Florence Nightingale to the rescue

What I am about to write is nothing new. Hundreds, thousands, millions before me have been singing their praises through the centuries. But I cannot but have to add my voice to the chorus.

What would we do without NURSES???

They truly are the guiding light of the medical profession. 

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Like a delicate defenseless flower in their hands

Through these past few months I’ve come to have quite a bit of experience of the medical world. And I must say, I’m one of the lucky ones, because the doctors who have been following me are exceptional. Starting with my GI specialist, who I truly believe should teach a course on bedside manners to student doctors. He’s phenomenal. So caring, warm, kind, and gentle. But at the same time knowledgeable, researched, and clear in his medical duties. The care I got from him and his team was exceptional, I really don’t have the words to convey how superbly they took care of me. As did my surgeon who, apart from performing a miraculous surgery, always took the time to gently answer all my questions. This care filtered down to his second-in-charge. Her bedside manners were so incredible, I actually told her so. This makes SUCH a difference to a patient undergoing recovery. Actually looking forward to meeting my doctors and knowing that they will take the time to listen to me, holistically, helped tremendously in my daily recovery.

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Dreaming of better days

And then we come to the nurses. The ones who are with us 24/7. The ones who see us at our best but mostly at our worst. This time round I experienced them as an older person would since I was pretty banged up after my surgery. My first lucid recollection was actually of the day after when the gentle Lara came by to help me wash. As an able-bodied, self-sufficient and independent woman of 41, this was quite a psychological challenge for me. But it was over in the blink of an eye with the least of fuss and I was made to feel at ease throughout. I became acutely aware of the care they were giving  my bed neighbour who was elderly and more bed-bound than me. And anytime you tell them thank you, the reply comes back quicker than tack – it’s our duty.

That phrase stuck with me – our duty.

Yes, it is their duty. It is their job. But how often do we find ourselves complaining at the lack of customer care we received at some outlet or restaurant? Now how about if that had to happen at a time when people are at their weakest, their most vulnerable, their most distraught? How much more tragic would that be?

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Dispensing love, care and humour throughout the day

And that’s why the nursing profession is so, so, so much more than duty. There has to be an element of vocation, accompanied by love for others, and willingness to care, even on your off-days. An aptitude to see the worst in people and somehow bring out the best in them. To care for them truly, deeply, and yet be able to let go should the worst happen. I cannot fathom how they do it – then again, maybe that’s why I’m not a nurse.

Finally, this time around, I also got to meet the unbelieveable stoma nurses, Jaclyn and Palma. I’m not quite sure where to begin. First off, keep in mind that their role is to make a patient get comfortable with a massively life-altering reality – having a bag stuck to your abdomen from which you expel waste. Their care has to, has to, be holistic. They are not only looking after the patient from a medical point of view, but also, perhaps more importantly, from a psychological and emotional point of view. I think I’m one of the lucky ones in that I was so fed up of being sick all the time and not having a life, that I have been seeing my surgery as a godsend. I don’t think I’ve ever been afraid or worried about the idea of a bag, and I’m not squeamish either. But dealing with this new reality was still going to take some getting used to and knowing that I have these two wonderful human beings to guide me along has made it so much easier. The first few days, when I could barely move, let alone take care of myself, all the more so. The minute I saw them appear around my curtain, relief flooded through me. And their gentleness and care, together with reassurance was what I truly needed to start coming to terms with my new reality. They were key players as I strove to get better and when I think of them, I automatically smile and feel a sense of peace. And now that I’m on the road to recovery at home, the community nurses who visit me daily are the ones who keep me sane and grounded, not afraid to face this new challenge head on.

So soldier on, army of nurses, we need you more than you can imagine! Thank you for everything you do, above and beyond your call of duty.

 

Shout out also to the amazing staff on Brown Ward M2 (where I was in October) and Yellow Ward S1 for their sterling care. Thank you, from the bottom of my heart.

Bonus track.

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