In the summer of 1990 a middle-of-the-night phone call awakened my family with terrible news. My younger sister, Anne, was in a car accident. We learned of the severity of her injuries when we arrived at the hospital. Anne was ejected through the sunroof of her car (the sunroof was closed at the time) and she hit her head on the road. She arrived at the hospital in a semi-coma. Nothing prepares you for this type of experience. It is such an unusual feeling. First you go through shock and then fear creeps in and takes over. Needless to say, my family was terrified.
Luckily, there were a few people that night that performed acts of heroism, starting with the doctor who was driving by at the time and who took immediate action. He ordered another driver to call 911 while he kept my sister alive. At the hospital, people worked around the clock to help her. Although the doctors were wonderful, it is the nurses who I appreciated and remember to this day. Their interactions with my sister and my family during this tragic time have made nurses one of my heroes. They had sincere compassion for my family’s situation. They were always available to help and answer questions. Most of all I realized the nurses really wanted my sister to heal – their hearts were true.
From the moment we entered the Intensive Care Unit, the nurses did everything they could to make my family as comfortable as possible while continuing to care for my sister. As I watched those checking machines and diligently monitoring Anne, I heard them speak to her as though she was able to understand. They told her everything they were doing, they urged her to wake up, and they continued to tell her she was going to be fine. Like a well-oiled machine, they were able to balance my sister’s care with my family’s fears and concerns. They were always honest with us about the severity of my sister’s condition, but they also continued to give us hope and strength.
For three weeks, we circled the rooms in the hospital. We watched my sister, at times holding our breath and waiting for her to open her eyes or move — something to indicate that she was healing and ready to come back to us. Each day we had new questions. Each day we had to figure something out. We had to understand what was happening to her. We needed to find out what she would be like when she awoke. Where would she go after she awoke? And the scariest question of all – would she wake from the coma? Without fail there was always a nurse available to help us understand what was going on and/or what we needed to do. They were around every corner, sitting at every desk, and moving throughout her room every moment of the day and night. There wasn’t anything they couldn’t answer or help us figure out. When things seemed at the worst, they always had a hug and soothing words to help us continue to move forward.
Finally Anne woke up. I would like to say she was herself again, but she wasn’t. It was obvious she had a long road to recovery. She had to re-learn how to walk, talk, eat, and everything else we learn as babies. The long, daunting road didn’t stop the nurses from celebrating her re-entry into the world. The day she opened her eyes they gave hugs and love to everyone. They shared warmth and happiness from one end of the hospital to the other end. We knew there was so much more she would have to do, but because of the nurses we knew there would always be wonderful people near by helping my sister move forward and heal. Many times I have tried to recall the nurses’ specific words they used to help us, but I always draw a blank. I guess the exact words don’t really matter. Because in the end I remember the feelings that I received from everything they said and did. And those feelings are with us to this day.
In the end, there isn’t an end. My sister continues to heal 17 years later. The people she comes in contact with are not always as helpful as the nurses were during those three weeks of uncertainty. My sister walks and speaks differently now. Sometimes people assume she is drunk or mentally disabled. Therefore, people are not always as patient as they used to be. Thank goodness for the nurses – They are different – They are from a land of their own. The nurses are the ones who continue to be kind, compassionate, helpful, and most of all true to the heart.
Page created on 12/12/2007 1:47:38 PM
Last edited 4/3/2020 3:58:11 AM