The Healing Powers of Good Nurses
Courtney Nicoline James
I have wanted to write this piece for a while now but as always procrastination got the best of me. This time however, I’m glad it did. It’s been a constant in and out of hospitals these last two years with plenty of healing and some unfortunate reverse healing. When it’s a constant whirl of grey walls and IV pump beeps it is a struggle to keep your spirits up and stay positive. You hear horror stories of abuse and negligence associated with all hospitals, both big and small, more so now than ever. Social media advancements shed light on these happenings but rarely highlight the extra step nurses usually take to guarantee maximum strength. I think society has forgotten the comfort and care nurses excel at. Are all nurses perfect 100% of the time? No. Are you? No. Nurses have an extremely hard job and work long shifts without breaks, food, drinks, checking in on their own families, or using the bathroom even. This is not meant to demean or negate the harder experiences some may have had, but I am blessed enough to say that I have always had wonderful nursing and zero complaints. Some better than others, but I like to believe I caught them on an off night, and that says a lot with my infinite office visits, tests, ER trips, and hospital stays throughout several different hospitals from New York to Maryland, small towns to big cities. To stand out amongst all the good, you must excel, and these following nurses did just that and more.
During one of my longest hospital stays, I met a truly remarkable nurse. I was on her unit for a week before being transferred to a different unit, to my dismay. I have trouble with change in the medical world. Once I am comfortable with a floor and know the unit I do not like to change. “Unbelievable!” were her first words to me when she got the call that out of all her patients, I was the one bed management had chosen to transfer. She had a gentle touch and a sweet laugh. She knew how to minimize pain without heavy narcotics or babying you. Most importantly, she took her time with patients and everything was “oh it’s no problem!” making you feel as if you are the only patient on the entire floor. She truly was one of the most hands-on nurses I have ever had during my week stay. Her strength was advocating for patients. I had come up from having an NG tube placed and she took one look and me and one look at the tube and immediately new something was wrong and that this was not going to work for nutrition and immediately got on the phone with the doctors. Threw my tears and vomiting episodes she helped me stay clean and calm, assuring me everything was being done to have it removed. She kept on top of everything and never forgot one small thing and followed up without you even having to ask. On more than one occasion we had got talking and she spoke of her family and life in another country and the hardships of life and her strength shown. She talked of her family and of yours and got to know you as a person, not a patient. She laughed with me and at one point cried with me. She truly cared and part of my anxiety makes me constantly worry that I am burdening someone or asking too much to which she always quickly shut down. I looked forward to her shifts knowing she would bring comfort and peace of mind which truly helps in the healing process.
One of my most recent hospital stays proved that sometimes laughter is the best medicine. It was an outpatient surgery and I only had her that one day I was there, yet she made a huge impact anyways. Due to the short nature of time she didn’t really know who I was or most of my health history, but she comforted patients with laughter and distraction. For anyone who has ever had surgery, you know how painful waking up can be. With this nurse, tears quickly turned into laughter and before I knew it she was done with what she had come in to do and the worst part was over without having known it even started. Any nurse that can completely distract you from the first few hours of post op pain deserves a gold star.
I have had nurses laugh when they get intestinal juice on them from working with my j-tube instead of being disgusted and making a big deal out of it which would have in turn made me feel bad. I have had nurses make it their goal to convince me to go into nursing as they believe in me and the impact I could make when I doubt myself. I have had nurses take unwanted news and turn the perspective around or convince me I do not need to worry. If I do need to worry, they worry with me. There was a time I stayed on a floor very restrictive to visitors outside of certain hours and phones turned off during various hours. I had to have an EKG done which came back abnormal and was rushed for an echocardiogram and then anxiously wait for a cardiac specialist to come consult. When the news came back good, she seemed happier than I was, high fived, the phone for me to call my parents to relieve their worries as well. Other workers on the floor did not agree with my special privilege to use the phone however she wasn’t hearing anything of it. I even had a nurse who did not know me from Adam in the recovery unit after surgery track down my doctor who was off duty and have him immediately change my status from NPO so I could have dinner as I had not eaten in over 24 hours due to this procedure and he wanted to ensure that I did not have to wait until the following morning when patient meals opened again. He found himself with only 12 minutes to do all of this and ended with one minute to spare. I never saw him again after I was taken out of recovery and back to my unit.
The impact nurses have on the healing process is remarkable and cannot be duplicated. Please remember they are human too. Always thank a nurse, they are key to your care!
Fely – Johns Hopkins Hospital Osler 5
Ashlee- Crouse Hospital RRC
To every nurse at every office visit, hospital stay, test, procedure, or phone conversation
Thank you for Your Care