I’m sure that by now you have heard about Miss Colorado’s monologue during the Miss America pageant about her career as a nurse. And if you have heard about that then you have probably heard about the ignorant comments made by Joy Behar and Michelle Collins on The View. I have read many responses from nurses who are rightfully angry but thus far I have not read any from the patients they have cared for.
Up until I got sick my main experiences with nurses were in my OBGYN practice and for my children. When I would schedule my OB appointments I would more often than not request the Nurse Practitioner. I found them to be more caring and heartfelt than the doctors. When I was taken in for my first c-section and I was shaking and scared my nurse told me to hug her while they did the spinal block. When I take my sick children to the doctors it is most often the nurses who are joking with them and trying to make them smile. It is the nurse who is giving one an enema after several days of not using the bathroom so that I do not have to be the bad guy. It is the nurse who is giving them their shots, knowing that they will be causing them pain. It is hard for me to hear one child cry, can you imagine hearing babies cry all day, every day? But they march on because they know they are providing an invaluable service.
Then I got sick and spent ten days in the hospital. I want to be very, very clear on this. Your nurses are everything when you are sick. Yes, my doctors were the people who diagnosed me and ultimately saved my life. However, the nurses were the ones making sure that I received my medications on time. The nurse held my mother while she cried when the prognosis was dire. The nurses translated for my family when the doctors were having a conference in front of them without explaining anything to them. It was the nurses that bathed me when I could not bathe myself. When I woke up I was full of questions but too groggy to understand the answers. My nurse wrote down all my questions for me so that I could ask them again when I was alert. My nurses found a plug for my phone close enough to the bed so that I would have it always when I was alone. They helped me brush my teeth and comb my hair. They made me laugh and held my hand when I cried. They told me it was okay to be scared to go home. They literally gave me the words that I could not formulate so that I could explain what I was feeling to Marc. It was my nurse that printed out a list of every medication that I was given so that I may understand what side effects I could have. My nurse reported my two negative experiences to my doctor without even telling me. She knew I was afraid that the repercussions could be worse care. And when she told me she had reported them she cried because she did not want me to believe that all nurses were that way. In that moment, she really did look like an Angel. My nurses cared for me and about me. I tried to show them my appreciation by getting Marc to bring chik-fil-a and by ordering pizza for the two floors the cared for me. The truth is it would have been impossible for me to appropriately show them because there is no end to it.
And then there is my mother in law who nurses patients in a high dementia care unit. She has left work with a black eye and a broken heart. She loves her patients and makes sure they receive the best. She puts blankets under their sheets to make sure they are warm enough and always makes sure they receive the basic care that others may neglect. When it was me who she cared for she woke up at 5am to help me put in my antibiotic. We were all a little afraid that I might kill myself if I tried to do it alone. She did not let me do too much too soon and ensured that everything around me was taken care of so that I could recover without worry. I could not have managed those first few weeks without her nursing me.
I know that there are imperfect nurses. I promise you that there are many, many more imperfect patients that do not treat them with the respect that they deserve. There are also imperfect humans that go on television and make ridiculous comments about our Angels. I am only one person but I can say with whole heart that I love nurses and I believe that people in general really need to remember to think before they speak.