Whatever nurses make in this province, it isn’t enough.
I can say this with authority after being a recent guest at Vernon Jubilee Hospital, with a short trip to Kelowna General Hospital attached.
My little adventure began at 4 a.m. when I woke up with chest pains. Bad chest pains. I’d been having these pains off-and-on for a few weeks. Everytime I had them, they’d go away after awhile.
I saw my family doctor about it, and he suggested it may be heartburn, though I said it didn’t have the “burn” normally associated with heartburn. Still, taking an antacid seemed to work.
But not on this morning.
I took three antacids and the pain was not going away. It wasn’t getting worse, but it wasn’t disappearing.
My doctor had prescribed some nitroglycerin pills and said to take one if the pain didn’t go away. If the pain vanished, he said, I needed to get up to emergency right away because this was my heart acting up.
The pain vanished within a few minutes of the nitro pill dissolving.
Yes, I stupidly drove myself to VJH at 4:45 a.m. where, for the first time in my life, I got an excellent parking spot.
I checked into emerge and, before 6 a.m., I’d had a whack of tests and the on-call doctor telling me not to make any plans because I wasn’t leaving the hospital that day.
This is when I began to truly appreciate nurses and everything they do.
Into my room walks Kelly, looking more Angel of Hell’s than Angel of Mercy.
Kelly is bald, piercing eyes, well-manicured goatee and with tattoos that covered both wrists, elbows and forearms.
Kelly is cool. Awesome. Terrific. I couldn’t have asked for a better nurse on that first day. He took care of me, talked to me, made sure I was fed and watered – especially on Day 2 when I got “missed” at breakfast AND lunch – and made me laugh when I needed laughs. Particularly about how sexy I looked in the hospital gown from circa 1979.
Pat and Sarah were also on-hand in the ER to look after me, every bit as efficient and professional as Kelly. There’s so much going on in ER yet they all had time to answer questions, make sure I was comfy.
Mid-afternoon of Day 2, I got transferred to the cardiac unit where my three roommates – all over 80 – said nothing as I got wheeled into my new corner spot.
On this unit, Samantha, Christy, Denise and Michelle were outstanding. All of them warm and caring.
Same thing when I got wheeled down to Kelowna for a procedure on the morning of Day 3.
I was scared as hell. But any fears I had were alleviated by the team of John, Natasha, Stephanie, Sarah and Tracy, nurses in the Cath Clinic at KGH. I even let John shave part of my chest with a disposable razor.
The morning of Day 4, Denise took my blood-sugar level, gave me my buffet of medications, smiled and told me to get dressed; I was going home.
Everybody during my little ordeal was great.
The doctors, both sets of ambulance attendants, the hospital clerks who popped in to my rooms to say ‘hi, how are you?’ or drop off a magazine or snack, really everybody in the health care field.
But the nurses, the nurses are special, no matter their ward or specialty.
They put up with a lot of crap – literally and figuratively – from patients, doctors, visitors during their shifts yet maintain a positive, professional demeanor.
They truly are angels.