Do you believe in angels?
I was talking to my dialysis nurse this week and suddenly realized I’d never met a nurse I didn’t love. If you’ve been privileged to interact with nurses, I bet you feel the same.
I thought maybe it’s those pajama-scrubs they wear. No. The deal is, these people really care about their jobs, and that means us.
My sister was an Aultman nurse for 40 years. She’d come home with blood on her whites. That upset my dad big time, but I thought it was too cool. She evolved into a great nurse. Her patients often became her friends. Years later, she’d meet them in the mall, hugs and all.
The job is extraordinarily tough. There are no snow days. There’s no excuse. They show up. They work in a kind of strange medical netherworld. They’re not doctors, but a nurse knows almost as much. They’re the first people you see at the hospital and the last to help you out the door.
I describe nurses as being similar to Navy ships. Ships, even when docked, always have the radar antenna spinning, searching. It’s the Pearl Harbor effect. Nurses have their own constant radar. They can tell when you need them, no asking necessary.
Not all angels have wings, but they all have radar.
Not long ago, I had an interesting day in the OR, but I needed dialysis that night. Judy stayed over and hooked me up to the machine. About an hour later, my surgery popped. I was bleeding out, fast. Judy went to Defcon 1.
You should have seen her. She climbed onto my bed and used all her strength to pressurize my wound. And she looked into my terrified eyes and said, “Jim, we’ve got to stop meeting like this.”
Judy saved my life, but she acted like it was just another day at the office. Yeah, right.
A few years later, I got word that cancer No. 3 was upon me. Three strikes and I’m out. I was alone with my deepest fears late that night, in the dark hospital room, trying to remember some good things in my life.
The door popped open.
“I had a feeling you weren’t doing so great,” she said.
That nurse stayed with me for two hours. We talked about everything, her life, my life, our dogs, our gardens, our old houses. We laughed a lot. And for the first time in my longest day, I felt the tug of survival.
She was just walking past. In fact, she was off hours. Listen up, it’s that nurse radar, always on.
They come in blue scrubs and funny shoes. They know what’s going on. They make you feel human because, to them, you are. And they will pull your life back from the darkness, with all their energy, just another day at the office. No other job like it.
Do you believe in angels? I do. The wings thing I can do without.Jim Hillibish is a writer for the Canton (Ohio) Repository. Reach him at email@example.com.
Jim Hillibish: Nurses know when you need them
Do you believe in angels?