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Challenge: Finding Your Village

To The Nurse

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I was crying so hard I shook. I was alone and so scared that I was afraid to open my eyes. But, then you slipped your hand into mine and held it. You told me you would hold it until my husband could come in. Your peers, likely with just a look, happily picked up your tasks. You held my hand. You probably talked to me the whole time. Thanks to the whirlwind of the emergency C-Section and the medications, I don’t remember that. But, I do remember feeling less alone. Less scared.

You woke me gently in the middle of the night and told me it was time to try to walk. You steadied me as I put weight on my feet for the first time in over 24 hours. You looked at me and together we shuffled to the restroom. With one hand you held my arm and with the other you helped me wash my hair, my back and legs. Together we washed away the two days of labor and surgery. The evidence of it all mixed with water and rinsed away. You helped me do what I was too weak to do. Helped me begin to say, “That part is over.”

My seemingly over the top diagnosis based on my newly acquired degree from WebMD had been right. I was sick. I was in bad shape. I needed medical intervention and help or something bad might happen soon. In triage, the pent up fear of not trying to get ahead of myself came in hard tears. As the synopsis of each procedure needed was shared, I grasped at any semblance of control I had left in the situation and asked about nursing. I felt like I was finally making progress. And, you hugged me and held my face telling me, “We are both going to do everything to make sure you develop a great nursing relationship with your son.” You gave me power when I felt like I had none.

A knock at the door and you appeared. I had been with you a week earlier when I was in labor and we made the connection that we were in the same sorority at Purdue. However, you graduated nearly a decade before me. You heard I was back on the floor and wanted to see how I was doing. You thought I might want someone to talk to and you really wanted to meet my son, who you “Oh’ed” over and held with excited joy telling me he was so handsome. You made me feel remembered. Your care made me feel loved. You made me feel like we really were sisters.

The sad, robotic, literal “whomp whommmp” of the blood pressure reading filled the room. We had been there long enough to know that was a bad sound. After days in the hospital, my body still could not maintain normal blood pressure readings. Frustration and fears rolled through the room. I asked Adam, bouncing our son, for the numbers. Bad, again, and getting higher. We wouldn’t be going home tonight. You were beside the doctor who considered, out loud, that we may have to start IV medication again. At her orders, you had removed the port that morning, thanks to signs of improving health. And you saw it register on my face. The idea of getting poked again, medication again, starting all over was too much. I wanted to whine. I wanted to cry. Instead, I crumpled over and you grabbed me by the shoulders and gave me a little shake. “This sucks, but we all have shit that we have to deal with. You have a baby and a loving husband. Parents who care for you. This is just your shit right now.” You didn’t mean to, but in that moment- even though I thought you were a little mean for a second- you taught me one of my life’s biggest lessons.

Thank you.

Thank you all.

I don’t know one of your names and you may not remember me either. We were only with each other for a shift. But your actions, your words and your care had a profound impact on me.

To the nurse. My nurse. Then and in the future. Your skills are great and so appreciated. And, while I can’t even begin to imagine the emotional and physical weight your job puts on your life and your relationships, I know it likely goes without many thanks. But, what I really want to thank you for is for being exactly who you are. Calm, wise, and kind. A reminder to me of pure empathy and that in this wild world- a world where we hustle, tweet, text and try not to make eye contact- we need people.

Thank you for being those people when we are scared, vulnerable, powerless, in need of a friend or a pep talk. Thank you for being the people there when people need people the most.

Thank you for being a nurse.


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