Dear Senator Walsh

Writer’s note: The senator has issued a statement which shows remorse for her comments. She acknowledges she was out of line. This post will remain with some edits to serve as a tribute to all nurses.

Source: https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2019/04/23/maureen-walsh-apologizes-shadow-nurse-over-playing-cards-remark/3547620002/

Dear Senator Walsh,

I thought you might benefit from some insider information into the lives of nurses.

I am not a nurse.

I am just a regular person who happened to live in a hospital for a total of four months by my daughter’s side. My little girl’s name is Sylvia. She was born with severe Congenital Heart Disease.

I would love to give you some insight into how the dozens and dozens of nurses whom I met spent their time (in between card games).

The same nurses who sustained her life with countless medications, needed at countless time intervals.

The same nurses who knew her first Christmas would be spent in a hospital crib so they dressed her in a beautiful red dress and hat to surprise me.

The same nurses who had infinite patience for my constant questions.

The same nurses who many days never sat during their 8-12 hour shifts.

The same nurses who forwent their. Lunch breaks to stay by my side.

The same nurses who would drop a minute to exhale in a flash to help a nurse in another room.

The same nurses who looked to me first as the person who knew Sylvia best, always validating my role in her care as the mom.

The same nurses who not only cared for my baby girl, but also kept track of my sleeping and meal schedule, encouraging me to practice self-care so I could best care for my daughter.

The same nurses who cried with me when we were told Sylvia’s major surgery did not go well and she would need to be placed on ECMO.

The same nurses who painted her nails and put bows on her head while she laid in a bed, motionless, on life support.

The same nurses who hoped with me that her native heart function would heal.

The same nurses who mourned with me when we realized that wasn’t going to happen and Sylvia was listed for a heart transplant at seven months old.

The same nurses who waited in palpable anticipation for the call that a heart was available.

The same nurses who gathered around me when I found out Sylvia had a massive stroke. My husband hadn’t arrived from work yet, and they sat with me, across from the doctors, cried with me, and asked all the right questions when the anguish of my heart made it impossible for me to speak.

The same nurses who became my family, because four months of living in a hospital and having only them to talk to will do that.

The same nurses who spoke to my baby girl everyday, who played her music, who read her books, even though all she could do was lay there, eyes shut, for months.

The same nurses who crocheted baby sandals for her tiny little feet.

The same nurses who went up against doctors when they had to because advocating for Sylvia was more important than agreeing with a superior.

The same nurses who always made sure they had a heated blanket ready when the monitors showed she was getting stressed.

The same nurses who helped save her twice when she coded in front of my eyes.

The same nurses who celebrated with me when there was a victory and lamented with me when there was a setback.

The same nurses who would turn my daughter’s body for her because she couldn’t.

The same nurses who would contact each other on their days off to find out how Sylvia was doing.

The same nurses who came in on their day off when word spread Sylvia’s body was too tired and it was time to take her off life support.

The same nurses who watched as our family members, including my two-year-old daughter, kissed Sylvia goodbye.

The same nurses who passed my daughter to me for the last time.

The same nurses who watched as my daughter took her last breath in my arms.

The same nurses who bathed Sylvia’s lifeless body, cleaning wounds of the brutal battle she fought so well.

The same nurses who wrote testimonials of her strength and grit for my pastor to read at her funeral.

The same nurses who carried her casket in the church and cemetery.

The same nurses I still love and speak to two and a half years after Sylvia’s passing. Because we endured hell together.

Because we loved Sylvia together and we miss Sylvia together.

Because I know they wish they could change the crippling despair I have that stops me in my tracks every single day.

Because without them, I would not have been strong enough.

Senator Walsh, we live in a world where assumptions abound. This type of behavior almost always results in the disrespect of someone.

In this case, you’ve disrespected nurses.

And that means you’ve disrespected my family.

Shame on you.

Part of me is glad for you. Comments like these are heavy with naivety and inexperience. It implies you’ve never had to experience the up-close life of a nurse. I am thankful for the good health you and your loved ones have experienced. I challenge you to educate yourself on the experiences of others who haven’t been so blessed.

