If you are truly lucky in life, you will at least once get to job that you can be really proud of. The type of job that you reminisce about and the stories from which you will tell for years to come. A job that even if you hated it, even if it was a hard slog, you could be proud of because of the people you got to help or the changes you were able to make.
That job for me was a dispatcher for police radio. Despite having good reasons for leaving, it’s a job I miss. Not only did I spend my days (and nights) getting police to where they needed to be, I did it alongside a fantastic group of people who were as proud of their job as I was. Yet for all the people I potentially helped, not one of them would know my name. And I don’t mind one little bit.
But I sit here now on the other side of the fence. I am someone who has been helped – literally saved – and I can barely tell you the tiniest detail of the group of people that did it.
I don’t speak of doctors or specialists or professors, but of nurses. Nursing isn’t an easy job. It’s one that many in the profession possibly would rather not do. But no matter what capacity you’ve done it in, it is a job I hope most are proud of.
In the last 12 months, I would have met over 30 nurses. Probably more. I could tell you the names of maybe eight. And how many have I had the chance to sincerely, personally thank? None.
Recovering from surgery was all about moving forward – one foot in front of the other, overcoming setbacks. My job was to get better, to focus on me. I didn’t think much about anyone else. But looking back I wonder how different things would have been without such wonderful people doing such a wonderful job.
Over my month in hospital, a bevy of nurses bathed me, dressed me, helped me in and out of bed, changed my dressings, emptied drains, opened my food, fetched doctors, administered medicine, helped me brush my hair. They also played with my son and brought him gifts. They smiled and treated me nicely when I was being a bitch. They sat there patiently as I cried at having to learn to give myself injections. They asked me questions about me and listened when I answered. They stood up to doctors for me. They cleaned poop off the floor as I learnt to manage my ileostomy bag. They came in every half an hour to change my pillows to ease my back pain. They showed genuine sympathy every time I was put back on nil by mouth or a new fever sent me right back into convulsions. One nurse (known only as ‘the rough one’) stopped a doctor from taking blood from my foot after 30 minutes of trying in both arms failed to produce anything. I loved her for that. (Later that week she would have her tooth knocked out by a cranky old bugger in the next room – but she still came in to work.)
In hospital there were the stomal nurses who taught me how to manage this new and strange protrusion from my abdomen and who always made themselves available, even for the smallest question. They signed me up to Ostomy NSW and the Medicare Stoma Appliance Scheme. They ordered my first lot of supplies and ensured I had all the paperwork I needed. Not to mention the nurses they referred me to at home for continued care.
Then there have been the homecare nurses who, for four months have come to my home at least twice a week to dress my scar which has been taking forever to heal!
When I have felt like rambling, these people have listened. When I have had questions, they have found answers. They have given me reassurance and reminded me it’s OK that I’m not yet back to where I used to be.
I will never be able to give enough thanks for everything these nurses have done for me. Most of them wouldn’t expect it.
But for the nurses I know who will read this, who juggle shift work, and ridiculous expectations and high workloads and family life and KPI’s/stats (which blows my mind because here I was thinking nursing was about caring not numbers) your work is greatly appreciated. Without you, the recovery process would be a lot longer. The fact that you can smile while cleaning us up and telling us it’s OK when we’re being completely unreasonable makes every bit of difference. It’s just that sometimes as patients we don’t realise that until much later.
So thank you for doing this…
When you feel like this…