When I say to fellow nurses during Nurses Week, “Thank you for everything you do,” what I am saying is thank you for:
Of course all the close attention you pay to your patients, safe med administration, the turning, the bathing, lifting, oral care, eye care, skin care, wound care;
The hand-holding, teaching, empathizing, listening, reassuring, playing, protecting, advocating;
But also the courage and grit to do things to and for your patient that hurt your own heart because you know it hurts them, but benefits them in the long run, or at least you hope;
Taking the blows of anger and weight of immeasurable sorrow from family members who don’t know what to do with the devastation they feel;
Opening your entire life worldview to vulnerability as you live experiences that deeply challenge notions of faith, life, hope, joy, love, loyalty, and what it means to help others;
Negotiating hard, chaotic, complicated conversations to try and make your patient’s experience less chaotic and complicated;
Working a job that’s full of life-changing stories but achingly difficult to talk about, so you carry it all in your heart even when breaking from the weight;
Sacrificing the bliss that would be yours if you lived ignorant of all the most agonizing stories of suffering that you intimately witness;
Shaping a harsh, unfamiliar environment into one that also holds tenderness and a constant presence because of who you are at the bedside;
Being the light of companionship in likely the darkest, loneliest and most isolating time of someone’s life.
Nurses, thank you for EVERYTHING you do.