May 6, 2015
I sat there, tears streaming down my face, trying to catch my breath. There she was, hugging me, telling me everything was going to be alright, and asking if I wanted her to drive me home – which happened to be a good hour away and we were having an ice storm.
I was at my doctor’s office and a physician, who was not my regular cardiologist, had just informed me that I had a second life-threatening heart rhythm disorder and would need an Implantable Cardioversion Defibrillator. He left the room briskly after giving me the details, but she stayed. “She” was Laura – a nurse. Laura is truly amazing. I will never forget her compassion and humanity that day. She became a rock I could count on when the going got tough. It might have just been all in a day’s work for her, but to me, it meant the world.
It wasn’t enough for Laura to just take care of my medical needs. She recognized that there was a whole lot of healing I had to do that wasn’t just about my heart. After I got my device, she invited me to an incredible conference for young people with ICDs that she and some other nurses were part of organizing. Sitting at my first support group with other patients, I watched Theresa, another nurse, wipe her eyes as she cried along with us while we told our stories.
I met Helen, another nurse who took it upon herself to publish a book of stories from people who had ICDs, to be given to patients who were facing them. I was honored when she asked me to submit my stories to both editions she published.
Laura, Theresa and Helen are simply incredible women. They give so much of themselves to improve the lives of patients. They volunteer precious time to do extra things that have done wonders for me and countless others. They are special. They are skilled. They are caring. They make a difference. They are nurses.
Today begins National Nurses Week. Every year the week is celebrated beginning May 6 and concludes on May 12 to coincide with the birthday of Florence Nightingale, considered the founder of professional nursing.
Nurses make vital contributions to our health care system. There are many incredible Spartan nurses in hospitals and offices working every day to improve lives. MSU’s College of Nursing is addressing the national nursing shortage, leading federally funded research and practicing in community-based settings across Michigan and around the world. Check out the beautiful MSUToday feature, Taking MSU’s Vitals: National Nurses Week, to learn more about the College of Nursing’s impact.
Seung Hee Choi is one of many nurses in the college who is looking to make an impact and improve the health of people. She is an assistant professor whose research interests include tobacco use, smoking cessation, risky health behaviors and quality of life. Read her FACULTY VOICE: No Ifs, Ands or Buts, to learn about her work.
Lauren Adams is a student in the college who is excited about the opportunities she’s had by studying nursing. She's a first-generation college student and a senior from Detroit who participated in a study abroad learning experience in London last summer. She says she had a life-changing experience visiting the city of Eyam. The city suffered from the plague in the 17th century and was depicted in a book she read prior to her trip. Read her STUDENT VIEW: Life-changing Studies Abroad, to learn more about her experience.
Since that snowy day in the doctor’s office, I have spent a lot of time with Laura, Theresa and Helen. Sometimes it was related to my physical health, but they have given me so much more than just physical care. My scary health journey has been made so much smoother because of what they’ve given me and I’m grateful every day to call them my nurses and my friends.
Maya Angelou once said, “As a nurse, we have the opportunity to heal the heart, mind, soul and body of our patients, their families and ourselves. They may not remember your name but they will never forget the way you made them feel.”
I have had a lot more nurses cross my path than the three I’ve mentioned – that happens when you have countless appointments, tests and four surgeries in six years. I wish I could remember the names of all them, but I don’t. (I blame the twilight drugs). But I do remember that they have all had a part in healing my heart, mind and soul and I won’t ever forget them.
This week, think about the nurses who have crossed your path. If you’ve been lucky enough to have nurses like Laura, Theresa and Helen in your life – thank them. They probably don’t hear it nearly enough.
Photo by Derrick L. Turner