How quickly I forget. I know I am not alone in this matter, but I can only speak for myself. I am in a hurry so I cross the street without looking left, right, and then left again. I speed through a yellow light; God forbid I have to sit at a red for 2 minutes. I don’t wear a seat belt in the back seat of cabs. I have no idea if our smoke detector even works.
Riding my bike every morning, I have become so careless in being a defensive cyclist. I am impatient and even borderline aggressive when cars don’t give me the right of way.
I am so lucky to have periodic reminders to be more careful with the precious life that I temporarily own. I am reminded to heed these more gentle warnings, minding the fragility of life. And you should, too, because there is a more than likely chance that if you are taking the time to read my blog, you love me and I love you.
This morning, I got off a stop early on the subway and walked through Central Park. I woke up smiling, literally, because this is my favorite day of the week. On Thursdays I get to be with my mentor, a stellar DNP (Doctor of Nursing Practice, semi-new terminology for a nurse practitioner holding a doctorate). My step had a bounce to it, and I beamed at all the passersby even if they didn’t smile back. I even thought about telling a cyclist waiting with me at a stoplight that he should buy a helmet. But, I didn’t because that would be an unsolicited intrusion in a complete stranger’s life, right? Wrong. I wish I had said something.
My day was good, great even. I arrived and my instructor informed me that I would do my normal tasks, and in addition, perform part of a physical and take a partial patient history. I got an amazing, hands-on, taste of my future life as a nurse practitioner. And I got more nimble and confident with my fingers, administering a whopping 6 vaccines. That makes probably more than 20 shots total! Heaps of practice.
The day was wonderful until the last patient. My instructor prepped me for her, but the reality didn’t truly hit home until I put a face to the tragic story. She is a nursing student, I won’t say where or what program, but mention that fact only because it eerily parallels my own life. She is young and recently married, but her spouse and her have a long history together as they grew up together. Three days ago, her husband was riding his bike, in a bike lane in Manhattan. Cars were parked to the right of the bike lane, as is common. A driver opened his door without peeking behind to look for oncoming traffic, bike or otherwise, and “doored” the cyclist, which happened to be our patient’s husband. He flew forward, cartwheeling off the bicycle and landing in the middle of the road, where he was run over by an oncoming vehicle. He died.