In my 27 year “Career” as a Professional Patient, due to an incurable and autoimmune illness (namely, Crohn’s Disease), I have been hospitalized over 200 times, in several different states, at numerous hospitals, under different healthcare systems & health insurance protocols, to treat a variety of maladies and endure 20+ surgeries. During this Career, I have had the privilege to interact with literally hundreds of Nurses and with one (1) exception, involving the involuntary insertion of a Foley Catheter into my Penis, I state without equivocation that their compassionate, meticulous, consistent and professional demeanor are the reasons why I have not lost my mind and only inches of my small bowel as a result of Crohn’s Disease!
(If you want to learn all of the details regarding “The Good Nurses, The Dedicated and The Foley Catheter,” you must purchase my “critically acclaimed” [pretty cool] and funny book/memoir, entitled, “Confessions of a Professional Hospital Patient.” In all seriousness, the book is available for purchase at Amazon and Barnes & Noble and patients/caretakers with all sorts of medical issues from all over the world have been kind enough to not only purchase it but many have taken the time to write to me about how much it has helped them. Nothing brings me more joy. )
My “professional” career technically began in 1984 (i.e., after I was formally diagnosed with Crohn’s Disease) although, in retrospect, many medical problems and hospitalizations which occurred during my childhood should also count toward any World Record of unwanted attention and adversity since they all seem to now make sense in light of the broken genes I inherited from my loving parents. (I mention this in case someone from Guinness World Records is reading my Blog.) And for those of you who can’t relate to the numerical significance of 200+ hospitalizations or how many painful Intravenous “sticks” that amounts to, please try and appreciate this: The 1984 United States Presidential Election was between incumbent Republican President Ronald Reagan and the Democratic candidate Walter Mondale. As you know, President Reagan prevailed and I think it is fair to say that between 1984 and the present, the world has probably experienced more “change,” both good and bad, than ever before. More specifically, the iPod, 1986 New York Mets and the Internet being classified amongst the good; and all War, “Keeping Up with the Kardashians,” and the Bruce Willis movie, “Hudson Hawk,” listed amongst the bad. The ONLY CONSTANT for me was, and is, the reliable and kind Patient Care I received from Nurses.
Whether it was 1984 or is November, 2011, when I am admitted to a hospital and get approached by a Nurse I know exactly what is going to happen. I take great comfort with that proven expectation in my mind. I’ve also come to learn so much about Nurses and the more I learn about the demands of their profession, the more I am impressed with the dedication of each individual who makes that choice to help others in their time of most critical need when they often are not anywhere near their nicest in terms of physical condition, state of mind or chosen vocabulary, for example, when they are in pain. Nurses absorb and segregate the unnecessary patient “noise” to help the other medical professionals do their jobs. They also do it with a smile and with the only sense of professionalism which ALWAYS takes into consideration a patient’s “continuity of care.”
Please don’t interpret my praise of Nurses as some implicit dig at other medical professionals. It is just that as a group and a profession, no other medical professionals are under such incredible hour-to-hour, minute-to-minute pressure to perform and handle it with such consistent success and kindness towards patients. That would seem impossible to achieve had I not witnessed it first-hand over the past 27 years. My recent November, 2011 hospitalization of 10 days reminded me of this and I wanted to formally note my appreciation to Nurses all over the world. Thank you.