Taking Care

And now for a PSA:

I was raised by a nurse. My husband is a nurse. Several of my dear friends are nurses. Many of you are slogging through nursing school right now. When I gave birth, there were two people with us: our midwife and a nurse named Felicia who I still would stop in the street and hug (much to her horror, I’m sure) were I to see her again. In today’s medical system, nurses are becoming increasingly responsible for our care, and they have one of the most prolific, strange, and often gross jobs on the face of the earth. It’s true. I’m fascinated by it, but after hearing about even one of Drew’s work days in the world of Critical Care, all I’m left with is a sense of gratitude that there are people that are willing to do what he and many, many others do every day because…geeeehhhhh, you know?

At the dinner table when we talk about Asher growing up, he will boldly announce that he’s going to “work in the hospital with Popi and make the patients feel better”. My heart swells. I’ve said this a lot over the years, but Drew has insane days at work where he helps people die, grieve, stay alive, poop, eat, breathe…and then he comes home and says, ‘it was pretty busy today’. And that’s that. That completely blows my mind, but it’s his superpower. He’s at peace with everything the body is capable of, and because of that, he can give incredible care.

Over the course of his career, there have only been a few times when he’s brought work home, and it’s never because of what the body did, it’s because of the relationships that he witnesses as people are dying in the hospital. Most recently it was a wife saying goodbye to her husband, looking at Drew and saying simply, “he’s my best friend”. They were in their 70s. It shook Drew, not because the man died, but because he knew the grief that lay waiting for his wife. Drew does a lot of amazing life-saving blow-your-mind kind of stuff at work, but I think that so much of what nurses do is to be the one to hold a hand, accept a hug, and calmly bear witness to the unbearable truths of our humanness.

In this country, we’re quick to get misty eyed about our various heroes (as we should) but during the month of May, National Nurses Month, I hope that everyone will take a minute to find a nurse to thank for their service to your community. While they may not be running into a burning building or arresting the bad guys, they are doing the unthinkable minutia that it takes to keep our sometimes very disgusting human bodies up and running. They’re the ones that sit with wives and watch a husband take the last breath that ends a 58 year marriage. They’re the ones breaking up fist fights among grieving family members (I’m’ not joking about that one), holding down hallucinating patients that are trying to find their shoes to ‘jump over the fence over there’ in the hospital room, administering chest compressions until they can’t feel their arms, giving your baby her first gentle bath; nurses do all of the medical things that we think of nurses doing, and then the work starts.

I’m supremely proud of Drew and all of the nurses that we know. I’m proud of them for giving up weekends, nights, holidays with their families to take care of the rest of us. But more than that, I’m thankful. We all are.

So that’s that. End of PSA. Go hug a nurse.

3 thoughts on “Taking Care

  1. In the moments before and immediately following the loss of our daughter in our local ER, it was the nurses who held my husband and me together. The hugged us, cried with us, were broken with us. They brought humanity and warmth to what could have been a sterile, cold room. They lugged a rocker down from the nursery so that we could hold her for hours, finally free from the cords. They took her final foot and hand prints. They thought to bring a pair of scissors so that we had the chance to snip a few curls. We were not prepared, we didn’t know what we would cherish and remember in the days to come. The nurses knew what we would be facing once the shock wore off and prepared us the best they knew how. Nurses will forever be our heroes.

    • Damie, thank you for sharing such a personal story, and I am so unbelievably sorry for your loss. What you point to here is what makes me so proud to be surrounded by nurses, although my husband will tell you that they gather bravery and strength from the patients. Thank you for your comment.

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