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.
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.