If that hasn’t been the case, your comment can then only be one of ignorance or manipulation to further your political agenda. As a senator representing so many who have been blessed by nurses and even nurses themselves, you need to get your act together.

I am appreciative you’ve acknowledged being out of line. Although I understand you were talking about a specific subset of nurses, these comments were offensive to men and women everywhere who wear the title “nurse”. In general, this is a profession that deserves way more respect that it is given, and we all could do a better job at that.

After all, I doubt the hands they are dealt on a daily basis are ones most of us could handle.

*This site does not necessarily reflect the views of Faith Lutheran Church in Troy, Michigan.

*This is not a political post. This is a humanity post.

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173 thoughts on “Dear Senator Walsh”

  1. Thank you so much for sharing your story not only that it supports the profession of nursing but for learning about your beautiful Sylvia! I am so sorry we were not able to save Sylvia but I pray for her and your family!

  2. Thank you for sharing your heartbreaking story. I’m so sorry for the loss of your sweet baby girl. Thank you also for reminding me why I do what I do (and love) I am a pediatric nurse who often cares for babies with congenital heart defects. I do it for all the amazing families I have cared for through their highs and lows not for the recognition from politicians. While I believe nurses deserve their breaks and need to take care of themselves, I will still always skip a break if I know a parent or baby needs me.

    1. What a beautiful story of your beautiful daughter. I thank you from the bottom of my heart for respecting those nurses and the profession. So many times nursing is a thankless labor of love- as Walsh’s comments reflect- but your story- it’s why we do this very important work!

  3. I’m so sorry for your loss. I lost a baby (SIDS) right after graduating nursing school and I’ll never forget the nurses in the ER, the looks of grief and concern for me. I had twins and my other daughter was immediately admitted to the hospital, the nurses took care of me over the next several days and I’ll never forget it…it’s been 28 years. Your story was beautifully written and it makes me so proud to be a nurse! (Also made me bawl). We are all in this thing called life together and we should be building each other up not tearing down. No matter your position in life you should never be critical of others as the Senator has been. Thank you for your courage to write this lovely letter…even though I’m all stuffed up now…smile…God Bless You!

  4. My daughter Carolyn, has a son, Jack. He now lives in Heaven after spending 7 months at the Duke University IC for cardiac babies. I am also a Psychiatric NP. I watched my grandson’s nurses, 12 hours with one baby, each shift, same nurse most days, and nights. they Loved jack and my daughter, they soothed both their pain, cried with us, and then handed my daughter her son, to hold as he moved the next plane, there was never a moment we felt alone or abandoned by these nurses. How could a Senator be so cold, insensitive, and careless. Hour after hour for seven months. Could you do that ? One nurse actually was so involved and caring, she invited us to her wedding and named her first born after “Jack”.. TELL ME SHE PLAY CADS ALL DAY . ? go wash your mouth out with soap!!
    Signed: Janice Archer, NP ,a grandmother that watched nurses not only take care of grandson , daughter, and my self.

  5. So many devoted hours shared and given freely to those in need that we will never know of. bless all the nurses and unsung care givers that give openly of themselves with no awareness of clocks or schedules to alter their drive to give their all…expecting no praise or reward, only healing and mercy for the suffering. God Bless you ALL!

  6. As I read this story, my heart ached and the tears flowed. I am so sorry for the loss of your precious Sylvia. I can not imagine losing a child, at any age. But a baby that went through so much, fought so hard to live, and then just couldn’t make it. I pray that Jesus was with her when she passed. I am not a religious person, but I do believe in God & the Lord Jesus.. Just in my own way.
    I also pray that the senator Walsh will be more respectful of nursing and how hard your nurses worked to care for you and your baby girl. Thank YOU to all Nurses. One day she may be one to be thankful to a nurse or a nurse team.

