Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Part 5: My Unexpected Florence

I just have to make a special mention about the nurses. I met literally DOZENS during my two-week stay. Some were good, others great, a few were exceptional. I admire the work that nurses do. So many of their jobs are frankly disgusting, but they do even the disgusting jobs with a dignity and a smile.

I don't remember all of the names of my great nurses, but a few of them really went above and beyond, and I wanted to share a few stories:

Candy was my ICU nurse. I mentioned her in the last post. She's in her 40's and was sweet and motherly with four teenage girls of her own. She was so tender and kind to me. She was there the same time my mom was, and I know my mom felt confident leaving me in her care. She brought me swabs of water to moisten my mouth while it was intubated (oh, I remember daydreaming about water, ice cubes and food). She kindly gave me a sponge bath in bed. I was so humiliated at first at the very idea, but she was so respectful and nonchalant about it.

Following my Thoracotomy, my recovery nurse introduced me to the a-la-carte menu. I hadn't eaten in days, and I was now free of my breathing tube. He took my order and phoned it in for me! "Can I have a strawberry milkshake?" "You can have ANYTHING you want! You've earned it." he said.

Perhaps the sweetest experience came from an unexpected nurse. Following my surgery, I was assigned a pair of male nurses. Jason was in Nursing Training from Gonzaga University. He was in his 40's with gray hair and had a few kids of his own, but he had a really youthful personality. His trainer (I can't remember his name) was the same age and situation, and both were took a personal interest in me. They kept saying what an unusual case mine was, and how they couldn't believe all that had happened to me. We talked about our kids, and had some good laughs. They were a lot of fun, and so, so nice. After a couple of days I got comfortable enough with Jason to ask him for a big favor. "Jason, I don't suppose you could help me up to the sink to let me wash my hair, could you?"

I know it's vain, friends. I know! But, really I think it had been weeks since I had washed my hair. I know I hadn't washed it that whole week that I was in bed sick at home. I'm all about roughing it at girls' camp, but I was in this clean hospital bed and I felt filthy. I tried braiding it and clipping it back, but nothing seemed to help.

Jason smiled and said, "I don't think bending over a sink would be a very good idea. Let me see what I can do." At this point I started back-pedaling. I told him never mind and not to worry about it, that it was okay. He put up his hand and said, "Amy, it will make you feel human again, and when you feel better, you'll heal faster. We're washing your," then he left the room.

About 15 minutes later he came back with a stack of towels, a basin of water, and several waterproof pads. He propped up an empty basin behind my head and poured water over my hair to wet it, and then rinse it after I shampooed. It was so great. Tears were in my eyes, and it wasn't because I got soap in them! It wasn't the smoothest shampoo; we got water everywhere, but it was SO worth it! I thanked Jason again and again as I twisted a towel onto my head.

There was head nurse Carl, who found out that Annette, Boo and Yaks had been waiting for hours for my room transfer in order to come and see me. He hustled all of the paperwork and wheeled me down there himself so "you don't have to wait a minute longer to see your kids." That meant a ton. I missed them so much!

There was Sherri, who would sing Gospel music while going about her work. We had some great conversations about religion. She gave me a big hug the day I left the hospital, and said she would be praying for me.

I tried to always make a point to say 'thank you' to the nurses, even those who came in the middle of the night or early in the morning to check my vitals. What a thankless and often difficult job! I admire those who go into that profession. I'll always be thankful for my amazing doctors, but I'd be really ungrateful if I didn't recognize my equally amazing nurses!

"The very first requirement in a hospital is that it should do the sick no harm."
- Florence Nightingale


The Davenport Family said...

What wonderful nurses you had. I have to admit that Jason brought tears to my eyes though :) How good it must have felt to feel human again! I'm so glad that you had so many wonderful and caring people to help you get better :)

Taylor's said...

Seriously, your family (everyone of the Hale's) must be translated and here for us to learn from!

You amaze me! Your strength, your kindness, your spirit, your affection . . . .WHAT an amazing man and family you must have; seriously, You are AMAZING!

Holly said...

I love hearing about your experience, and reading the sweet stories of the people who cared for you. We can all learn how to be more Christ-like from those good people at the hospital.