I worked in a hospital for over 30 years. During that time I witnessed time and time again quiet acts of bravery … people who gave their all, but would never be recognized with medals or special holidays.
They did not seek recognition from others. For most, what they did was simply answering the call of their heart.
Some knew that Call was from God. Some did not. They only knew they wanted to help other people. In their own way, they were “loving one another,” just as Jesus commanded.
There were nurses on psychiatry who were beaten up by patients who were so mentally ill they would never even remember what happened.
A nurse had her jaw broken. After months of painful recovery, she went back to work. She forgave the patient. She forgave like Jesus. She said she knew he did not know what he was doing.
Nurses got covered with blood, vomit, and all manner of what can come out of a human body. They wiped it away and kept working.
Nurses were exposed to odors one never forgets. But they tried to forget and kept working.
When death threatened, nurses and doctors pulled out all stops and responded. It was incredible to see a team of people (who sometimes did not even know each other), work together, completely focused on just one mission of saving another person’s life.
Sometimes their efforts succeeded. And many times the one saved never even met their saviors. But their lives were changed forever by the nameless strangers who came to help.
Sometimes death came and nurses and doctors were escorts to help others cross over to the other side.
They had to temporarily lay aside their desires to save to earth and relinquish their patients into a larger reality. They had to hold their own grief so they could help others grieve.
But they cried too … later when they left the morgue … later in the car on the way home … later when they were trying to sleep.
Nurses worked long hours, often without meal breaks or proper bathroom breaks. When someone called off for the next shift, they often worked longer hours.
They worked during hurricanes, snow and ice storms and even national emergencies like 9/11. Nurses slept on the floor or in chairs with only a few hours rest in between taking care of patients.
Nurses were exposed to all kinds of bugs. At one time, I was the manager of an infectious disease unit.
We lived in gowns, gloves and masks. We scrubbed our hands until they were nearly raw. We presented ourselves weekly for someone to put a stick up our nose to see if we had caught anything.
I also managed the hospice unit when AIDS was new. Fear was rampant, as people were just learning about this disease. Nurses still nursed, holding hands, soothing fevered brows, calming fears, as they tried to put their own fears aside.
In this present world of COVID,, I can honestly say I am relieved to be retired from nursing. But I know all across the world, there are nurses, doctors and other health care workers, who are still on duty, every day, evening and night.
In addition to their regular duties, they have had to assume the role of family, as isolated, frightened, lonely patients beg for help and comfort.
They are tired. They are grieving. They are scared. But they go on, caring for those who are ill. They are the unsung heroes of this time.
Please say a special prayer for all of them. Express your gratitude when you see them. Find ways to honor them.
And please do your part to stop the spread of COVID.