Anyone who’s been an inpatient in hospital will tell you that it’s the nurses who make your time there more bearable. Aside from being the ones who physically give you the drugs, the good nurses are ones who help you out of many undignified situations (and join in with the laughing or crying depending on your mood); they advocate for you when your doctor isn’t quite ‘getting it’ (and then explain off the record afterwards why they’re such a grump/stresshead); and just generally have a sixth sense about what you need when you need it. If you get on the wrong side of your nurses then you’re in trouble (and you’re an idiot).
I could talk about how they’re overworked and underpaid, but I doubt anyone goes into nursing thinking anything different (even if it’s wrong)- I know I knew to expect the same when I started teaching. They join the profession because they’re passionate about caring, which is pretty awesome. Doctors focus on lab work and tests and scans and then think about the human attached to them. Nurses are all about the humans and their needs, and use the information given to them to help deliver care. If you’re dying, it’s not a doctor standing with you while you take your last breaths- their bit is ‘done’- you can’t be fixed. It’s a nurse there. (Side note: Doctors can be great too, but this isn’t a post about doctors!) It’s physically demanding being a nurse, but it’s also emotionally hard too. How can you not care about losing a patient or seeing a patient upset?
I go to hospital enough and go to the same wards meaning I now recognise the nursing staff. I get really anxious before the change of shift because I’ve had some negative experiences in hospital in the past, but if I see a nurse I recognise I immediately feel so much better. I know they’ll look after me- they’ll fight with the docs if need be, or ring the one on call if I need something at night or try and work out some better pain relief. It makes such a difference, and I feel more relief seeing nurses I know than seeing doctors I know. That’s how much of an impact they have on my hospital stays.
I’ve got a few friends who are nurses in various fields who do great jobs. But I’ve got one nurse friend who has literally kept me alive for the last few years. Adrenal insufficiency is a stupid, volatile, unpredictable illness which is incredibly difficult to manage. There was a point where I was pleading with doctors to take me seriously when I was telling them I felt like I was dying and were it not for this friend saying ‘I believe there’s something seriously wrong’ I would have just keeled over and died at some point. Aside from support, he’s also helped me out massively managing my condition when it’s gone downhill fast, including injecting me last week with my emergency injection, plus he takes so much pressure off me by doing the mathematical nightmare that is my taper plan or helping me interpret what doctors mean, or translating my gut feelings/quirks into words that actually make sense to the doctors. He always comes to visit me when I get admitted, often after working a 12 hour shift and regularly ‘babysits’ me if I’m ill but not ill enough for hospital/I’m being stubborn (I offer him Netflix in return, I hasten to add). I could say more, but if I’m too nice he might think I’m seriously ill 😉 plus I’m liable to forget half of it. The gist of it is, I’m probably unaware of half the things he does for me and I wanted to say thank you.
My other nurse friends have also offered me advice/moral support/a listening ear when I’ve needed it, so thank you too. Another friend has constantly been at the other end of messenger whenever I’ve needed to rant about what’s been going on, which helps so much. 🙂 The other wonderful thing about nurse friends is you can pretty much guarantee that one of them is on a night shift at any given time to send a ‘I’m bored and I can’t sleep’ middle of the night text to! 😉
So happy nurses’ day, nurse friends/nurses who look after me and other patients. Thank you for what you do to make our lives more bearable when we’re feeling at our worst.