The nurses on my ward have been phenomenal. I’ve only had one or two European nurses this time, which I’m sure has been less than previously (I can’t help but have Brexit in mind), a few have been British, and a lot have been from the Philippines.
They’ve all been lovely, and it’s felt like having friends around.
There was the nurse who calmed me the morning of my MRI as we talked through how I was going to try and get through. She stayed with me for a while as we chatted and I talked her through all my coping strategies. She tried to find me an eye mask but couldn’t, but I was happy to use my mask mask anyway.
And the nurse who I had a lovely conversation with about family and how hard it can be when we’re apart. She’s had sisters die since Covid started and wasn’t able to get to see them. She had thought that working on an Oncology ward would be too much to her, since her father had died from cancer. But it turns out she loves it. It’s her calling. We also talked about how they’ve all been told to cancel Christmas celebrations because they might put the NHS and patients at risk. That must have been hard to come to terms with more compromises, especially when everyone else is still just running around as if there’s no such thing as a pandemic.
There were the wonderful nurses who helped out with my PICC line. One of the lumens was being difficult and the other had been working but started being temperamental. I was getting really worried about losing my only access to my veins. So they all put in extra time and effort and care in to making my PICC line work again. We put some special magic stuff in it and then left it a couple of hours. And we celebrated when it worked. I was so relieved.
There were the chats I had with the nurse about writing. He didn’t end up assigned to my bay again but when he occasionally had to pop over to help with something, we would wave excitedly, like old friends.
There were times when they really went above an beyond in taking time and being patient on things that night have seemed inconsequential but felt huge
It was like lots of little Rose‘s (my fave nurse, and always my benchmark for the perfect nurse). Though of course they are not at all like her and she is incredibly unique. There is no ‘Rose scale’, but I’ve learned that there is certain quality that all the best nurses have. And you can’t see it or understand it, but you can feel it.
They’re the ones who remember things that had happened previously, who see how you’re doing and sense what might be wrong, who go the extra step to make sure they’re supporting you, who end up treating you holistically because they see you as a human and not just a task. They think of things that might help you as opposed to waiting until you think to ask of something.
And I felt ripples of the compassion of Rose around me a lot in my stay.
And it does speak as well to a type of calling, I think. I mean… how patronising to say a nurse’s job must be their calling, that’s akin to society collectively calling them ‘Angels’ or ‘heroes’ but the government not paying them more. They’re not Angels, they are doing a job, like anyone else.
Nurses can be very good without it having to be their calling. But also you can feel it when there is an element of that in why they do what they do. And it lifts my soul to see it.