Prior to this 13 day stay at Cooper University Hospital and additional 5 days at Innova Rehab the only time I’d spent in the hospital was when I was 4 years old. If you’ve never spent any time in the hospital you have no idea how hard nurses work and just how difficult their job is.
They are for all intents and purposes your primary caregivers. In addition to actual medical duties like administering medications, drawing blood and checking vital signs (as if that wasn’t a full time job in and of itself) the same people help you in and out of bed, help you on to the bedpan or toilet, wipe you, bathe you, clothe you, change your sheets and make your bed. Oh and they bring you three meals a day and take your tray away when you’re done. It takes a special sort of someone to do all of that and maintain not only a pleasant demeanor but also treat each patient (and their family) with patience and kindness.
It’s hard to be helpless, it’s even harder to have to ask another person, a stranger no less, to help you on to a bedpan and then have to have them wipe you when you are done I was mortified to have to ask the nurses in the critical care ICU to do this for me. Not once did I feel like I was troubling them. The dignity and respect I was treated with was humbling. The nurses I encountered during my time in the hospital and rehab were nothing short of amazing.
There are some days I just don’t remember so there are some nurses I just can’t tell you about. The nurses mentioned below are not the only ones who did a great job they are the ones who stick out most in my mind.
Cathy/Christie/Something with a C – I woke up on Friday. On Saturday I needed a Cat Scan. I was very anxious but didn’t want to be knocked out and miss out on visiting with my family, who were all back in my room. She promised to give me something mild. But that’s not what sticks out in my mind most about her. She talked to me and Chuck (he was allowed to come with me) about her pets and her upcoming trip to New York to help soothe our jangled nerves while we waited for the Cat Scan. Most of all I remember her saying, “I’ll stay with you. I’ll be right here when you’re done.”
Chatty Frank – He was my nurse Saturday night. All of my nurses were friendly and talkative but Frank was especially kind, chatty and personable. He let Chuck stay and watch a movie with me on my laptop until after 11pm. It may not seem like a big deal but it was to me. It allowed me to doze off to sleep with Chuck by my side. It was a great comfort and it made one of my first nights awake and alert in ICU less scary.
Richelle and Rosemarie – Richelle and Rosemarie took care of me on Sunday and Monday. I was feeling better by now and was more talkative. I don’t know how to explain it to you so that it makes sense but their presence was comforting. They talked to me. Not that my other nurses hadn’t but now that I was in better shape the interaction helped quiet my anxiety and made me feel safe.
Melissa (I think that was her name) – I moved to the ICU step down unit and got my first real taste of being out on the actual hospital floor. My room was right in front of the nurses station so I heard it all. I especially enjoyed listening to rounds every day. During my stay on this unit students nurses visited for two days. Melissa (I hope that was her name) “adopted” me. She helped me get washed in the bathroom and let me wash what I could of myself while I stood. She even washed my feet for me. Really, you just don’t know how hard it is to have to have complete strangers help you clean yourself. And how much less uncomfortable Melissa made it by talking to me and chatting away like two washer women. Don’t ever doubt that it is the little things that make the difference. They do.
I think this is long enough so I’ll end here. I’ll write about the rehab nurses in another post.