  7. Thank you for your beautiful letter. I am so sorry for the loss of your angel, Sylvia. You will be in my thoughts and prayers. I have lost two babies of my own and can relate to your experiences with NICU and Labor Room nurses. The expertise nurses have in caring for families and their loved ones cannot be overstated. I have been a nurse for 36 years and I have loved being allowed to care for others. When people like Senator Walsh make derogatory comments about nurses, it can make one feel as if being a nurse is a menial profession. Thank you, thank you for your beautiful letter of support for nurses and their hard work. It is much appreciated and it is good to know how important your being a nurse is to others. May God bless you and your family.

  8. I fervently hope that you Senator Walsh and your family when confined to a hospital for some physical infirmity, will not experience NURSES playing cards on top of your beds instead of caring for you. It’s a shame that a public servant like you is SO IGNORANT of the unselfish duties of NURSES all over in caring for the sick. You are a looney and you should be ashamed of your undeniable lack of knowledge about nurses, We, NURSES do not sit on our butts once we start working our shifts for 12 -16 hrs. as needed nor even have time to eat at times. We constantly move around standing on our tired legs. Not like you who probably sit all day in your office doing nothing but thinking of something to criticize other professional workers. So please wake up dumb senator and do something positive in your official status and in your life for the good of everyone. How did you become a senator in the first place?

  9. I am so sorry for your loss. I am sure your pain is unbearable. I wanted to thank you for your kind words about nurses. Your words were perfectly written about the ignorance of people who have no idea what their talking about. Senator Walsh is a perfect example of that ignorance. Thank you and may God help to ease your pain.

  10. There are so many nurses in my extended family. They work hard, sacrifice their time for others, laugh with joy when things go right and cry with families when things go wrong. Senator Walsh, you owe a great big apology to so many people. So glad we are not related.

  11. Thank you for your sharing your heartbreaking story with all of us. Who knows but that you and Sylvia endured all you did if only to educate and set an example for an ignorant public about the Profession of Nursing. Senator Walsh ought to be ASHAMED of herself. It seems to me that the only ones with time on their hands that I know of for ‘card games’, are the ‘public servants’ in Washington who are always on some kind of break of just ‘out of the office’ when we call them…

  12. Thank you, for I had worked as a nurse in labor and delivery for 15 yrs, plus Picc line and House Supervisor. So many people will not understand your pain, I know I can’t for I have not lost a baby. I sat many many months as a mom with my 14-15 yr old daughter. By myself at times and times with my husband. I was given kindest and harshest words from nurses but always words that were meant to be said.
    I know as a nurse I did not treat anyone as I would not want to be treated. Yet this senator is absolutely clueless. I had pain and heartache with my daughter and her many medical issues yet I gave my all to those I cared for. So much so that there were times I didn’t eat for, hardly drank and never sat down. I don’t think much of the hard days (and I had many) because I can no longer be a nurse on the floor, on the phone, in triage, wherever. I have multiple sclerosis and can’t/ haven’t worked in 8yrs. If I could I would still pick this career that I can no longer do to the best of my ability. And I surely hope and pray that someone will enlighten this senator and not be in her need of a nurse. Thank you again for your wonderful words. Bless you and your family.

  13. Thank you for this precious letter and sharing about your precious daughter. I am a nurse and I have worked with special needs children and the elderly working 8, 12 even 16 hour shifts. You wrote this letter so graciously and I thank you.

  14. So sorry for your loss of your beautiful baby Sylvia. My daughter is a nurse. She works three 12 hour shifts which usually turns into 13 or 13 1/2 hours. She comes home completely wiped out with always a story to tell. She has sat with countless people that took a turn for the worst holding their hands and trying to sue them knowing that they are on the way out and she did not want them to be alone. Most days she doesn’t get to sit down and take a Half hour break for dinner. Luckily she loves what she does. What an awful comment you made . You should be totally ashamed of yourself. Who do you think takes care of these patients. Doctors do their rounds every day and they do what they can do but they don’t hang around for long they have other things to do. They rely on their nurses . I think everybody knows there is a huge shortage of nurses and that’s because you have to find very dedicated people who are willing to go the extra mile to help someone out.

