To the Nurse in the SpongeBob Scrubs


To the nurse in the SpongeBob scrubs,

It was 2005, and I was 8 at the time. Terribly frightened at everyone who approached me that day. I sat in the waiting area with the white medical bracelet squeezing my stuffed monkey, waiting to be admitted for another surgery.

From there, needles and IVs, pre-op prep, gross medicines and scary doctors with white coats filled the room.

I remember tears of fear filled my tired eyes. I didn’t understand much, I was just a little kid. I didn’t know the depth of how serious this day was. Heart surgery #2, one of the longest, I would undergo. The only thing I distinctly remember is being mad that morning that I couldn’t eat my usual breakfast of cereal and milk in the morning with orange juice and had to wake up at 5 a.m. to travel to the hospital. That drive, it always felt so long, but that day it felt extra long.

After I got admitted, through the tears and the chaos, a nurse I vaguely remember wearing SpongeBob scrubs appeared.

She kindly walked over to me, and saw how upset I was. She took the time to play with me and sing songs as we waited for the OR to be ready. We colored and I cried a little, but she assured me it was OK, wiping my tiny tears with the softest tissues.

But I continued to cry and cry. Then she did something that was simply amazing. Something that an 8-year-old who had no concept of that day’s events could remember years and years later…

She took off her SpongeBob scrub jacket and gave it to me to wear. Complete with a hospital ID badge and special flashlight pen in my pocket. I vividly remember sitting in the pre-op area spinning in the wheely chair, in the full scrub outfit. For a moment my tears dried and I was actually smiling and laughing.

For that moment, I forgot I was in a hospital, awaiting one of the biggest surgeries of my life.

To the nurse in the SpongeBob scrubs:

Your kindness and love took me out of the hospital setting and back into being a kid for just a moment.

It’s nurses like you who change people’s lives.

Thinking back to that day today, I wish I knew who you were so I could say thank you. Even though there are no words for all you did…

Thank you for going above and beyond and being the one person who brightened my day 13 years ago. For letting me just be a kid.

Thank you. From the bottom of my mended heart .

Whoever you are, just know you were one of the people who gave me courage to fight on all these years, through this long dreaded disease of CHD.

The last thing I remember from that day was taking the sleepy medicine, in my SpongeBob scrubs. The medicine began to make me giggly and I can still remember it to this day, and as I closed my eyes you and my parents were beside me singing the SpongeBob theme song in my ear as I slowly fell asleep.

Follow this journey on Eileen’s Instagram support group.


Find this story helpful? Share it with someone you care about.


Related to Congenital Heart Defect/Disease

Close up of unrecognizable hipster businessman with smartphone standing on subway station

Why Social Media Is My Heartache and Motivation in Life With Congenital Heart Disease

What do you think Mark Zuckerberg’s vision was when he set out to connect the world? If it was to connect those suffering the daily blows of chronic illness, he succeeded. If it was to show me the beautiful triumphs of those living with congenital heart disease (CHD), he succeeded. If it was so I [...]

This Is What I Feared When My Baby and I Were Separated Shortly After Birth

Upon hearing my daughter had a critical congenital heart defect (CHD) and would need life-saving surgery soon after birth, my thoughts immediately turned to her survival, the complications, the hospital stay, and all those important things that surface when you have a child who isn’t 100 percent healthy. However, as my pregnancy continued and plans [...]
A picture of the writer on the beach as a child.

Was It Better for My Health for Me to Think I Was 'Fixed?'

At the Joint Conferences on Advances in Pediatric Cardiovascular Disease Management I listened to a very intriguing presentation from Dr. Bradley Marino from Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago. He discussed patient outcomes and quality of life, and he mentioned that there was a group of patients that quality of life was much better than what [...]
Black and white close up of woman's eyes with tears

What it Means to Have a Child With a Congenital Heart Defect

Being a heart mom means: Sometimes you may break down for no reason at all. It means constant struggles and phone calls to insurance companies and doctors and still getting no answers. It means your own heart is broken daily. It means trying to make a “normal” life for your family when it’s anything but [...]