Nurses

I’ve been thinking a lot about nurses this week. It is nurses week after all. I’ve had a lot of reasons to be grateful to nurses. There was the time when I was pregnant and my husband spent four days hospitalized for an unexplained neurological episode, and then there was the nurse who handed me a breast pump before I even knew what was happening after my baby was whisked off to the NICU, and the PICU nurses who knew how to comfort the baby I couldn’t hold better than I could.

I work with nurses. Almost every one of my coworkers is a nurse. But the past two weeks renewed my deep respect and love for the women and men that make up the profession.

The first nurse we saw after surgery made waiting for the surgeon to tell us how things went with our child’s heart surgery seem normal. Later she advocated for my child, who clearly needed more sedation, and ran out to get a doctor demanding propofol when she kept waking up while still intubated. Our second nurse, watched our girl intently while we got some much needed rest. The third nurse we met, helped us plan to get her extubated, let us know how difficult it would be during the time which she was awake, but still on the ventilator. She helped when she vomited, got her up for the first time, carefully combed out and braided her hair after two days of sweat and tangles. She made plans for keeping her pain and nausea at bay. She helped her use the bathroom. Her hands, and four other pairs of nurses hands, helped her walk for the very first time. Her nurses talked with me, they recognized my anxiety, explained to me what I needed to know when I asked question after question. They asked about my girls, they told me about their kids. They made it feel more normal. Her next nurse brought us her beads of courage. Talked to me about what would happen at discharge, about incision care. Her nurses taught me how to pick her up without hurting her. They taught me how to clean her wounds. They showed me when she was no longer a high priority patient and I could do most of her care myself. They rallied when other patients in the ICU were crashing and desperately needed more help. They helped her feel less afraid and let her know it was ok to cry and scream as they removed lines and chest tubes. They called her Wonder Woman and Spitfire and Super Girl. They cheered for her daily.

Her nurses literally kept her alive. Just like when she was a baby. Yes there were doctors, and those doctors have so much knowledge, but the nurses, they are the ones monitoring, the ones recognizing when there’s a problem and making a decision based on that information.

I wish I could do something for those nurses, to let them know how much they do. To show them how appreciated they are. That what they do matters, every day, so very much. That their actions, are equally as important as the surgery itself, in saving her life.

So happy nurses week, to those nurses, and all nurses who go above and beyond just to care for those who need help the most. You are amazing.

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I realized I never updated with her progress in this space. She was discharged six days post op, after which we spent another four days in Rochester. She slowly returned to herself, and now that we’re back home she almost seems like she’s back to 100%. There’s still bruising, and incisions to care for, there’s fitful sleep and pain in the morning. But there’s also her humor and smile, her desire to see her friends and those she loves most, and a deep need to be completely healed. I’m so amazed by her strength and feel so very lucky that she’s ours every day.