Saturday, May 10, 2014

An Open Letter to the Nurse Who Saved My Life

National Nurse's week began on Tuesday, May 6 and ends Monday, May 12 this year. In honor of this event, I'd like to share an open letter to one of my nurses...

To the Nurse Who Saved My Life:

I'm sure you won't remember me. I was probably one of dozens (or even hundreds) of patients you cared for in December 2009. But I can never forget you. How could I? You saved my life.

My story began a few months before I met you, when an ER visit showed that I had a brain aneurysm. Fortunately, the doctors caught it early and I was a candidate for a less-invasive procedure to fix the aneurysm, something I'd never heard of before called coil embolization. Although the idea of someone poking around in my brain scared me, my Interventional Neuroradiologist assured me that I would be well-cared for, particularly since my surgery would be performed at Fairfax Hospital, one of the top hospitals in the area, and follow-up care would take place within the hospital's Neuro Intensive Care Unit. I knew little of what that meant at the time, but I soon learned. It meant you were there.

Once the procedure began, my neurologist discovered another aneurysm that had not shown up on my MRI. This meant two coils and two stents to hold those coils in place, and it also meant a slightly higher risk of something going wrong. Everything looked fine after surgery, but later that night you came to check on me. The doctor had started me on a blood thinner to prevent clots from forming. I had a headache. I felt hazy, a little numb, and I thought it was the pain medication. You knew better. You demanded a head scan and pulled me off the blood thinner until your suspicion could be confirmed. You said I didn't look right. You followed your instincts. You did exactly what you were trained to do and you did so much more.

You see, I had a brain bleed. What caused it, I may never know. I'm told it sometimes happens after that surgery. But I do know if you had not been there when you were, if you had not been my nurse or if you had not reacted the way you did and pulled me off my medication, I might not be here today to write this letter.

I know sometimes nurses are under appreciated. I realize you work more hours than I can probably count in a week, that people sometimes look down on you, and that hospitals often don't pay you enough.  

And I know sometimes people take you for granted. After all, I did. Despite the fact you saved my life, I never found out your name. I spent most of that time asleep or loopy on medication and I didn't even realize what had happened until after I went home. 

Today I want to correct my mistake. I may not know your name, but I know who you are. You are a hero. You are a Guardian Angel. You are the woman who saved my life.

You are a nurse.

For that, for everything I've accomplished after I met you, for my life and the life of my 17-month-old daughter, THANK YOU. From the bottom of my heart, thank you.

Someone who will always look up to you

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