To the Nurse in the Pediatric Ward Who Went Above and Beyond
You probably don’t remember me, but I was the 13-year-old recovering from a burst appendix right around Thanksgiving in 2007. It was my first surgery, my first experience in the ICU and my first long-term hospital stay.
I had a lot of nurses during that month, but you are the one I remember most clearly. I remember your name and how to spell it, since you said everyone would confuse you and another nurse named Mary.
You always wore cartoon-print scrubs, including Tinker Bell, who you learned was my favorite. You also helped me walk up and down the pediatric ward, IV pole in tow, encouraging me to stand up straight and make it to the picture of the cartoon Tasmanian Devil at the end of the hall. You even named one of the many stuffed penguins I received during that stay. Even though that penguin was red, you named it Icy, which I thought was the funniest thing.
Now that it’s almost been 10 years since that experience, I’ve been thinking about my time in the pediatric ward, and realized you are one of the few good memories from that time. The thing I remember the most, though, is that you washed my hair.
This might not seem like a big deal, but when you’ve been in the hospital for a few weeks, unable to stand up long enough to shower and with incisions that can’t get wet, you start to feel really gross. I was an adolescent with long, straggly hair, and all I wanted was to feel clean. I don’t even remember asking you, but you helped me into the bathroom, sat me down on the toilet, put a towel over my hospital gown and on the floor, and used the sink to wash my hair.
The best part was that you then helped me brush my fresh, clean hair after, since I had an IV in one arm and a PICC line in the other, and then you braided it for me. I love braids, but I’ve always been pretty terrible at them. Having my hair out of my face and in a neat braid made all the difference for the last few days of my stay. Being clean made me feel more like a functioning person, instead of sitting with greasy hair in the hospital bed. It was a small thing, but it meant a lot to me.
You went above and beyond your job description as a nurse and made my stay a lot less lonely. I’m lucky it was a slow time in the pediatric ward, which was virtually empty, and that you were one of the nurses working Thanksgiving weekend instead of spending time with your family.
Thank you for helping a scared 13-year-old feel less alone. I know — along with any other kids that had the privilege of being your patient, I’m sure — the world needs more nurses like you.
Thanks and love,