It’s National Nurses Week and, while I honor it every year, this year is different… and special. Last spring, one of my closest family members was diagnosed with a fast-growing and potentially deadly cancer. After exploring all the treatment options, we elected surgery – a radical choice, but the best option according to the several physicians we consulted.
The surgery occurred during the summer and, while the actual procedure went “perfectly,” the complications began right after the operation. The trouble started in the recovery room and it escalated and grew more complex during the rest of the hospital stay. The problems endured for many weeks after discharge.
The road to recovery felt endless and it was fraught with uncertainty and risk. The physicians and fellows who attended to us throughout those weeks were outstanding and I cannot praise them highly enough.
But the nurses were the true heroes and heroines of our uphill battle. Their excellence began during the first signs of complications in the recovery suite. The care they took to understand the patient’s background and needs was both impressive and deeply comforting to us – the frightened family.
As we waited outside the operating room, we had no idea that we were at the beginning of a very long journey to a clean bill of health. As time progressed, we would come to see that, at every juncture, the nurses were alert, prepared, knowledgeable, patient, kind, professional and responsive. Even with all those adjectives, I can’t convey clearly enough how present they were and how much confidence they instilled in us. Yes, they administered what was needed at the bedside or on the phone or in the office, but what they gave us was much more than those basics.
These nurses consistently asked questions and they genuinely listened to our concerns. They provided us with the information and perspective we needed all along the way.
I have chosen a career in healthcare because of professionals like this. These nurses’ humanity and excellence are tributes to all who are in their field. I am forever in their debt.