It’s easy being a patient.
The patient’s only job is to fight and recover, put all of their energy towards healing. Sure, it’s a miserable, pain-filled, nauseating experience, but they are allowed normally unreasonable exceptions when sick. The short tempers and illness related lethargy are tolerated, forgiven.
A lot of people affected by the same illness aren’t given the same allowances.
I often think about the nurses. Not just the ones who gently reassure me as I come out of anesthesia. Not just those who’ve helped my dad in this years-long battle. Not only the compassionate few who patrol hospitals halls in an effort to help people they don’t know.
I think about the nurses with no formal training, who don’t work in a hospital and can’t walk away from their jobs when the shift is over.
The nurses like my mother, my wife, my sister.
The people hurt by the horrible realities of cancer without experiencing any of the physical pain. The ones who selflessly exchange their own wants and desires for someone else’s; not because they have to, but because they want to. The ones who fight to make everything better using love, the best medicine they know.
I know that the fight is just as hard for them. Sometimes, maybe oftentimes, worse. I know that they are forced to see their love ones brought low, and are expected to stay strong when all they want to do is cry. I know that they don’t get breaks that they completely deserve.
To all those helping their brothers and sisters and mothers and fathers and husbands and wives: thank you.
Thank you for being a stalwart champion of optimism when things look bleak. Thank you for never questioning that long drive to the hospital or the even longer nights by someone’s bedside. Thank you for being an emotional surrogate and partner in struggle.
We couldn’t do it without you.
But mainly, I want to thank my nurses. Even when my mom told me “everything was crap” I could hear the determination in her voice. Even when I felt like life had hit me with a big metaphysical garbage truck, my wife was there with a perfect hug. Even when I thought the world had run out of good, my sister reminded me that there are still some great people out there doing great things.
I dedicate this post to Denise, Becca, and Tiffany. I think I can speak for my father when I say that we would have never made it this far with our bodies and minds and sanity intact without all of your support.
And to all the other nurses out there, who are as beautiful and kind and amazing as these three, thank you too. Your patients appreciate you, even if it’s not always apparent.