They Called and Said They’re Thankful


You may not feel appreciated at your job as you hang antibiotics and suction trachs, wipe poop and deal with dementia patients who are trying to escape. So I called a few friends who wanted to express their gratitude. I hope this gives you some satisfaction that what you’re doing day in and day out is, actually, very important.

Remember that woman who asked you to update her a husband, a boyfriend, and seven kids all (separately) on the phone several times during the day? She called and said she’s grateful. What about that guy who kept making the crude jokes about nurses giving bed baths? He said thank you (and he’s sorry about that). What about the septic, schizophrenic homeless man who cussed you out for twelve hours while you titrated his Levo and ran his CRRT? He sent a note, very heartfelt thanks (oh, and he wanted to mention that he’ll be back.) And then there’s the belligerent family member who you had to call the police on. Oh wait, everyone else says thank you for that. The family member definitely does not.

Then there’s your mom’s friend’s son-in-law. You remember, the intern who didn’t know a head from a foot and you successfully kept from killing anyone for an entire month’s ICU rotation? He’s a plastic surgeon now and he said you’ll be getting a thank you bonus check real soon. And you can’t forget the 400 pound lady who you had to push all the way to MRI, TWICE. And the family who asked you 46,578 times for ice chips. (sure, another cup? ok, well just wait a minute, I’m almost done. Can the pca get it? another cup, sure. it’s not cold enough? it’s crushed instead of cubes? it’s not made from Fiji water? DO YOU HAVE PICA?? LET’S GET A CBC STAT.)

Sometimes people actually do say thank you, bringing kind words, a heartfelt note or maybe even some cookies. Their words speak to our hearts and affirm our efforts- the pouring out of our souls for people we don’t even know. Other times people are too overwhelmed, or they forget, or they are unconscious. So even if they can’t or won’t say thank you, I will.

For all the times you’ve accidentally gotten splashed with urine a centimeter from your eye or had a Flexiseal pop out a few inches from your face, I say thanks. For all the times you’ve had to change scrubs during a shift. For every time you’ve almost gotten slapped by a delirious patient or bore the brunt of a family member’s exasperation. For every time you got stuck with double isolation… I’m grateful. For every time you sweated through your underwear during that burn dressing change. For the fact that you can smell CDiff from a mile away.

For all the TB patients. For all the times you had to travel with a TB patient. For every time the physician opened the wrong door to your TB patient’s room. For the fact that you’ve memorized the TB med regimen at this point. If I haven’t said it enough, you’re a rockstar.

For comforting that medicine doctor who cried for twenty minutes after sticking himself during a central line insertion (the patient did have Hep C by the way.) For all the times you’ve had to politely say “just a minute!” on the portable phone to your other patient as you do chest compressions. For holding a hand and wiping a tear while you watch the heart rate go flat. For charting long past your shift. For all the times you’ve patiently reassured people that Webmd is not the ultimate medical authority. For the number of times you’ve gotten a unit lecture on CLABSI’s. For all the times your friends have texted you photos of their rashes.

No one can disimpact like you. No one has trach suctioning skills like you. You’re a nursing gem, a diamond in the rough (or at least that’s what you look like most days). You get up at 4:45 am and get home at 8:15 pm. You can think of at least one shift where you didn’t pee for the whole 12 hours. Your kids think you’re a superhero, armed with shots and pills, taking on the demons of disease with one hand behind your back. There’s a reason they look up to you, a reason they tell their friends that their mom or dad is a nurse. Although you’re officially banned from telling stories at the dinner table. You’re doing a fantastic job.

To the patients and families who actually do say thank you, we appreciate it. We hold on to those moments when someone is yelling at us in a language that we don’t understand or a physician rolls his eyes (yes, I was right. That patient did need to go back to the OR.) And to the ones who don’t, it’s ok. We know that what we’re doing is bigger than a thank you. But in case you haven’t heard it in a while, hear me now.

You’re a great nurse. And we’re thankful for you.

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