Dear Recovery Room Nurse:
Several weeks ago, you were assigned to care for me in the recovery room after my hysterectomy. And I just wanted to take the time to thank you for making me feel like a big bothersome pain in your behind. I think studies have shown how this attitude helps the post-surgical patient in the recovery room, which is to say, not at all.
You would think that under the influence of anesthesia and narcotics, that I might have been totally unaware of your attitude. Not so. I was painfully aware. And I haven’t forgotten either. I’m like that. I don’t forget — especially in cases where those who are charged with looking after the young, the weak, the powerless or the infirm fail so miserably.
As I struggled to regain consciousness, I tried to focus my fuzzy eyes. I looked over to see you sitting on a stool, restlessly flipping through some papers and obsessively checking your watch and sighing repeatedly and pointedly. It took all the strength I had to raise my head to see that no one else was around, that everyone else had gone home. And then I realized that I was probably keeping you. I know. It was Valentines Day and you probably had better things to do. I’m sorry. I hadn’t planned to allow my respiration to slow to six breaths per minute and delay you. I had planned to get back to my room in time for cocktails and crudités. Looks like I ruined everyone’s evening.
When I called to you that I was in extreme pain, you didn’t even bother to look up. “Well, you just had surgery,” you snapped. Thank you so much for pointing out the obvious. That was helpful. “I’ve been through this before. This is more pain, this is intolerable,” I managed to call to you even though my throat was raw and I could barely speak above a whisper. I called to you because you couldn’t bother to get up off your backside to come to me. “Oh really?” you remarked snidely, “You’ve had a hysterectomy before?” Then I had to make a decision. What to do with what little strength I had?
a) Defend myself by telling you that this was my third abdominal surgery and that I was more than familiar with pain.
b) Beg for more pain medication.
c) Imagine myself flying off the gurney and beating the snot out of you with my own chart.
d) Make a mental note to write a strongly worded letter to the hospital president.
e) Trash you on my blog.
Answer: All of the above.
Few occupations provide the opportunity to really make a difference in the life of another human being – teacher and nurse most readily come to mind. You should probably be neither.
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Dear Judi, Irva, 4th Floor Nurses and PCTs,
I have thought of you many times since my recent stay in the hospital. I have been thinking of how to best express to you what a difference you made in my life in the two and a half days I was under your care. You did things for me, that really, only my own mother should have to do. You bathed me, fed me and cared for me and you went out of your way to see that I was comfortable and that my pain was manageable. You never once made me feel like I was an inconvenience to your day. You made me feel like I was the most important patient on the floor. I cannot thank you enough or express in words how far that went in speeding my recovery.
I am making a donation to your hospital’s nursing scholarship program in your name so that there might be more nurses like you, nurses who love people and have a heart to serve.