  15. I am Not a nurse just a volunteer that has been a cuddler in UBICU for 26 years. Nurses are wonderful and in NBI they are on their feet most of their shift which is 12 hours. They take exceptional care of their children. They care about all the children. If I didn’t think they did a super job do you think I would be there all these years.

  16. Thank you for your wonderful support.
    First of all I’m so very sorry that Sylvia has walked on before you and the rest of the family. She is so very beautiful I must say.
    What you wrote is a great example of many nurses devotion.
    I wish you all the best and thank you for sharing your and Sylvia’s story. You are so right on everything mentioned.
    Take care,
    Valarie

  17. Your sweet story is ten times more powerful that any rebuttal by nurses could be.Thank you for reminding me of the moments I have spent with families in the depths of their despair and in their joyful moments. I’m retired now but it was a powerful reminder. Thank you for sharing your story. Sylvia would have been proud of you.

  18. Tears in my eyes, sorry for your loss but thank you for putting what we do every day into words, very loving articulate words

  19. I’m so sorry for all your pain and sorrow. Sylvia was lucky to have such a loving and caring mother. Thank you for your letter. My daughter is a NICU nurse and your letter described her exactly. She worries about her patients, and their parents. I don’t know how she does it; truly caring for these babies then seeing heartbreaking loss, or seeing babies going home to less than ideal situations. She has a calling for it. I think you have to. Know that Sylvia lives on in the hearts of those nurses that nurtured her and you.

  20. Thank you so much for sharing the story of your beautiful little girl, and the nurses who helped you care for her. There are so many stories I could tell Sen. Walsh, to explain what I do every day, but although they have touched my heart, they are not my stories to tell. I hope all the letters make her realize that we don’t just sit around the nurse’s lounge playing cards.

  21. Crying for you and your terrible loss. You have spoken so eloquently on the role of nurse/ family. As a nurse, a mother, and a daughter who has been on both sides of the bed, I thank you for your insight. Love to you, Carolyn

  22. Very well written Carolyn. I am a Nurse who has been on both sides of this story. I had nurses sit with me when my daughter had only a 50 percent chance of survival. She was also on life support. These nurses brought stuffed animals, coloring books and crayons , they decorated her room with bright colourful pictures ect.. in the event if she woke up it wouldn’t be to a sterile ICU room. I have sat with families, cried with families and even had to be the one who took them off life support. We try our very best to go over and above for our patient and families, I take great offence to what Senator Walsh has written and hope she gets to read your story. I am very sorry for your loss. ❤

  23. I’m so very sorry for your loss. May God bless you and your family and your beautiful Sylvia (what a beautiful name too). As an RN who works with only adults I often wonder in amazement at pediatric nurses. I praise them and am so grateful for what they do. Pediatric nurses are truly special and gifted souls. I also truly believe you will hold your Angel Sylvia again one day. Thank you for sharing your story 💜

  24. Thank you for reliving your personal hell to defend and acknowledge nurses. Our hearts constantly break with patients and I cannot imagine your pain. Sincerely…thank you very very much. You’re definitely family to many now. It’s an honor and privilege to read your story…thank you for sharing.

  25. I have read about Sylvia and so many others. I too am a retired RN having worked many 8-16 hour shifts. The events we, as nurses, have encountered have left their marks on all of us in one way or another. However,we have persevered and continue/continued to serve our profession. As noted, we have laughed and cried with our families and co-workers who know exactly how we feel/ felt. Although many want an apology from Sen Walsh I truly feel IF she were to apologize, it would only be lip service and not a sincere heart-felt apology, but done in order to be re-elected to the senate. (Just a note to say I interrupted my card game to write this comment!)

  26. I am so terribly sorry for your tragic loss. I have been a nurse for 44 years and I know how much love and science goes into caring for critically ill babies and adults. Neonatal ICU allows families and nurses to be present for your sick babies. Sooo sorry for your loss.

  27. Thank you for showing your support for the nurses (and all nurses) who take care of your sweet daughter. I’m sorry for the loss of your baby. Your message is beautifully written and clearly demonstrates the need for being educated before speaking. Words can be hurtful. I too, wait for an apology from Senator Walsh.

