health

"To all the nurses out there. I want to say thank you."

HESTA
Thanks to our brand partner, HESTA

Dear Nurses,

You don’t know me.

You wouldn’t recognise me in a crowd or remember my name. That’s because to you, my face is just one of thousands.

One of the thousands of people who are the family members of patients you have cared for. People who owe you the lives, happiness and health of the family members they love.

My mother is the centre of my world.

My sisters, brother and I grew up in a single parent household and things were not always easy. In fact, sometimes they were downright awful. But through it all, my mother held us together, and even in the worst moments we knew we were loved completely.

This is why, when she was struck down by ill health again and again, it was so hard to see her in hospital and in extreme pain.

There is nothing that makes you see feel as helpless, frustrated and broken as sitting by the hospital bed of a loved one, waiting and praying for good news.

Compassion and kindness go a long way in difficult times. Image: iStock.

This is when the nurses would appear. Kind, efficient, competent women and men who swoop into her hospital room and quickly, quietly, make things so much better.

They would ease my mother into her bed and while they carefully helped her undress and put on her nightgown, would talk easily with her about her pain, letting her know that medicine was on the way.

They never made us feel as if we were being a bother, when, in a tired and anxious panic we would ask the same questions again and again.

What really strikes me about the many nurses I have encountered over the years is how they would try to normalise the frightening and often alienating world their patients find themselves in once in hospital.

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How they never make patients feel infantilised when they need help bathing or going to the bathroom. Or they need certain things around them to help them ease into the hospital room and be able to sleep.

On so many nights, while my mother lay in her bed, I would tiptoe down the quiet hospital hallways and tap on the nurse’s station door or press the nurse buzzer and ask for help to make things easier for her.

“She’s very uncomfortable like that, can you change the position of her bed and pillows?”

“She couldn’t eat anything at dinner but now she’s a little better, can she have something to eat please?”

“Can my mother have more water, please?”

“Excuse me, I know she’s had her meds but she’s still in a lot of pain and can’t sleep, what else can we do?”

“I think she’ll feel better if she can have a shower, I know it’s late but can you help us into the bathroom, please?”

“You said the doctor would come again in the morning, do you know what time? I’m sorry to ask again but my sisters and I really want to be here.”

“She couldn’t eat anything at dinner but now she’s a little better, can she have something to eat please?” Image: iStock.

And on and on it would go. But, no matter what time of night I called for help or what I asked for, a nurse would always appear in the room, ready to help.

When I was younger I just took for granted that the nurses were there, helping our family and making things better.

As I got older, I gained a little more understanding of how the hospital world worked and things only intensified when close friends of mine became nurses themselves. That’s when I saw their work in a whole new light.

The long hours they worked, constantly on their feet answering the needs of their patients as fast as they could.

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The way they thought about their patients all the time, even after their shifts had ended. Their patient’s wellbeing is always at the forefront of their minds.

And all the behind-the-scenes stuff I never knew existed. The procedures, the training, the overtime and the paperwork. Things I probably interrupted every time I pressed that call button, but I never saw a hint of frustration on their faces.

So, to all the nurses out there. I want to say thank you.

Thank you for your kindness. Thank you for the overtime, for missing time with your family because you were busy looking after mine. Thank you for your compassion. Thank you for the smiles, the reassurance and the hope you gave us all.

"Thank you for the smiles, the reassurance and the hope you gave us all". Image: iStock.

And most of all, thank you for making four little kids believe that their mother was going to be ok. It means more then I’m able to say.

You don’t know me, but I need you to know that I, and many people like me, are out there and that our lives are better because of you.

Thank you.

If your life has also been touched by one of the amazing people who work in health and community services, you can nominate them in the HESTA Awards program.

HESTA is dedicated to health and community services and advocates for and supports all of its employers and workers. The HESTA Awards program is a unique opportunity for all of us to recognise, thank and reward these incredible people as they carry out their life-changing work.

Who do you want to thank in the health and community services industry?