An open letter to nurses…

Hello to those who have both been angered and upset by the latest scandal from The View and hello to those ladies who perhaps never intended to spark a firestorm while they sat on The View’s panel.

I am not a nurse.

I have sure needed quite a few nurses in my life though. Hasn’t everyone? Some I remember vividly, others I have forgotten in name, but am thankful for just the same. No, not every one of them has been pleasant or exactly competent, but I can say that goes across the board for every profession. That should not make the profession any less honorable, any less self-sacrificing, any less gallant. They are the helpers that I so often tell my children to admire and look to.

I have met many a nurse in my almost thirty years. I mean many. In fact, I am blessed to call some nurses my very cherished family and friends. So, ladies and gentlemen, here’s to you!

To the nurse who took care of my seventeen year old self, who had just managed to flip a large truck three times across the road and crash into a tree. The nurse who wiped blood oozing from my arm and neck. The nurse who picked glass from my head, chest, and arms. The nurse who wiped the dirt off of my face and assured me that everyone else in the vehicle with me were going to be ok. I know she was not always able to say those words to her patients.

To the nurses who took care of a friend who battled cancer for two years in and out of the hospital. The one who quietly tiptoed into her room and turned off her television after she had fallen asleep. The one who smoothed her hair back when she said she could barely lift her arms to do it herself. The one who understood our denial, anger, tears, and random bursts of hope. The one who said it was time to say goodbye. I know she would never get over having to say that phrase to loved ones so frequently.

To the nurse who happened to be on call when I had my second child, just as she was with my first. She was excellent through my second delivery, but even better through my first. Two very different situations, two very different children, yet the same steady nurse throughout the years. I remember her name and could pick her out of a crowd; she was my helper, my coach, and even though I knew some of the answers to my own questions, I looked to her for not only assurance, but affirmation. She was there through one of the hardest, most terrifying points in my life. I know she was scared, too, but she never let it show.

To the nurses, both, whom at eight months pregnant were too busy taking care of me throughout the night after said deliveries, to worry about their own babies. I am certain, beyond certain, that their feet were killing them. The one who was on call all throughout the night and was ever so gentle with me. The one who never raised her voice or got angry with me, when all I wanted to do was sleep. The ones who handed me my beautiful babies when I could not get up to get them myself. I know they were exhausted, physically and mentally.

To the nurses who took care of my great-grandfather who had Alzheimer’s. To the one who bathed his strong body when his brittle, broken mind could no longer function. To the one who endured his abuse when he could no longer control his temper. To the one who answered his repeated questions day in and day out when he could not remember his name. To the one who protected his family members from the horrors that Alzheimer’s produces. I will never know how difficult those times were.

To my nurse friend, who was there when another close friend passed away. She painstakingly answered my questions, even the ones too hard to ask, in a way I could understand. She was honest, even though the truth was raw and burned like a fire in my stomach. She was brave and strong and remained in the still silence when the time came. I know she was put there on that day for a reason.

To another friend of mine who is a nurse, who took care of me in the operating room when I had surgery while 16 weeks pregnant. To the one who monitored my baby’s heartbeat, as well as mine, as I lay on the cold operating table. To the one who saw me completely unclothed, wallowing in pregnancy and fear, and never brings it up to mock me. I am thankful that I had a friend in the room with me because I know things could have gone completely wrong in that OR.

To another treasured friend who is new to the group of nurses. I see how hard she worked, I know the late hours she pulled and time she sacrificed, all so that she could one day wear such a costume and obtain a doctor’s instrument. I know the ridicule will never get easy to withstand.

You see, nurses have touched my life since the moment I was created. I believe you can say the same. For me, I trust one group in particular with the greatest treasures of my life: my children. If that is not having the utmost confidence in someone(s), then I do not know what is. I value them for what they do. Not just anyone can do it. That, to me, is not someone who merely puts on a costume. That, to me, is not someone who is merely playing doctor with a doctor’s stethoscope. I can not even begin to name the immeasurable ways that Elaine, Stephanie, Lori, and my mother have taken care of my two treasures in their two and four years.

Perhaps I have saved the best for last. My own mother, who worked so hard in school, all while having three kids in three different schools. She was swamped in schoolwork, lessons, vocabulary words, mathematical equations, science, clinical hours, blood, vomit, and sheer exhaustion. Yet, she never missed a game, or play, or dinner time. She taught my siblings and I more than textbook definitions; she taught us that dreams do come true, when you put the effort and time into it. We were her pretend patients when she felt the need to study, even though she was born for this job. Thanks to her, we knew more about STDs than most other children our ages because we were her audience when she practiced her presentations. To this day my sister and I will never be able to eat cauliflower or even say the word out loud without me giggling and her dry-heaving into a trashcan. We never got off easy. I am so thankful for that.

I was moved by the speech from Ms. Colorado. I am aware that not everyone was, which is ok,. However,the subtle not so subtle attempts to demean her as a person, as a woman, as well as her profession are downright sad and shameful. Nursing is an honorable profession. Crack open a history book and learn the origins. These men and women have risked their lives throughout history for their fellow human being, far more than any comedian ever has. Nurses deal with people every day who are the rudest, most impatient, dirtiest, strangest, and those deemed too unlovable for anyone else to help. Yet there they are, 24 hours a day, always within reach.

I for one can see that nurses transcend all race, gender, and religion. They span the age line. They are tall, short, overweight, and thin. Most are weathered and still some untested, at least for now. They see death and gore, they see shattered lives and utter sadness every single day. They wear those costumes to fend off liquids that I as a mother of two toddlers still cringe at: urine, mucus, feces, spit, vomit, blood, etc. Yet it is acceptable to mock that and poke fun of a true calling?

I see many people ending their letters, comments, and postings with direct lines to Joy Behar herself, saying: “hopefully one day you will never need a nurse.”  I will not end mine that way. Again, I am not a nurse, but I have sure needed quite a few nurses in my life. Joy, I know you have, too. I do not wish any harm on you, so please do not misunderstand my next statement. I hope you do indeed require a nurse one day. I hope you meet one, see the lines in her or his face, the face that may be young in age, but has weathered through countless storms already. I hope you see her or him as a strong, determined, loyal, warrior who will go to the ends of the world to advocate for you when no one else will. I hope you see that he or she will immediately pull out their stethoscope and listen with their trained ear, reach with their skilled hands, and feel with their battered heart to help you, to possibly save you.

Thank you for reading,
Not a nurse, just Jaimie


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