I had a lovely breakfast with my cousin, and her family, yesterday and she was talking about her job as a nurse. She reminded me that I had missed International Nurses Day this week, a date when we stop to consider and appreciate these medical staff, around the world. She really got me thinking about all of the kind nurses that we have met with Joshua over the years, during our various hospital stays.
There is just one who, over 21 years later, I can still recall her name and can visualise her in my mind : Katie. We first met Katie when we were transferred to the Special Care Baby Unit (SCBU) in the evening of 5th of March 2001. Now Katie cannot have been working all of the time during our 11 days in SCBU, but she was assigned to us as a family and whenever she was needed, Katie was there. She took care of Joshua during many of his awful procedures such as his lumbar puncture and MRI scan. But most memorably for me, she was by my side when the consultant gave me Joshua’s diagnosis, when I was alone. She took the place of family at that moment and she quietly and calmly rang my husband and told him to come into SCBU early, saying simply “Emma needs you”, when I was crying too hard to speak. She was our lifeline during those critical days and we learned to rely on her.
After 11 days of excellent care, we were discharged and had to take our tiny, helpless baby home with us and of course, Katie was there to wish us well. We bought her a bouquet of flowers as a small thank you for all her love and care she had shown our new family. She was overwhelmed and she shocked me by saying that it was the first time that she had received flowers at work from a family. So, how else did families show their appreciation? She was only young so had maybe not been qualified for long, but she had more empathy in her little finger than that pediatric consultant had. We will always be grateful to her in particular, but incredible neonatal nurses everywhere.
Joshua has met numerous nurses during his 21 years and almost all of them have been kind and cheerful, as well as sensitive and loyal. There have been busy ones who hardly had time to acknowledging him, despite his thumbs up or high 5 gestures which are his greetings. There were the nurses in Middlesborough who had to give Joshua paraldyhide rescue medication when he would not stop fitting, once on the wards. It was powerful stuff that was administered rectally and it had to be carefully disposed of , as it melted the plastic syringe it came in. It had a toxic, potent smell that the nurses recognised along the corridors outside our large room, which we had to ourselves, and it gave the nurse who administered it, a blinding headache – but she still did it, despite harming herself, for the good of the patient. We were sad to be moved on to Leeds Infirmary, to his consultant at the time, and to a crowded, noisy pediatric ward, as we were incredibly well looked after there.
There was the local nurse at our Cottage Hospital in our home town, where we would take Joshua with his various head injuries, when he was small, sustained during seizures, despite wearing his helmet. He was well known there and we got a special service, but sadly it is no longer a Minor Injuries unit so we would have to travel for 30 minutes now if we needed that service. The building is still open but there are no nurses operating out of there now, just clinic appointments – Joshua goes for podiatry there. It was always reassuring to get checked out locally before heading to A&E in the city if they deemed it to be necessary and I am sure that this local facility kept unnecessary patients away from the A&E department. But I presume there was some logic behind closing all the cottage hospitals; they would have been well used as vaccination centres during the recent pandemic, instead leisure centres and churches had to be used.
So spare a thought for the amazing nurses in your life and show them some appreciation for what is a really tough job. To care and to work such long, busy hours day after day is awesome and far too often, their work goes unnoticed and the doctors get the credit. So thank you to all of the nurses in our lives.