Handprints on Heart Palpitations

She stays up all night and sleeps all day. Her appearance in a room makes everyone smile. Beeping and buzzing fill her ears as she bumps into others in crowded, chaotic hallways. She barely has time to eat because she is running around from place to place, meeting new people. Holding back hair while watching someone vomit is one of her specialties. No, she is not a celebrity, attending fabulous parties, making appearances and partying into the wee hours of the night. The buzzing she hears isn’t a result of leaving a loud club after bumping hips with socialites all evening, and the hair she’s holding back is not that of a friend who indulged themself in one too many vodka-sodas. When she walks into a room, she brings smiles to faces, but not because she is being paid to make an appearance and sign autographs, or is dressed to make boys ogle, in sky-high Louboutin heels. She is a nurse. And, she works at one of the most undervalued professions in our society. Kim Kardashian gets paid millions of dollars a year just to bring her big booty to special events, and yet there are people out there who work overnight, knowing far too well the weight of heavy eyelids, in order to help patients feel safe and comfortable, and they get nowhere near the credit they deserve. These are the people sacrificing their Saturday nights to change a ninety-year-old’s diaper or tend to an infant who has been screaming in pain for days. Quiet time, or downtime in general for that matter, is a rarity for them and they often spend entire days sprinting from room to room without even getting the chance to take care of their own needs and eat dinner. I’ve had nurses tell me they’ve spent entire shifts “holding it” because there just wasn’t time to take a bathroom break. Now that’s what I call selflessness. Moreover, they spend holidays away from their own families in an effort to help others recover and get back to theirs more quickly.

Working in the hospital, I have seen firsthand the effect these incredible people have on their patients. Although some of the kids I work with aren’t too thrilled to see a nurse come in to give them a shot or take their vitals for the third time that day, there is a special, unspoken bond between a nurse and its patient that cannot be overlooked. Not to mention, it is the nurses who spend the most time with the patients, getting to know their needs and doing everything they can to make them feel as comfortable as possible despite their circumstances. Not only that, but they are equipped with the knowledge and training to help them save lives, which is something they do every single day. They are the first ones there when a code occurs and know exactly what to do, which takes an immense amount of courage and mental clarity. And do they ask for anything in return for all of this? No. They make these sacrifices and bust their butts for four-plus years of intensive schooling just so that they may help people live better lives. I am blown away by the altruistic mentality of the nurse. They are truly an inspiration for all of us and deserve so much more credit than they get. Without them, our hospitals would be cold and hopeless, innumerous lives would be lost and even the simplest procedures would be dreaded by all. So, thank you. Thank you for missing a friend’s birthday party to tend to a little one who just had surgery and needs, more than anything, that laugh you give them when you visit their room. Thank you for sacrificing a trip to a baseball game on a beautiful day to be inside, caring for those who cannot be outside in the fresh air and may never feel the warmth of the sun on their backs again. You are their sunshine. Thank your for your intelligent minds and huge hearts. You have touched the lives of so many people and continue to make your mark on the world’s story simply by giving so many more individual stories the chance at a happy ending.

Happy Birthday Rachel! You are an amazing person and I have a world of respect for you and everyone else working in your field. You are an inspiration and deserve to be told every day how much of an impact you are making on the lives of others. I am so proud of the person you are and so lucky to be friends with someone like you. I hope you have a wonderful, relaxing birthday and go back to work knowing how much strength and peace you bring to each and every patient whose room you walk into. Love you.

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