  28. Peace to you and your beautiful Family. I am a nurse and a mother who has lost children. It is horrible and without the love of those nurses who watched videos at 2 am with my daughter because she was bored, sat with me and called me daily when we brought her home to die, and called daily after that. it would have been so much more painful. I understand Senator Walsh’s mother was a nurse. Shame on her for insulting her mother’s profession..
    Love to all as you grieve..

  29. My is broken for your loss. Thank you for supporting me and my colleagues at a time when assumptions of others are wicked and hurtful. My prayers are for healing for you and your family though faith and love of Christ.

  30. Thank you for sharing this beautiful story and your support of nurses. You have done such a good job of articulating why I wanted to be a nurse. Sending you love and prayers to help continue your healing.

  31. So sorry for your loss. Sylvia is definitely missed by many. Thank you for your advocacy of our important work. It is appreciated.

  32. Retired nurse did mostly Obstetrics in the 55 yrs and a few years in the NICU. What a beautiful message that you sent the senator, You are a natural for putting thoughts onto paper. ‘i definitely shed tears as I read your story and tribute. Thank You
    Tricia, RN

  33. I started NICU nursing 18 months ago now, and it’s the most incredible thing I’ve ever been able to do in my life. I cried the whole time I read this. Thank you for sharing your story. Our hearts and souls go to the babies sometimes and it can be so painful, but the privilege and honour of being beside moms like you, being trusted in caring for their children at their weakest… I never dreamed I be able to do something that meant so much and was so, totally, worth it. Thanks for reminding me, again, how very “worth it”, it is. ❤️

  34. Thank you…i could echo your sentiments as my family stood and watched the wonderful nurses care for our grandson, born with only one lung. Never taking their eyes off him, yet reaching out to comfort our daughter and son-in-law and their two-year-old daughter…they took great care to see that we were all included in decisions and outcomes, and supported our family while doing their job so professionally. They sustained him for two weeks, while every medical intervention could be tried, and they were all there to support all of us when the time came to return him to God.

  35. Praying for you and your family in such a sorrowful time. By telling your story, speaks volumes of the person you are and the care you demonstrate for your nurses. Thank you for being an advocate for us nurses. You DO make a difference.
    Thank you so much.
    Eileen

  36. Thank you so much for sharing your heart wrenching story. As a nurse I was proud to hear of the role “they” played in your life for months. In the past 25 yrs. I have been with countless people, and family members, including my parents , as they crossed over to the other side. I will admit that every shift is not a run out straight, no break kind of shift, but we have enough, short staffed, vacation denied, screening calls on days off, times in our lives, that you second guess your profession choice. Ms. Walsh needs to see a list of our mandatory, yearly, education requirements and to follow a nurse for a shift or two. God bless you and your family for harrowing experience.

  37. I’m so sorry for your unspeakable loss. I am grateful you and your baby were well-supported by nurses. As a nurse myself, thank you for your support and voice.

  38. Nurse’s are the real healers. For they are the ones who forever give care and love to the patients after surgery,, trauma and so much more. Bless them all.

  39. Words cannot express the heartbreak you must have endured and continue to do so on a daily basis. As a mother my heart breaks for you. As a nurse, I cannot thank you enough for your comments. Your daughter was so beautiful. Thank you for taking the time to honor the nurses that helped you through such a difficult time. We truly go into this profession to help others. At the very basic need of humanity. Thank you! Thank you! For noticing that. Again my heart breaks for you. I cannot imagine your pain, but I can envision your spirit. Because even through heartache, you are able to give notice to others. God bless you, your family, and your sweet baby angel.

