Content ID

336099

Feeling thankful

We have five nurses in our family, so I’ve long known that healthcare professionals are caring and compassionate. After all, you shouldn’t be in the people business if you don’t like people.

This point was driven home time and again during my recent hospitalization for pneumonia.

One of the first professionals to appear at my bedside was a respiratory therapist named Michael. He evinced the world-weary attitude of a seasoned veteran. In short, he was exactly the kind of person you would want in your corner in a situation such as mine.
 
Michael and I chatted as he used a hypodermic needle to probe for an artery in my wrist. I learned that Michael had spent a good deal of time in the COVID-19 ward of a Fargo hospital during the height of the pandemic.
 
I asked Michael what he says to folks who think that COVID-19 is a hoax or that vaccines are useless.
 
“I don’t even waste my time talking to them anymore,” he replied as my scarlet arterial blood slowly filled his syringe. “I’ve hugged too many good people goodbye as they took their last breaths. This includes a 26-year-old man who was in perfect health before he got Covid. We did everything we could, but we still lost him.”
 
I detected a deep note of sadness in the battle-hardened veteran’s voice.
 
One of my hospitalists was Dr. Jill, whom I somehow recognized. Then I realized that she had cared for my mother when she was in the nursing home. I mentioned this to Dr. Jill, telling her that my mom had liked her and said that she was always very kind. It was comforting for both of us to make this connection.
 
One of my daytime nurses was a middle-aged lady named Marcy. One morning when she came to take my vitals, I asked, “What are you up to today, Marcy?” 

Marcy paused, glanced at the floor, and said, “Oh, about five feet, two inches.” 

You have to love anyone who has such a quick wit.

During many of my vital checks, I knew that the nurses would say that my lungs still sounded troubling. I could feel the snaps, crackles, and pops that accompanied each breath.
 
A young lady named Morgan was one of my night nurses. She and I often chatted after she took my vitals. I learned that she grew up on a dairy farm near Lismore, Minnesota, and that she and her husband have two small children. 

Morgan and I agreed that there’s no better place to grow up than on a dairy farm.
 
During one of our talks, we discovered that we know several dairy farmers in common in the southwestern Minnesota region. Even though there was more than 30 years difference in our ages, I felt that Morgan and I shared a kindred spirit. This gave me no small amount of comfort.
 
I learned that another of my nightshift nurses – a very nice lady named Kimberly – had worked at my mother’s nursing home. When I told her who my mom was, she instantly declared, “I remember Anna! She had such thick and pretty hair.”
 
I told Kimberly that Mom had told me about receiving that compliment.
 
“You’re giving me goosebumps!” Kimberly exclaimed as she rubbed her arm. “You love all of the residents like family. It’s always difficult to see them go.”
 
Among the healthcare professionals who gave me aid and comfort, none deserves more praise than my wife, even though she technically isn’t a healthcare professional.
 
My wife valiantly stayed at my side during the entire pneumonia ordeal. She ignored the sign outside my room which stated that everyone who entered was required to wear protective gear. I was essentially a living, coughing biological hazard.

It was my wife who insisted that I seek medical attention, although I didn’t listen to her until I became extremely ill. Like many guys, I got it in my head that I could “tough it out,” a moronically macho mindset that could have cost me dearly. I might not be here were it not for my wife’s stubborn insistence.
 
After five days that felt like forever, I was able leave the hospital and return home. 
 
As I got out of the car, I was greeted by our dog, Bella, and our cat, Sparkles. While animals can’t talk, it was clear that they had missed me.
 
I plopped down in my recliner and Sparkles promptly hopped up onto my lap. Her powerful therapeutic purr vibrations soon washed over my body.
 
Let the healing begin. And a big thanks to healthcare professionals everywhere, whether you have two legs or four.

Jerry Nelson

About the Author

Jerry Nelson and his wife, Julie, live in Volga, South Dakota, on the farm that Jerry’s great-grandfather homesteaded in the 1880s. Daily life on that farm provided fodder for a long-running weekly newspaper column, “Dear County Agent Guy,” which become a book of the same name. Dear County Agent Guy is available at workman.com/products/dear-county-agent-guy.

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