Hi, my name is Ashley...

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By Melissa Rissler

February 8, 2022

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Hi, My Name is Ashley…

Hi! My name is Ashley (Ash for short). I just thought I’d introduce myself to those who have known me as Melissa. You see, I had a patient last night with stage 4 Ovarian cancer (the same kind that took my Grandma). She was in severe pain, the kind that most of you will never experience or even begin to comprehend, and she was younger than I am. I am 42; just let that sink in for a moment.

Her body was emaciated because she only ate one meal in 2-3 days because she was “full.” Her stomach was bloated and protruded so far that it pushed on her lungs, not unlike a nine months pregnant woman, an ironic mockery of the fact that she hasn’t and never will have children. 

She asked me for chocolate

  She asked me for chocolate. I didn’t have any, but a co-worker had left four tootsie rolls on the desk, so I gave those to her…the joy on her face as she savored them was beautiful…she called them her “breakfast,” and she thanked me and called me Ashley.

   I brought her pain medication “when it was time” instead of waiting for her to ask. But I could still hear her crying in-between time because of the pain, and she thanked me and called me Ash.

   I got her into an actual hospital bed instead of the hard ER stretcher to try to help ease her, and she thanked me and called me Ashley.

   As the early morning hours rolled by, she told me she wasn’t afraid to die and that she didn’t want to wake up in the morning. She worried about the stress her sickness was putting on her elderly father. I spoke to her about Hospice/Palliative care and the fact that daddies love their baby girls no matter the age, and she cried and thanked me and called me Ashley.

I love you, Thank you, Ashley

She finally got a room upstairs, and as she was being wheeled out, she said to me, “I love you. Thank you, Ash”. 

You see, she had it in her mind that Ashley was my name because she didn’t remember me introducing myself as Melissa. But you know what? I have never been more proud to be called Ashley. My name didn’t matter…our time together as nurse and patient revolved around more important things.

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