  40. I’m just amazed at how quickly people react to what they see on social media, without actually checking the facts…
    This is a touching story. But it has nothing to do with Senator Walsh’s comments. The others commenting on here also clearly have no idea what Senator Walsh said. She did not say anything at all about the nurses you’re writing about. Her comments were taken out of context to create clickbait news headlines and to make her look bad. Too bad we’ve become a society that immediately believes everything we see on Facebook and no one knows how to check facts before becoming outraged at something that might not have even really happened…

    1. I understand you’re probably referencing that she was talking about a specific subset of nurses. I did, in fact, check facts before writing this. I don’t think it matters. Her comment was offensive towards those specific nurses and toward the nursing profession. Please don’t tell me I have no idea what she said. I know exactly what she said. It was disrespectful. I don’t think holding leaders to a higher standard to consider the words they use is a bad thing. I also believe in forgiveness, which is why I’ve updated the blog to include her apology and some edits. She acknowledged herself her comments were completely out of line. The message behind my writing remains the same. Nurses in general aren’t given their due.

  41. Peace be with you and your family. Thank you for sharing your daughter’s life and yourself with us all. Your kindness and affirmation is most appreciated.

  42. I am crying too hard to know what to say. Except that I am so, so sorry for your terrible loss. And so grateful that you are able to advocate for the amazing nurses who do so much for so many, unseen and often unappreciated.

  43. Thank for sharing your heart wrenching story of your beautiful baby girl. I am so sorry for your loss. I cannot know the depth of your pain as I have been blessed to see my baby girls grow up to have babies of their own. I am so happy to know that you had loving caring nurses to be with you in this journey. Thank you for sharing the importance and the truth about what nurses do.

  44. To Sylvia’s mother–you have lived through a specific hell on earth, and you have not lost her; Sylvia will always live in your heart and soul. God sends specific angels to earth for a short time to specific people as a gift of a love. I had one of these angels for almost 3 years; he passed on just shy of his 3rd birthday. That was almost 40 years ago, and I’m here to reassure you that you, too, can keep putting one foot in front of the other. I’ve learned to be grateful for the time I had with Jasen and the love has grown while the pain has become just a part of life. I’m 66 years old, and the journey you’re on is not easy or fast, but it is possible. I decided to honor the memory of my Jasen by living a meaningful life. As for you, Senator, I am retired from 34 years as an RN for 10 years and am still waiting for “breaks” so I can play cards. Any apology from you would be meaningless. Some day, you will need a nurse, or a paramedic, or some kind of health care professional, and I know they will treat you to the best of their ability despite your blatant demonstration of ignorance of the nursing profession.

  45. This was so beautifully written & as a NICU nurse, it resonates deeply with me. I cannot understand the pain you have gone through but can only thank you for sharing your story to defend all of us NICU nurses. Praying for you, your family, & for little Sylvia who is resting in the clouds above us. 🙂

  46. Thank you. I am a parent who lived in the NICU for 3 months with my only son. He had a liver transplant at 2 months old and a heart transplant at 5 months. The nurses were the only ones that I could talk to, that answered my endless questions. All while working their butts off for my son. My daughter has now become a nurse and works in the CICU. I’ve seen her grieve for kids that have been taken too soon. I’m so proud of the adult she has become and will forever appreciate her and other nurses. They really have no life except for their patients.

  47. Thank you for this beautiful message. I am so sorry for your loss. My two-year old son was in the PICU for a month before his death, and a couple months before his death, our newborn son died 11 hours after his premature birth. No parent should outlive their child… no mother should feel the empty arms that come from burying their child. By sharing your experiences and observations of the nurses involved in Silvia’s care, you open the eyes to those who have not experienced the devastation of watching a child in the ICU. Thank you for the way you defended nursing. After my experiences with the nurses who walked the journey with me, who sat with me when my children died, I knew years later, when I had the chance, that I wanted to make a difference for others in the same way they had for me. I went back to college to become a nurse and spent several years in the ICU before going back to school to become a nurse anesthetist. I feel my experiences do help me connect to my patients and their families, and my hope is that I honor those nurses who made the difference in my life and the lives of my sons. My prayers are with you as you continue to process all the things you have experienced, there is no doubt your Experiences have changed your life forever. It is very apparent, however, that you honor Sylvia’s memory with a kind heart and courage, or you could not have opened your soul to people like Senator Walsh, who perhaps will never learn first hand what nurses REALLY do. Thank-you for so eloquently sharing your journey so that others may glimpse into a world they obviously have never even tried to understand.

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