I remember my first days working in dialysis. The patient treatment area was crowded with equipment, supplies, and center staff as well as 25 patients who each needed something from me. There was so much going on, I felt I’d never keep up. In the coming years, I would learn many things, including how to live with achy feet.
With experience, I became more relaxed and collected. Being aware of every second that goes by, attending and managing the health of not just “my patients,” but also every patient in the facility. What once seemed like chaos, I soon realized, was more like a symphony.
Over time, I’ve learned a number of lessons from the patients and staff I’ve worked with. The most important lesson was empathy and, for that, I have to thank ‘Grandma B’.
Of course, Grandma B is not her ‘real’ name, but it was the one she earned through the love and affection she gave both to the staff at our center and to her fellow patients.
Etched in my memory is her annual Christmas tradition. With the help first of a cane, then a walker and finally a wheelchair, Grandma carefully dropped a little something in each of the staff’s stockings the week before Christmas year after year.
One Christmas, her gift to us was different than in the past. It was something handmade from yarn. Each gift was unique and something that, given her age, health, and fragility, must have take hours to make.
I always think that, with her gift, Grandma B reminded each of us how important and meaningful it can be to give more than what is required. Her extra effort, time, and thoughtfulness meant so much more than any store bought gift. Her gift included a little of her spirit invested over a long period of time in return for the compassionate, quality care we had given her over the years.
I am so grateful to have known Grandma B. She was truly a blessing and an honor to care for. With many other patients who touched my heart, she has given me so much more than I ever thought possible. The relationships we build with these precious patients are why I’m a dialysis technician.
Joseph Fernandez III is a Certified Clinical Hemodialysis Technician with Satellite Healthcare in Ceres/Modesto, California. He also serves as a Regional Wellness Advocate and Satellite Employee Advisory Team Mentor, helping leadership shape vision to make life better for those living with kidney disease.