Last Saturday I had the honor of speaking at a nurses' convention. This was a group of folk, mostly women, who spend 40 hours a week on the oncology ward at local hospitals. I have a special place in my heart for these people. They are angels right here on earth.
How in the heck do you do that? Why in the heck would you do that?
These women are our interpreters. We had one doc who was just too smart for his own good:
“Ms. Tanner, your epidemioctagal levels are elevated and your pennial nervotian might have to be severed into spinial compatulas.”
I’d be taking notes furiously. When he left the room, I’d ask Lisa, “You got any idea what he said?”
We would then ask our nurse, who was smart, but who could also speak in sentences that English speaking college educated people could understand.
“So he said that her epidemioctagal levels are, ahh, elevated and her pennial nervotian well, he said, it might have to be severed into spinial compatulas. Is that bad?”
“Oh no. She’s fine. I just need to put a band-aid on her toe.”
At the conference, I asked my audience why they did what they did. I shared my admiration.
I told the group, "I couldn't do what you do.”
One yelled back at me from the audience, “There is NO WAY I could raise three girls on my own!”
"Yea," I responded, "I'm raising them alone, but I didn't choose to. You made a conscientious decision to serve and care for people who are facing the biggest adversity imaginable."
I'm just too selfish. I want to do something in life that makes ME happy. I don't want to deal with pain and suffering. I don't want to face the potential of death day in and day out.
Thank goodness there are some out there who are this selfless. Those who care more about others than they do themselves. There are those out there who gain tremendous satisfaction out of serving others, caring for others, making life better for someone in need.
These nurses do this work for people they have never met before. They take care of us and our kids. They make us laugh. They listen to us and believe in us. And yet, we take them for granted. We pay them a pittance, and they keep on keeping on.
I don't suppose at this point in my life I'm going to make a significant career move. I'm certainly never going to be comfortable sticking someone with a needle or removing a spleen. But what I can do is spend a little more time being thankful and appreciating those around me who make our lives better.
So thanks to all of you great nurses, oncology and others. You’re the ones who take our temperatures. You're the ones who build relationships with us and who know how hard this is for our families. You are the ones who treat us like real people, with humor, love and care.
You are angels here on earth.