Nutrition Support Blog: It’s a Wonderful Life
It’s that time of the year again when I get to watch the movie, “It’s a Wonderful Life” – the story of how George Bailey, frustrated by not ever realizing his dreams, is given the gift of being able to see what the world would be like if he was never born: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0038650/
I never get tired of that movie, and love the messages in it. Even though he never traveled the world over, or built the skyscrapers, airfields and epic bridges he envisioned, George learns that his life mattered - and the small day-to-day things that made him crazy (like a never-repaired stairway railing) were trivial compared to what was really important.
I think that those of us who work in healthcare receive this type of gift of perspective on a regular basis. We may have things that frustrate us, but we realize that any day that we are not a patient – well, it just can’t really be all that bad. I also think that nutrition support professionals share something else with George Bailey – we are not always able to see everything that we accomplish, even though what we do matters.
Certainly there are moments when it is apparent that I did something helpful, but especially in the ICU it is easy to wonder what difference can relatively modest nutrition changes make in the face of overwhelming sepsis or organ failure. We do have increasing data that reasonable amounts of nutrition, provided into the GI tract in a safe manner, can make a difference in the outcome of sick people. However, like George, much of the real good that we do is less apparent, and often happens over years.
Every time we are professional, collaborative, respectful and cite the most current evidence correctly, we have the potential to influence how other professionals and patients value nutrition professionals and their input. Every talk and article we pour our hearts and time into, to educate others, has the potential to help many patients for years to come. I know that I have been influenced and educated by articles, letters and editorials that were written years ago – certainly those authors had no way of knowing how many lives they touched. I have seen an increase in appreciation and awareness of the importance of nutrition in hospitalized patients in the last 25 years, and realize that it has been the cumulative effort of physicians, nurses, pharmacists and dietitians (and likely a great deal of late nights and coffee) that has made the difference.
We just need to remember to keep life in perspective, and that sometimes the most important things we do are not always instantly obvious, and you realize that it is an honor to play a part. You may not be kissing the banister at work, but perhaps you should think about hugging (rather than punching) someone who orders albumin “to check their nutrition status”….before you educate them. It really is a wonderful life.
“Strange, isn't it? Each man's life touches so many other lives. When he isn't around he leaves an awful hole, doesn't he?” - Frank Capra, It’s a Wonderful Life, 1946
“You know, George, I feel that in a small way we are doing something important. Satisfying a fundamental urge. It's deep in the race for a man to want his own roof and walls and fireplace, and we're helping him get those things in our shabby little office.” - Frank Capra, It’s a Wonderful Life, 1946