International day of Nurses
It is the day of the year that we celebrate the wonderful and important profession that is nursing. If you are someone who has rarely had the need to have much interaction with or be looked after by a nurse; you are particularly healthy and you should feel grateful for your robust health and the health of those you care about. You are a unicorn of humans. The rest of us have probably had at least one or two experiences that have shown us the amazing work that nurses do.
I have had many stays in hospital over my life time. In 2015 alone I was in hospital a total of six months. Most of this time was spent in the Nephrology ward and the intensive care ward. I had many wonderful nurses. The kindness and care that I was shown still amazes me whenever I get flashbacks to that time. There were a few that stood out though and it is these five nurses that I would like to discuss and marvel at with you.
Paul was a buff nursing manager that always managed to find time to come to my bed and shoot the breeze with me. He would flick through my lit maga and my magazine that showcases artistic woman all over the world, its called Riposte. He would look at a nurse that was about to take my blood and just know it was not going to work. When he saw that I was reading The Hate Race by Maxine Beneba Clark and heard what it was about he asked if he should write a book about being the only Asian Australian at his school. I said he should. When nurses would call from the door to my hospital room for Paul to come help. He would say that unless it was an emergency he was busy talking with me. He made me feel like I was not just a body under surveillance. He made me laugh and more importantly for my ego, I made him laugh. He have excellent blood tests.
Brianna was tall and had short curly hair. She was wonderful at conversation as well. She even lent me her ipod and let me give her grief about the contents. She was a huge country and western fan. Another fault in our affection was her hatred of the Simpsons. ”I hope you still love me.” She said as she set up all my meds for the nightime dosages. I did. Brianna would sometimes come to my bedside and pull the curtain around us so she could start and finish her coffee before it got too cold. We would talk and I would tell her how I was worried about going home and getting back into the real world. I told her I was getting used to being in here ( a truly horrendous thing to think). She would assure me that with my brains and the many friends who came to visit, the outside world needed me and not to forget that.
Paula was a nurse I did not like at first, proving that first impressions are not always correct. I thought she was abrupt and a bit brisk. It was probably because she was busy as all hell. Any ways she and I got along famously after the initial meeting. Paula was short and round and really funny. She would poke her head in to see me even if she did not have me on her shift. She loved coming to my bed and asking for gossip and the like. She would ask about my visitors which was pretty juicy with angst and drama at times. I feel like there should be a television series about people with kidney disease who come in and out of hospital with alarming regularity. It was Paula who told me about the high level of attractiveness she found in my father. This is not so weird as my father was my kidney donor so he actually was a patient on the ward for a week. Paula must have had him (as a patient) on one of her shifts.
Kelly was one of my nurses while I was in intensive care post transplant. She sat at the desk at the end of my bed like an angel. She was big eyed and blond haired and seriously so sweet that it almost gave me a tooth ache. Her patience with my nervousness about getting out of bed and sitting up in a chair to eat some actual food for the first time in a while, was exemplary. I was very full of water weight due to the operation and so weighed more than I ever have my whole life. I was such a little sook about the whole chair thing. But when I was finally sitting and able to eat the meal in front of me, it was the best chicken soup I ever had. Kelly and I would have great chats about everything and anything I could think of. She told my mother that I was one of her favourite patients because I could carry on a conversation. For people in intensive care that is not always possible.
Andy was another intensive care nurse. He was the very first nurse I had when I woke up from my transplant operation. He did some very good and probably difficult to carry out, things for fussy little me. He managed to get a fan set up so I could feel a breeze on my hot little face. He eventually removed the awful compression socks from my legs. I hated them so much. I know I needed them. Andy was calm and kind and did not get angry at my constant wimpering for water even though I was not allowed any except a tiny amount to swallow my ant rejection mychophenylate tablets.
Lyndall was an experienced nurse who still loved her job and it showed. She was one of my biggest cheerleaders and gave the best blood tests. I made her laugh heaps with my sarcasm and and wicked observations.She was in the lift with me just the other day. I was back at the hospital for my specialist appointment. She smiled wickedly at me and said my full name. I grinned back at her. She hugged me and asked how i was. I told her how much better I am now since the last time she saw me. ”Still skinny, though.” She said. ”That cannot be changed, I’m afraid.” I told her.
I saved Lucy till last because she was pretty much my absolute top fav. All my nurses were great. Lucy was a grad year nurse who had the sort of talent and personality that would make her the best nurse anywhere. Or, maybe I think this because it was with Lucy that I felt the most of a connection. She had a Kraken tattoo on her right arm among others. She was from Tasmania and had a rather important writer father. I think she did tell me but I have now forgotten. i remember one Sunday afternoon Lucy came to my room to change the bed across from mine for an incoming patient. We talked and giggled for ages. She told me about her love life and the ups and downs of her life. She told me about how on the weekend ( Valentines day) she had been helping her partner move out of the place they had shared and making me laugh about the irony of it all. There was one time another nurse was constantly trying and failing to get blood from me. I was crying about how I used to have good veins before they got ruined by all this constant blood testing crap. Lucy comes in says kindly that maybe she could give it a go. Lucy quickly and smoothly gets my blood out of my vein and into the tube. it is Lucy who tells my partner that there has been some complications and I have been taken to intensive care. She is upset that I pulled this crap on her last day on the kidney ward. Unaware of just how bad things will get for me, she tells my partner that I didn’t even say goodbye. By the time I was back on the ward and getting better, Lucy was gone. Im so sorry, Lucy. I am pretty pissed about not saying goodbye to you as well.
Special mention needs to go to the nurse that I cannot remember but who made an impression on my partner. his was the nurse who was sitting on a chair at the end of my bed in a private room. She had one job and one job only. She was to sit and watch me, thats it. She was not able to read or watch television. She had to sit and watch me for her entire shift of eight hours. It was because I had been a bit naughty. I had in my psychotic and paranoid episode ( one of many) pulled out a very important medical tube from my neck. A tube that was funnelling much needed medication into my very very ill body. My partner promised to watch me for the time it took the poor nurse to go to the toilet and get something to eat. Thank you for your unwavering attention, that would have been a real drag to watch me after I had done the interesting and badass thing.
One of my sisters is completing her grad year in nursing at this very moment and I could not be more thrilled and proud of for for choosing a profession that has so closely and overwhelmingly contributed to the fact that I am alive today. I have friends who are doing the same thing and I just want to tell them all that I am in awe of you and there are not enough thank you cards and chocolates and flowers in the world to illustrate my gratitude.