I had quite the experience a couple of weeks ago.
My son was born 5 weeks premature at Lockport hospital via an emergency c-section. He started off screaming when he came into the world, but when removed from the operating room his breathing became problematic. His retractions were strong and you could see his little ribs as he struggled to get air.
The STAT team from Women and Children’s Hospital was brought in. They had to intubate young Warren and squeeze a bag attached to that tube to help him breathe. He was then whisked away to W&C where I later joined him for a few days while my wife had to stay back at Lockport and recover.
It was a stressful time, but it had a happy ending as mom and son were reunited 3 days later and they were able to come home the next day.
How does one manage those stresses, seeing his newborn son poked, prodded, and hooked to oxygen while his wife was 45 minutes away unable to leave her room?
It was tough, but through those 5 days between 2 hospitals there was one constant that helped us greatly: nurses.
They cheered me on through Warren’s birth; consoled me while Warren was in his moments of crisis; gave me hope for his recovery; gave my little boy tender loving care; nursed him to health and regularly checked on Warren – and me.
They showed love and interest for their littlest patient while doing the same for his doting, half-scared dad. Their care and concern were genuine and done while doing the duties that comes with bringing Warren into this world, checking his vitals, feeding him, testing his blood, making sure his IV and oxygen took, and so much more.
These multifaceted women were truly special. They eliminated my despair and made me feel good about, and trusting of, people and modern medical science.
This wasn’t my first positive experience with nurses.
I try to stay out of the hospital but I ended up in Lockport Hospital back in 1999 after appendix exploded, which I had ignored, chalking it up to food poisoning. That led to a real poisoning of my insides and I came close to dying. I needed emergency surgery and spent almost a week in the hospital while losing 30 pounds which I didn’t have to lose to begin with.
All of the nurses took really good care of me, day and night, making sure I was battling infection while being kept comfortable – I needed special comfort because after the first day I told them no more pain killers, despite the open 6 inch wound in my abdomen and tubes inside my torso. They were incredible. I can especially remember one nurse, Mrs. Struckman, wheeling me out at the end of the week with a tear in her eye, so happy that I survived what many people wouldn’t have and that I was able to go home.
In both the recent adventure and that one 18 years ago, we were truly and fully cared-for. But, the most remarkable thing was – we weren’t their only patients! They did a lot not only for my family, but also for other patients and families in those hospitals. Those nurses balanced upon a stressful tightrope over their 12-hour shifts taking care of all of us with our own unique problems.
That’s something nurses do every day, all year, all their working lives, with limited fanfare other than an appreciative smile or tear from a patient’s parent, or the joy that comes with that patient being better and heading home.
In my darkest days when I almost died or when I thought my son might die, nurses were there to save us and give us hope.
That’s more than a career choice; that’s a higher calling!
For that, one cannot help but think that nurses might just be angels on Earth.
I’m so thankful that those wonderful angels are here with us, performing their miracles, small and large, every day.
From the 20 March 2017 Greater Niagara Newspapers