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Thank You to the Kind Nurse Who Cared for Me After My Surgery

Waking up from the decompression surgery was a very unique experience for me. First off, my head was killing me. I literally thought it might implode. It was so surreal. I remember my first thought being “I made it, I am alive.” Very quickly followed by “Oww, nurse!” Then I saw my husband’s sweet face. I watched as concern faded into relief and then to that soft smile he uses when he knows I need to see his face.

For a moment, I forgot everything else. A very, very brief moment. Then the pain came flooding in. Thank God my angel nurse came back with something very quickly. I kept trying to sit up, but after a posterior fossa decompression surgery that helps to correct Chiari malformation, I was not allowed any higher than 20 degrees. The nurse had to keep gently reminding me of that over the next several hours as I was in and out of it.

I would wake up and the pain would come screaming to the surface. One press of the button and out I would go again. When they first brought the PCA pump in they told me I could press it every six minutes. Which would equal 10 clicks an hour. After the first hour, I remember them coming in and saying I hit it 27 times. Honestly at that point all I could do was halfheartedly giggle and ask how do I know when six minutes is? “Ma’am, the light turns green.” Ohh. It was all good from then on.

Sometime in the middle of the night, my sweet angel of a nurse, Angie, came in to take me off to a CT scan. At this point I was feeling pretty good and talkative and we talked about how hard it is to live with chronic pain. Turns out she herself had been down that road. Her compassion to listen to my story of not being believed and dismissed was so moving, I am pretty sure I was crying. Anesthesia makes me extra emotional. I told her how advocating and writing about awareness and my struggle had been my saving grace. She jokingly said, “Remember me in your next piece.”

Dear Angie, I will remember you every time I start to lose hope again in the medical community. Thank you for that. Throughout the rest of my fancy hospital getaway, she was so attentive of my needs and my wants. Mostly food was in the want category.

I literally had to get up to go to the bathroom every hour and she came in every time, joking about how on time my bladder was, and helped me to the restroom. I am not an easy patient, I hate to be still and having to depend on others, but none of that seemed to affect her. She was as kind to me when I was “being good” as when I was “being difficult.”

As someone who struggles with a barrage of chronic illnesses, I have become guarded and distrustful of the medical community. I try not to be, but my experiences warrant those feelings. I am become accustomed to calling out issues with my patient advocates and seeing them resolved so others do not have to feel this way. However, there are times to give praise as well. This nurse deserved praise. Her kindness and compassion made one of my most difficult surgery experiences easier. Even though I could see she herself was tired, she never faltered. She always gave 100 percent to her patient. She also gave of her own heart by connecting to someone who had lost a lot of faith in the medical community that was treating her.

Right now, a friend of mine has a friend who is in bad shape in that same unit. I was able to tell her of how great the nurses are in that unit and that her friend was in the best hands right now. How amazing is that, that the kindness of one nurse has trickled down to people she does not even know? So, I hope one day, Angie, you read this and know you make a difference every day. Thank you.

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Thinkstock photo via Jochen Sands.