“Happy trails to you, ’till we meet again” – Dale Evans
Can a child ever have enough stuffed animals? Everyone, including us bought our daughter endearing stuffed toys that were soft and cuddly. Of course there were those that the baby has to have next to them so they can fall asleep. I remember one time while working in the hospital that a family drove over an hour to visit their father that happened to be one of my patients. I received the panicked phone call around 10:00PM, “Could you please check my father’s bed because our daughter left Ellie with Papa, Ellie is our daughter’s stuffed elephant?” Turns out when they left Papa’s room to get a snack, their daughter had put Ellie under the covers so Papa wouldn’t get lonely until they returned, but then she had forgotten about it. A very tired daddy drove all the way back to the hospital so his baby girl could go to sleep peacefully. As our own daughter grew older, I would try to negotiate with her. When she would ask for a new stuffed animal I would try the one in one out rule; however for this to be effective enough to clear a path to her bed, it really should be the one in ten out rule. As she’s older and needs to get to her desk and dresser more often, I told her getting rid of her pony, Butterscotch would be helpful and she would be able to see her One Direction posters.
Santa brought our daughter this magical stuffed horse when she was four years old. She could barely get atop Butterscotch, which was about the size of a real life pony. I’ll never forget when my husband hit the on switch and Butterscotch came alive, turning his head towards whoever was petting him. When our daughter fed him a fake carrot he made horse chomping sounds. It was a common sight to see our daughter with her pink cowgirl hat and Butterscotch watching TV together. But now that pony was taking up a lot of real estate in her room. I finally was able to get her to agree that it was time for Butterscotch to mosey on down the road.
So I moved Butterscotch to the garage to place him with next week’s trash pickup. Every time I would leave in my car, as the garage door would be closing, there stood Butterscotch, just looking at me. I thought great, after three years I was finally able to get our daughter to say goodbye to Butterscotch and now I am the one having the problem. My husband is now thinking I am insane when he sees tears in my eyes when the car is pulling out of the driveway. I asked him, “Are we sure we don’t know anyone that would make Butterscotch a good home?” He reminded me that a buddy of his has a three year old girl and they are expecting a boy. My hero! Butterscotch now has a new home and our daughter has one less stuffed animal. Now only one hundred and fifty three to go…
Not all of our patients get well and for some nurses, helping family members through that final goodbye is difficult and uncomfortable. And then, there are those nurses that have devoted their lives to hospice. Some nurses are better suited for the adrenaline rush of the ER, others are a better fit for administration. We all know where we are comfortable and we know those things that take us out of our comfort zone. Give yourself permission to not be a nurse superhero; you don’t need to be the best at everything in every situation.