International Nurses Day - From a life saved, thank you!

Today is International Nurses Day. A day many of us wouldn’t know about.

I owe a lot to the nurses I’ve crossed paths with. In fact if any of us have ever had to experience the medical world and walk into a hospital either for ourselves, or a loved one, we owe more to the nurses we crossed paths with than we realise.

More gratitude, more appreciation, and more respect.

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve met a few nurses that I’d rather never meet again, but that’s just humanity for you. Not everyone, in every role will be good. However, I’d like to think most are.

Nurses save lives every day, and rarely get the acknowledgement they deserve. They see us at our worst, when we arrive in a crisis, they are there. When we need a procedure, they are there to ease us into it. When we are in recovery, they are there. When we come in for repeated treatments, they are the familiar faces. They are the ones we all trust, and rely on to look after our loved ones when we can’t.

It takes a special type of person to become a nurse.

They not only help us physically; they talk, they listen, they advise, they comfort. Not just the patient, but the patient's family and friends too.

Nurses have played a big role in me still being here today. They were the ones who got me through every hospital visit. When I was in emergency, and when I was admitted longer term.

There was always family, doctors, and occasionally friends, but when everyone else had gone home, there was a nurse. They helped me get ready each morning when I had ECT, and they were there when I woke up. When I was afraid, when I was angry, sad, hopeless, when I wanted to give up they were there. They listened, they encouraged, they cared.

It gave my family comfort knowing that there were good nurses, good people, looking after me when they weren’t there. I felt safe knowing there was always someone there, even at 2am, someone would be there.

Sure, they were doing their job, but it always seemed they were doing so much more than that. When I was at my worst, it was the nurses, their compassion, and care, that kept me going.

The other week I spoke at the Australian College of Mental Health Nurses annual conference, and for the first time I got to share something I never had before. Not because it was a secret, but because there had never been an appropriate occasion.

There were a lot of nurses I had met, but one clearly stands out. He was the head nurse that was there both times I had to be admitted for a long term stay in hospital. I remember his name, what he looked like, that he had tattoos; one of dharma, the other of karma in italics underneath each tricep, along the back of each arm.

There’s no one moment that stands out with him, however he is very much remembered. I guess having a good nurse, is like having a good teacher. For so many reasons both significant, and insignificant, they are remembered. Why? Because they made a positive impact on your life.

Nurses are one of the many, yet significant reasons why I’m here today, able to do what I do. Nurses affect all our lives more than we realise, and will play a role when we least expect it, yet need it the most.

To all the nurses out there that make all our lives that bit easier, that more manageable, for simply doing your job; thank you.

Thank you for not just doing your job, but for continually doing more than ought to be asked of you. Thank you for everything we see you do, and for everything we don't.

From a life saved, thank you.