May 6 is National Nurses Day

by Brandon

As someone who has been fighting cancer for two years, I’ve seen pretty much all sides of this country’s medical system. I’ve seen some things about our medical system that are so utterly infuriating that I’ve literally cried from frustration… and this has happened to me far more than once.

But I’ve also seen some things that were so incredibly inspiring that they genuinely humbled me as a human being. And I’ve met people who have humbled me as a human being.

I’ve had the honor of meeting some real American heroes.

And a staggering amount of the heroes I’ve met were nurses.

May 6 is National Nurses Day. It’s a day to honor people who spend the majority of their lives taking care of other people. If they’re not literally saving someone’s life, they’re doing what they can to make sick people better… and if they can’t make them better, they do everything they can to make them comfortable.

Before I got sick, I respected nurses. I always knew they were hard-working people. But I truly had no idea just how much I was underestimating what these amazing people do every day.

When I first woke from my coma, I was shocked to find out that a bag was attached to the side of my belly. Then, I was even more shocked to learn that I would have this bag for the rest of my life, and I would never again use the restroom like a normal person.

During that time, I was very sick and very weak. And at first, my body was still pushing all my waste out of my colon. Put simply, I was pooping in my hospital bed. A lot. Eventually, they had to remove my colon and sew me up… down there… but at the time, it was Poop City, USA.

It was humiliating and it made me feel horribly guilty, because every time it happened, some poor nurse had to come in and clean both me and the bed.

Every time they came to clean me up, I of course apologized. And every time, they told me to stop apologizing for something I couldn’t control. They were immeasurably kind, and they never made me feel bad for the obviously awful cleaning I was making them do. They just cleaned it up, joked with me while they were doing it, and they did everything they could to make me feel better… physically and emotionally.

A few weeks later, when I began my chemo and radiation, I was utterly terrified. The cancer center was somewhere I never wanted to be. I was so weak, I couldn’t walk on my own. My weight had dropped from 230lbs to 138lbs. Really, I would describe myself back then as being about 2/3 dead.

Within an hour of being there, I felt just a little bit better… and I felt that way because of the nurses. They were kind, loving, funny, and always eager to help. They not only made me feel like I was loved there, they made me feel like things would get better.

These are people who work in a frickin’ cancer center, yet they are quite possibly the most optimistic people I’ve ever known. Never - not even for a second – did they act like I was dying… even though, looking back, I have no doubt that it was a concern… at least.

These nurses not only work their asses off every day, they do it with a smile. They¬†always treat me with dignity and respect. They laugh with me on the good days and they cry with me on the bad days.¬† In short, they’ve always treated me like a human being.

And, of course, in the past two years, I’ve come across some nurses that were… less than helpful. They’re just people, and – as with any group of people – there are good nurses and there are bad nurses.

But I can tell you this… in my personal, purely anecdotal experience, the good nurses outnumber the bad ones a hundred to one, if not more. Overwhelmingly, most nurses I’ve known are not only some of the hardest workers in America, they’re also some of the kindest, most loving people I’ve ever met.

So if you happen to be in the same room with a nurse today, give that person a damn big hug, then follow it up with an even bigger “Thank you.” And if you’re friends with a nurse on Facebook, send them a “Thank you” message, or put one on their wall.

Because they frickin’ deserve it.

To every nurse who has played a part in my healing, both physically and emotionally… thank you. From the bottom of my heart, thank you.

You absolutely one of the main reasons I’m alive today.

I don’t know how much you guys get paid to do what you do, but if it was up to me, you all would be making a hell of a lot more than you make now.

Thanks again.

I truly love you guys,

Bran


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