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Serving: IL

Why Be A Nurse When You're A Farmer

Sheilah shares moments from a nursing day at the bedside of a dying dairy farmer.

Mike: Sheilah now has only one more semester of nursing classes to become a nurse. She clearly has the heart for it.

Sheilah: People are always asking why I want to be a nurse when I love the outdoors and farming so much. I don’t always have an answer. There are days I don’t know myself.

Then there are days when I know it’s what God wants me to do – days like when I saw the flower. It started off as a typical clinical day – driving to the hospital, meeting my classmates and waiting for my patient assignment.

I was told that my patient had decided he wanted nothing further done. The man only wanted to be kept comfortable as he waited to die, and I was to do what I could to keep him pain-free.

This wasn’t my first patient like this. Though it was sad, I didn’t think much about it at first. I got what I needed and headed into the room.

I introduced myself and started my assessment. He told me he didn’t care who I was, and said he didn’t like it in there. He just wanted ice chips and to die.

A fresh start

His attitude wasn’t good enough for me. So I put on my best smile, then noticed the flower at his bedside. “That’s a beautiful flower you have there,” I said.

That moment changed everything.  “I planted it,” was all he said.

“You like to plant things?” I asked.

“I like to watch God give life to seeds and make them grow,” he replied.

In that moment, I knew exactly why this man didn’t “like it in here.” And, I knew what he had done for a living. But I asked anyway: “What did you do for a living?” Sure enough, he was a dairy farmer.

I told him I grew up on a dairy farm, and now live on a grain farm. I spent the rest of the day talking with him when he was able and feeding him his ice chips.

He told me how he gave his daughter a Jersey cow for a 4-H project. And I told him how my niece and nephew had just shown calves for the first time.

When I asked if he liked fixing fences, he told me it was the worst chore ever created. Then he told me how he met his wife. I asked what it was like to live in the 1940s and 50s. "Much simpler" was his response.

His wife came in around lunch time. When she heard our conversation, she broke into a smile. Before I left that I day, I told them both goodbye.

The man apologized for being grumpy at first, and I quickly responded there was no need to do so. Then he said: “Thank you. You spent all day with me reminiscing. It was wonderful.”

It’s not often I cry on my way home; I did that day. We’re taught that certain patients will always stick with you. This farmer will – him and his flower.

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