You stopped me in the hospital hallway to see how I was doing. I didn’t remember you from a sedated procedure several days earlier, but I know that procedure couldn’t have happened without you. You were glad to see me up and walking and you wished me well in just the most genuine way. And even though I didn’t remember you then, I still remember you now. Thank you, Carmen.
You were my nurse in post-op. You kept showing up at my side reminding me to breathe. You were soothing and reassuring through severe pain, and you didn’t let them move me until I said I was okay to be moved. Thank you, Mary.
You were my nurse when I returned to the floor after surgery. You were very pregnant, as in when I was re-admitted two weeks later you were home with your new baby. You must have been exhausted, but you stayed past your shift to help me anyway. Thank you, Nicole.
You placed both my PICC lines. If you were at all frustrated when placement took longer than expected, you didn’t show it. Later, you were already out of scrubs and you should have been on your way home when you showed up to adjust my line so that the heart palpitations would stop. Thank you, Marie.
You knew that 23-year-old me was out of place in a ward mostly full of older adults with dementia, and you did your best to make me feel less alone. You were pregnant and I made a hat for your baby-to-be, and then a year and a half later, when I wasn’t even your patient, you made the time to talk with me and show me pictures of your baby boy. Thank you, Nicole.
You saved me from the hallway. You saw what no one else saw, that even though I was young and mobile, I was actually really sick. And later, after I spent days trying to get someone to solve a problem with my line, you took care of the problem within an hour of being on shift. I still think you have magic powers. Thank you, Rose.
You exuded competence and skill and I remember being shocked to learn you were less than a year out of nursing school. It was clear that you were deeply invested in your patients. You were on shift over Thanksgiving weekend and you gave me reason to be thankful. Thank you, Mallory.
You always spent extra time chatting with me. You told me stories that made me laugh, even on otherwise bad days. You most made me feel like just a person, not a patient trapped in the hospital. Thank you, Kristine.
You were quiet but so kind. Your presence always instantly put me at ease. After a stressful situation in the middle of the night with another patient in the room, you knew that I was shaken up and you put your own stress aside to talk me through it. Thank you, Cristina.
You were there for my first tunneled line placement. I wasn’t given sedation and I had no idea what to expect, but you asked me if I was okay every few minutes. And every time you saw my eyes scrunch up in pain you gently held my hand. I never got your name, but thank you all the same.
You were with me for 12 pretty scary hours of my life. I was alone in the ER and sicker than I realized, but you watched me like a hawk. You acted quickly when needed, yet were calm and cool the entire time. You were always one step ahead and I knew without a doubt that I was safe on your watch. Thank you, Ashley.
You did my TPN training. You taught me everything I needed to know to manage my own care and you were the reason I was able to go home. You were encouraging and accommodating and you will always have a special spot in my heart. I hope you’re enjoying retirement. Thank you, Sheila.
You’re my TPN nurse now. You care about fitting my medical routines into my life, rather than revolving my life around my medical routines. You’re the first health care professional who I feel truly understands and validates the challenges of life on TPN. Thank you, Jennifer.
You’re still a student. You’re smart and caring and sincere. You’ve spent hours listening to me talk about my experiences and you don’t even get course credit for it. You’re in this for the right reasons and your future patients are lucky. Thank you, Angela.
I’ve spent months of my life watching nurses at work. I’ve watched you take abuse from patients who don’t acknowledge your skills and training. I’ve watched you care for people who are careless towards you. I’ve watched you watch patients ignore everything you’ve said and then quietly deal with the fallout. I’ve watched you comfort people as you tell them that their loved one has died. I’ve watched you care for patients in ways that go beyond your job description. I’ve watched you struggle due to staffing shortages and budget cuts. I’ve watched you do all of this, while also juggling a seemingly impossible number of other responsibilities, with patience and grace. And dedication. And all too often without recognition.
I could have mentioned many more of you by name, but there are also a lot of you whose names I can’t remember. Just as all of the medical stuff has blurred together over the years, so too have your names and faces. Honestly, though, just the fact that you are able to do everything you do without me remembering you for the wrong reason is a feat of heroism. And name or no name, I know that you were there, and I know that you gave of yourself to help me and others like me during our most vulnerable moments, and that’s amazing.
And I am grateful.
Thank you, nurses.