This week is National Nurses Appreciation Week. The following is my tribute to nurses or what I like to refer to them as: angels on earth.
Nursing is not an unfamiliar profession to me – my Aunt, sister and best friend are all nurses. I can recall their stories of the struggles of their profession: running from one patient to the next, holding their bladders and going without lunch, communicating with insolent doctors and frustrated families, and the many physically demanding days of non-stop lifting, wiping, feeding, administering and suctioning.
They are humbly reticent, however, about the emotional impact they make on patients and their families. And, because of this, I’ve never fully realized or appreciated the extent to which nurses enhance the quality of our lives during the most difficult times. Nurses are the gentle, unimposing, and far too often unrecognized, superheroes of the medical profession.
So, to the many nurses we’ve met along our journey: Thank you.
Thank you to the nurse who suggested that we move Theo from a crib to a regular hospital bed so that we could lie next to him after spending seven long days at his bedside in PICU. And thank you to the nurse who repositioned the many lines and wires attached to my precious boy’s body so I could finally wrap my arms around him.
Thank you to the nurse who first saw my son’s bloated, bruised body and told me that he was the most adorable little boy you’ve ever seen. And thank you for always talking to him and encouraging me to do the same even though I wasn’t sure he could hear me.
Thank you to the nurse who later rocked and cuddled my son when I was out of the room. Knowing that he was still comforted by a warm, loving embrace when I wasn’t there to provide it, allowed me to slip out for that much needed coffee or washroom break. Thank you also for singing and sweetly whispering to him like he was your own.
Thank you to the nurse who encouraged us to go back to the Ronald McDonald House to shower or take a nap when we were hesitant to leave our son’s side. We could finally do so because we trusted you and knew that you cared for our son just as much as we did.
Thank you to the nurse who would cover me with warm sheets as I slept on the hospital cot next to his bed. Thank you also for making sure I was eating enough during those early days of my pregnancy even though it was often the last thing on my mind. You gently reminded me of the child I was carrying and allowed my broken heart to find some hope and peace.
Thank you to the nurse who sat with us following difficult conversations with many of our son’s pediatricians and specialists. You softened their callous prognoses and provided hope when it seemed like none existed. Your moistened eyes always spoke of your selfless empathy.
Thank you to the nurse who stayed with us for hours when our son was first extubated. We were scared to be alone and even more scared to say goodbye. You stayed late that shift, and when you left, enveloped us in hugs that spoke louder than words.
Thank you to the nurse who later taught us how to change our son’s wound dressings, prime his feeding pump, administer medication and check the placement of his nasogastric tube. We were nervous about our new roles as caregivers and you gave us the confidence we needed to face this challenge.
Thank you to the nurse who encouraged us to be advocates for our son’s care when we left the hospital and struggled with the bureaucracy of home health care. Thank you for always helping us fight to ensure he receives the best care possible.
To all the nurses we have encountered along the way: thank for looking beyond the wounds and MRI results and seeing our beautiful son for the precious little boy he is. And, thank you for going above and beyond your job requirements every single day especially when it goes unrecognized.
Donning scrubs instead of capes, you truly are superheroes.