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LETTER: Former GGH patient thankful for nurse's care

'For as long as you can, I hope you stay,' reader says, sympathizing with nurses throughout COVID
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GuelphToday received the following letter from reader Barry Gaudet, who shows gratitiude to a nurse they had during a hospital stay five years ago:  

Five years before Covid became a word, I ended up in a hospital emergency room. Never a fun experience, it required a hospital stay in the last available bed, in geriatrics even though I wasn't a geriatric case.

They say it’s a difficult job because they see people at their worst.

It’s likely true.

The trip through the system that is healthcare was a disorienting phantasm of memories - That feeling of knowing something is so very wrong, and also knowing it’s completely out of your control. You feel pushed through the stages like a gauntlet, from assessment to diagnosis to treatment in the ER, to a temporary bed until a more permanent spot could be found.

You remember vividly, events that only later do you realize were just half true - the mashing together of different people from different times in hazy fragments.

But a new normal does come. You start getting better, noticing your surroundings, and the rhythm of the hospital.

The staff are much like in any other institution. Most do a perfectly fine job, one wasn’t great, and one…

One was a nurse.

You did all the normal things a nurse does, checking this or that reading, giving meds, and I’m sure a multitude of tasks I was never aware of. But there was more.

You confided the mundane little things in your life that made the abnormal seem a little little less so. You asked about me, and shared your own minor triumphs and tribulations. You got some of the strong staff coffee for me as I was also a shift worker and up at night.

You switched the IV to my other hand because you worried about the vein, given how much saline they had to pump into me in the ER. It’s not just that you cared, you validated the seriousness of the situation.

At the end of the night shift you popped in just to say you were leaving, letting me know a new set of staff would be doing the poking and prodding. It provided a semblance of continuity, of agency simply from knowing what was happening.

And I did get better.

I don't remember your name, but I do remember you.

Nor can I imagine what it must be like now, an unending tidal wave of patients, separated by PPE, dehumanizing more than the sheer numbers alone.

So many are leaving because it’s just too much.

It must be hard sometimes to continue to care.

For as long as you can, I hope you stay.

Barry Gaudet,
Guelph, Ont.