"Nurse's Kindness Was the Best Medicine of All"
Buffalo News "My View" Article
Relieved to be home from the hospital, I was learning the importance of rest after surgery. Paul went off to work and I found myself feeling a little upset remembering waking up in recovery… But I pieced together the details and decided to write about it to combat the bad memory. For some reason I do not recall, I submitted my story to the Buffalo News for a My View article.
"I heard that," I said softly. My recovery room nurse had sighed, not a big sigh and probably not meant to be heard. I'd regained consciousness fighting the pain in my back. It had nothing to do with the surgery, but I clearly remember my last thought before going under: "My back is going to kill me when this is over."
I squirmed and struggled to get on my side to ease the pain in my back, causing the blood pressure cuff to become loose and who knows what other damage.
The IV brought pain relief and I began to calm down. As the team moved away, my nurse put final touches on all she could do to make me comfortable and began recording everything that had happened. Without looking up, she replied, "It's my birthday."
March 29—I'd known for months that on this day, I would have laparoscopic abdominal surgery at Buffalo General Hospital. At least, I prayed it would be laparoscopic. "Three band-aids, I want to wake up with three band-aids. I don't care if the 6-inch abdominal incision is called a smile. I still want three band-aids."
My need for reassurance and TLC began in the weeks way before March 29. Anticipating surgery is no fun. Thankfully, my son and his wife chose medical careers, and they provided me with information and assurances that everything would be okay. My daughter-in-law had worked with my surgeon at Buffalo Medical School and they remembered each other. I would soon find out the immeasurable value of the connections we make when things are the most precarious in life.
I welcomed the news that it was my nurse's birthday. March 29 now had a new meaning. She was in a reflective mood, pensive, no big plans. It had been a long day without a birthday reprieve. "But if they'd shortened your day, we wouldn't have met," I stated immediately. She smiled, and we continued to chat about life.
In my vulnerable state, our connection assured me I wasn't just a name on her list. Her sweetness and kindness made me stronger in an otherwise foreign and frightening situation. It was her knowledge, skill and experience that initially calmed me down. Now it was her kindness that lifted me up.
Throughout my short stay at Buffalo General—another benefit of laparoscopic surgery—the extra caring ways of the staff made me appreciate their choice to work in a hospital, to help us during our most challenging times. I wonder if they know the importance of their every act of kindness, or are kind acts intuitive on the part of hospital people?
One of the nurses was having a tough time removing my IV syringe and all the clear sticky tape. "I'm really sorry if I'm hurting you," she said repeatedly.
I got a kick out of the doctors' measure of success. Everything is relative. For me, I never felt worse, but for them, the surgery was successful, and everyone agreed I was doing so well. In retrospect, I'm grateful. Their optimism pointed me forward. I would get better. They knew my prognosis better than I did, and gave me hope.
My recovery room nurse decided that she would take me to my room. Always the caregiver, she reminded me at every turn to keep my arms in. When we finally reached my room, she wished me well and gave me a hug. I thanked her for everything. Happy Birthday! March 29 was our day.