Grateful to Nurses

Robin Botie of ithaca, New York, restores a photograph of her daugher with two oncology nurses at Strong Memorial Hospital.“You can have all the ice cream cups you want,” the nurses at the oncology unit told me, back at the beginning of the journey through the wilds of cancer with my daughter. They knew I wasn’t hungry so much as in need of kindness. But even more than kindness, I desperately needed to know Marika was in good hands, that the people around her cared. Over the course of her cancer, hundreds of nurses would come to look into Marika’s eyes, check her vitals, listen as she scored her pain on scales of 1 to 10, and treat her like a princess. And even when I hollered at the nurses, the time they barred me from her room (as per the princess’s request), I was thoroughly grateful for all their caring.

National Nurses Week, an opportunity to honor the hard work and dedication of nurses, is May 6th through 12th. From the bottom of my broken heart I’m sending out my warmest wishes to nurses everywhere. And many thanks, especially, to the ones who carried sweet light into our nightmare.

Cheers to the nurses who showed me the secret shower in the hospital mop closet. To the nurses who let Marika sneak her puppy into the hospital room and brought doggie treats. Thanks to the nurse who gently washed my daughter’s hair as she lay unconscious in the ICU. And to the one who sang to her. Hugs to the two nurses who, when Marika ran out of underpants and I bought her Jockey briefs, used their lunch break to go buy her bikinis and thongs. When Marika had to miss her senior prom, those same nurses decorated an empty room with balloons and crepe paper, added a boom-box with favorite tunes, propped Marika up in bed with prom dress hiding catheters and IV tubes, and invited her boyfriend over for a private prom-night. Nurses brought Marika books and CDs, stuffed animals, an electric keyboard, and restaurant-takeout recommendations. They made her chocolate ice cream milkshakes.

One day I found Marika flushing out her own vein-access port under the careful guidance of an oncology nurse. Beaming with pride, Marika announced, “Mom, I got accepted into the nursing program at University of Technology Sydney.” Inspired by the people who had kept her going with their kindness and skills, Marika had decided to become a nurse herself.

Two weeks after that though, the princess’s situation had changed. Her journey was ending. Nurses from the three units Marika had frequented over the almost-three years of cancer came by in pairs to see her. They silently stood over their princess one last time. There were no words. They left me with hugs. And a feeling of having been taken care of and held in warmest kindness.

 

What is your nurse story?

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4 thoughts on “Grateful to Nurses

  1. Elaine Mansfield

    I’m with Lynne. This is so powerful and inspiring. An older male nurse, a Vietnam War vet with a pocked mark face, was incredibly tender and loving with Vic in his last hospital stays. Then there were the nurses in the stem cell transplant unit: healers, cheerleaders, mothers, guides, bearers of hope, and teachers of compassion. This should be submitted to a nurse’s journal, don’t you think?

    Reply
    1. Robin Botie Post author

      I think I remember that older male nurse at Strong. We must have had a lot of nurses in common. I wonder if any of them are still working there? Sometimes I think I should go visit there. It would be a major thing to do, as I still look at Rochester and Strong Memorial Hospital as the place I last “left” Marika. Would need great support to actually go back to Strong. But I also feel like I must do this. And I must do it before I end up going back there to visit a friend. Seems inevitable to me that I’ll one day want to visit a friend who’s stuck in the Oncology Unit there. If I don’t end up there myself.
      There must be some site collecting “My Favorite Nurse” stories somewhere. Too late for paper journal, but -?

      Reply
  2. Lynne Taetzsch

    Robin, there are no words to describe what you wrote today–just that I am grateful for every word. And grateful for the love and caring of nurses all over the world.

    I have two sisters-in-law who were nurses and a niece who is one now. I thank them, too.

    Reply
    1. Robin Botie Post author

      Cheers, Lynne. Aren’t you lucky to have nurses right in your family! I used to have a mother-in-law who was a nurse. She was not only a warm, caring person but she was also a terrific source of information. On almost everything. I always felt safe around her. She’d seen and handled it all. So grateful for having had her in my life. Now, I’m gonna go find a local nurse or two, to thank with flowers.

      Reply

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