September 13, 2006, 4:30 pm

Where There Is Life, There Is Hope


Now here’s a specialty I’ve never seen!

Wine Nurse!

Cherry Ames, Vinyard Nurse!

Specializing in Petite Syrah and Chardonay with a minor in Wine Coolers.

That doesn’t look like a vineyard behind her.

Looks like a campground.

And why don’t these paperback nurses ever have flat chests? Or look like they are above a size -2?

The cap has potential, it just looks like someone cut the sides off it.

Something tells me this won’t make it to my highly exclusive reading list any time soon!

Then again…..

I wonder if the Neibaum-Coppola winery is hiring?


Too tired to go to Starbucks today, so I made my own iced coffee.

Our music today is being provided by Iggy Pop, Evanescence and the Backstreet Boys courtesy of my iTunes playlist.

What can I say? My musical interests are eclectic to say the least!


The family encircled the bed of their beloved family member and turned to the surgeon, their eyes imploring him to say that everything would be okay.

“Is there any hope?” the daughter asked.

“Where there is life, there is always hope”, responded the surgeon.

A platitude?


But I’ve never forgotten that one sentence and I have used more times than I can remember over the years.

Because it is true.


Hope permeates our life.

We hope our children will turn out to be productive citizens. We hope our favorite football teams will win this weekend. We hope the scale will show a few pounds less than the last time.

We hope we’ll be able to find the money for our next meal. We hope that we might find shelter from the storm when we have no home to go to.

We hope for a cure for cancer. We hope that there will be peace in the world someday.

Families hope their loved ones can pull through difficult situations or dangerous life-threatening illnesses.

And that is when they turn to us and say those gut-wrenching words:

Is there any hope?


In the room of a critically ill patient or in the waiting room of an ICU or ER, there is an energy. A force, if you will.

That force is hope.

It’s what keeps families at the bedside or camping out in the hospital for weeks at a time, alternating shifts and still managing to function in their jobs and homes despite the growing exhaustion.

It’s why a patient’s friends and family will analyze anything and everything said for the tiniest inflection, turn of phrase, facial expression…any hint that things might be going in a positive direction.

It’s why nurses and doctors work so hard to get their critical patients to turn around.

Even in the face of overwhelming odds.

Some call that denial.

I call it hanging on for dear life…

To hope.


When hope is removed, the air is violently sucked from the environment leaving an oppressive stagnation in its wake.

The atmosphere becomes heavy.

You become numb and your knees want to buckle under the weight of the anvil on your chest.

You stop breathing. For a minute.

All the stress leading up to that moment shows its effects in your face and the exhaustion that has been building, repressed, flows to the surface.

Questions are asked. You answer them, but you don’t remember what you said.

You begin to dread what you now know will happen.

Your body still functions. You walk, but you don’t feel your legs. You cry, but the anvil stays firmly in place. You try to sleep, but you are too exhausted. You haven’t eaten in three days. You aren’t hungry.

The questions begin. Why? What if? How?

Questions that will often be unanswerable.


They say that the first response to a death is shock.

I believe that the process that leads to shock is the loss of hope.


Hope is a palpable, living emotion. You can feel it, sometimes only by its absence.

And so, I agree with my surgeon colleague from those many, many years ago.

Where there is life, there is hope.

Because without it, we are dead inside.


  • Chele

    September 13, 2006 at 5:33 pm

    That was beautiful Kim. Its so true. Thank you for reminding me about hope…I know I will think about it the next time I work.

  • Moof

    September 13, 2006 at 8:58 pm

    Beautiful post, Kim! Thank you very much! :o)

  • Dawn

    September 14, 2006 at 12:55 pm

    Excellent Kim. The GI doc I worked with told me the same thing over a year ago regarding a friend of mine battling breast cancer. Definately something to keep in mind when/if I’m ever asked that question.

  • kt

    September 14, 2006 at 3:18 pm

    such a good post. i understand the fatigue that makes you become your own barista at home.

  • Dex

    September 14, 2006 at 7:36 pm

    Well said.

    Let me say it so that I can have the phenomenal experience of saying it, “When there is life, there is hope.”

    Another way,

    Hope springs eternal in the human breast;
    Man never Is, but always To be blest:
    The soul, uneasy and confin’d from home,
    Rests and expatiates in a life to come.

    -Alexander Pope,
    An Essay on Man, Epistle I, 1733

    (By the way, “expatiates” = expatiate – add details–
    elaborate, expound, flesh out, dilate, enlarge, expand upon, clarify, clear up, elucidate)

    I love playing this little trick:

    Before patient is to go for procedure: “Repeat after me: ‘I’m going to be fine'” Pt. repeats. Afterwards–“Gee, she was pretty touch and go there for a while…” “Naw,” I reply, “she told me herself, ‘I’m going to be fine,'”. ^_^

  • Rivrdog

    September 15, 2006 at 6:01 am

    Since your favorite enebriate is eventually going to cost the CA medical system a bundle of bucks, why doesn’t said medical system take the bull by the horns, and the next time she is brought in, two doctors sign the papers, get her declared incompetent, and put her in lockup rehab.

    Failure to take such action will (is) bleed the medical system dry, over time.

  • […] award for Most Uplifting post goes to Kim at Emergiblog. Kim explores the oft repeated platitude Where There Is Life, There Is Hope. It reminded me a lot of 1st Corinthians 13. “Now these three remain: faith, hope and […]

About Me

My name is Kim, and I'm a nurse in the San Francisco Bay area. I've been a nurse for 33 years; I graduated in 1978 with my ADN. My experience is predominately Emergency and Critical Care, and I have also worked in Psychiatry and Pediatrics. I made the decision to be a nurse back in 1966 at the age of nine...

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