February 10, 2022
Valentine’s Day is inspired by caregiving or healing. Its main symbol is documentation of that love – the less clinical and certainly more commercial version of it anyway – via cards, letters, notes, etc.
Both of these correspond to the daily love stories we see and sometimes participate in as part of directing 24/7 nurse triage phone calls serving homecare health services and hospice triage.
Add to this the fact that traditional Valentine candy “conversation hearts” were designed by a pharmacist, and we have made the case that St. Valentine’s Day truly is an HHH holiday! (FYI, Oliver Chase, the pharmacist inventor was initially solving manufacturing issues with medical lozenges. When Eureka – One small step for care lead to today’s 8 billion annual candy-heart production – and a distant echo to the documentation of love, supposedly between a patient and a healer.)
ST. VALENTINE – MAN OR MEN? PHYSICIAN PRACTICES, OTHER CONTRIBUTIONS
Researchers cannot agree whether St. Valentine was one, two, or even three individuals.
What is known, however, is that this individual or these individuals cared for the afflicted, providing triage services in third-century Europe.
In one version,
Valentine, smitten with the once-blind Julia,
penned her a love letter,
signed “from your Valentine” on the very day of his execution.
In the other version,
it is Julia, now able to see and write,
who inked the love letter to Valentine.
For the Triage Nurse,
the notice of pure care in a non-romantic sense
is the memorable takeaway.
Valentine is known to have provided triage care to those with Epilepsy and the Black Plague. We do not know how much of his/their capabilities came from medical smarts, faith, luck, or lore, but his/their example is famous all the world over.
Legend has it that Valentine restored sight to the blind daughter of a jailer. Julia’s father generously and – quite publicly, indeed overly publicly – rewarded Valentine by freeing the healer and other confined Christians. The new convert shepherded the conversion of 50 members of his family to Christianity.
It was a costly tribute. The emperor of Rome demanded the beheading of Valentine and his greatest convert. February 14 both Valentine and the jailer were executed.
LETTERS OF LOVE? INSIGHT FOR MEDICAL CALL CENTERS?
Smithsonian researchers scoff at any notion of romantic love’s being associated with St. Valentine.
Legend tells it two ways:
In one version, Valentine, smitten with the once-blind Julia, penned her a love letter, signed “from your Valentine” on the very day of his execution.
In the other version, it is Julia, now able to see and write, who inked the love letter to Valentine.
For the Triage Nurse, we vote with the Smithsonian: The notice of pure care in a non-romantic sense is the memorable takeaway.
BEING TODAY’S VALENTINE AS TELEHEALTH NURSING STAFF
Today, more than 145 million Valentine’s cards are penned annually and 8 billion candy hearts deliciously present their mini-missives of love and caring.
For those of us RNs in triage nurse jobs, Valentine’s Day is another day of giving of ourselves and being rewarded for our role. These are, of course, health and hospice roles where patients are being treated, family members and caregivers are doting on loved ones, and clinical and non-clinical staff members are bringing our all to each present moment.
CareXM Nursing Manager Kelli Hall has worked for years as a remote triage nurse from Pearcy, Ark. Before joining CareXM in a telephone nurse triage job almost five years ago, she was a Hospice Program Director for the then 500+-census Arkansas Hospice, which is celebrating its 30th anniversary this year as Arkansas’s largest nonprofit provider of hospice care.
Flourishing child-like joy, Hall and her team would make Valentine’s Boxes from well-loved items ready for re-imagining. Outside judges honored best-in-class entries. Nursing-home patients, IPU patients, and the homebound received hand-crafted boxes stuffed with cards, candy, and chocolates. A chocolate fountain, local vendors’ donated bakery treats and fresh-flower bouquets for loved ones sealed the special holiday.
FEB. 14 WHILE WORKING NURSE TRIAGE JOBS FROM HOME
Each year, Valentine’s Day for me invokes memories of a caregiver’s decades-long love for his spouse.
He contacted the on-call service for telephone triage, distraught about his wife’s level of pain. He helplessly wrestled with his knowledge: He knew that morphine was the right treatment but was terrified of it. He knew that administering morphine would turn the corner and come closer to his accepting her imminent demise.
We talked for about five minutes, following hospice triage protocols. He trusted me, as a phone triage nurse and as a caring coach.
He grieved, acknowledged, and ultimately, accepted coaching for how to, at that moment, show the most love to his greatest love.
In so doing, he accepted her continuing journey and his unique role in helping her receive the most comfort, the greatest love possible on her way toward death. Once on her morphine drip, her tense face eased, her serenity returned. He cried with joy and acceptance.
My colleague and inspiration is Kristy Fisher, our Director of Nursing at CareXM. While serving as a hospMy colleague and inspiration is Kristy Fisher, our Director of Clinical Operations at CareXM. While serving as a hospice triage nurse and then a clinical director for a hospice, she used to collect tributes she received from patients who had passed away but credited her caring in their obituaries. These love letters from beyond the grave document the importance of care and are a faint tribute to someone named Valentine and the many ones he loved and cared for.