This Uniform

As another placement draws to a close, the 4:30am alarm is turned off and I hang up my uniform until the next placement, I sit for a while and think.

My tunic now has a grey tinge after 3 years of ward based placements, the cracked and faded university logo looks tired after constant washing and faded ink marks cover what was a bright white fabric. It looks worn and exhausted. Like it cannot continue to stay together.

This uniform has seen so much.

It has been a comforter for rolling tears. Patient have buried their head deep in to the shoulder, soaking the soft material with cries of anguish because an illness has torn apart their life. It has soaked up my tears after a difficult shift, sitting in my car silently crying and wondering if I can make it as a nurse. It has absorbed the tears of colleagues, too tired and burnt out to carry on working. It has contained tears of happiness when someone is discharged from their section, it has been part of a recovery movement, and has embraced a team when someone we have worked so hard with is discharged.

These scrubs have heard stories of hope and of recovery. They have heard the screams of patients when they are severely unwell, and the song of patients well on their way to recovery. They have heard stories of abuse, of pain and of sorrow. They have heard tales of incredible staff, amazing patients and beautiful families. They have heard voices that carry stories of love and acceptance.

This tunic, it has seen mothers cry over their children, father’s disbelief at another relapse, and siblings pine for their family to be together again. This tunic has seen team work like no other, a team who don’t give up on one another, even when times get tough. It would need a telescope to see how far staff go for patients; it has seen supervision and persistence when every option tried isn’t having the desired effect.

It has held people in empathy and love. It has comforted everyone who has walked through those doors, carrying the weight of the world on their shoulders. It has reassured people that they are safe, safe from the abuse, the hurt, the pain and the wish for their life to be over. It has seen you scream out that you just don’t want your medication; it has seen us have to give it to you anyway because we don’t want to see you more distressed.

These scrubs, they have been spat on, bled on and vomited over. They have had every bodily fluid possible on. They have held you when you are so distressed with your own thoughts that we need to keep you safe. They have seen injections, medication and blood being drawn. They have found self-inflicted wounds and done their best to stop you losing blood. They have seen a team fight for your life.

This uniform, it has seen families say goodbye

These scrubs, they have held you tight as you cry enough to fill an ocean

This tunic, it has heard stories that would shake anyone to the core

And suddenly I understand, I understand why the bright white has turned to grey. I understand why this uniform that has seen so much is exhausted.

But it is still going.