyone and I told her I agreed with her. I said I was just there to fix her tubes. The second visit she let me in and I asked her what was important to her and she told me her daughter was important. I noticed she was very week and very proud. I asked her if she wanted me to comb her hair for her daughters visit and she said yes but “I don’t need a nurse” she said, and I agreed. I told her I would only do her hair. The third visit changed everything as she asked me to sit on the edge of her bed and she shared that her husband had given her Ovarian cancer and as a result of infidelity, she contracted HPV. He was the only man she was with. She told me an amazing story about her journey in France as a nun and how she met her husband. She was French. She was ashamed as embarrassed. I grabbed her hand and listened. She started to cry. I left thinking that I had just had “one of those moments” where someone has shared a personal treasure. The remaining visits were about her asking me to help her. It became one of my favourite visits and we talked lots while I was changing her tubes and cleaning her up. One day I got called that Yvette was on the Palliative unit and her daughter said, in between consciousness, Yvette had asked for me. I arrived at her bedside and she was in a coma. I remember the moment when I was holding her hand and she squeezed it as hard as she could and tears were coming from her eyes that were shut. I sat with her for 2 hours. The next day her daughter phoned me to tell me her Mother had passed and left me a few mementos. I shared that I couldn’t take them as my relationship with her mom was amazing and it was a gift unto itself. This gift is being shared now. The lesson is to never judge a book by its cover and always know there is beauty in everyone.

This entry was posted in: Humanist, Nursing Stories


I was born in Prince Rupert, BC and I grew up in Port Coquitlam, BC within metro Vancouver. I was a non-conventional boy winning awards for choreography, dance, and led many school performance numbers before grade 6. I also competed as a figure skater and was notorious for doing cart wheels on the ice. I was bullied all through my school years and ended up going to 3 different High Schools and didn't graduate as a result. This was the era of no Gay Rights in Canada. I struggled with visibility, identity and self-esteem. I am one of the lucky survivors as most of my friends died of AIDS or committed suicide. I graduated as a Registered Nurse in 1993 and it was the proudest achievement in my life. It taught me that despite hardships, I could overcome insurmountable challenges. I am committed to making the world more compassionate and doing my part by celebrating LGBTQ contributions to the world. In 2014 I responded to a call to sponsor two Syrian Gay refugees to come to Canada. This launched the beginning of a national Charity called the Rainbow Foundation of Hope. I was the founding President. n my professional life, I am a Registered Nurse and a Healthcare Executive. I live with my husband and our dog Rocky in Penticton BC


  1. john crossen says

    never knew why i liked you so much but this explains it…. you’re a good soul dear…. an inspiration to reckoned with!!
    And you look fabulous in pumps!!

    Liked by 1 person

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