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Dear Parent... love, your child's nurse


Dear parent, 

I am your child's nurse and I just want to thank you for letting me take care of them. I know that you love your kid almost more than you love yourself and it's hard to trust a complete stranger with their care. Whatever circumstance brought you here, I'm sorry that it did. Whether you showed up in blood stained clothes without even a toothbrush, or have been preparing for this hospitalization for months, I'm sorry your kid has to be laying in that hospital bed. I see the stress in your eyes--you're weary, you're tired, and this is all so unknown. 

I'm not a parent so I can't say I know what you're feeling. But what I can say is something that I truly hope you understand. I hope that you know that I care deeply about your child. The only person that wants to see them get better and leave this hospital more than I do is you. I chose to do this job and I love it. Contrary to popular belief, I don't love it because I get to poke and prod and see gross things. I love it because of the smile that your child might share with me. I love it because in one of your worst moments as a parent I can offer you a cup coffee or a tall glass of water. I love it because I know that I played a part in seeing that your son or daughter walks out of those hospital doors healthy again. I love what I do and I hope you realize how much I truly care for your child. 

I admire you Mom and Dad. You are enduring one of the hardest things a parent has to go through. Whether you're handling it well or not, I know that it's incredibly difficult for you. I know that you're worried about your other kids at home, your kid in front of you, and how you're going to manage to pay for it all. I know that you're stressed about two thousand things that I have no clue about, and I get that sometimes that will come out as frustration towards me. I see you crying and it breaks my heart. You may not see my tears, but I promise you that, later, the inside of my car will. 

I understand your frustration and tears are often validated, and I hope you understand that I am not the bad guy. I am often the middle man taking orders from doctors and trying to explain them to you as best I can when they fail to make sense. My heart sinks as much as yours does when I find out that I have to poke your child yet again, but I also understand the importance of what this test will show us so I do it anyway. I know that your child getting rest is important, but I also know that monitoring his vital signs and making him turn so I can see his dressing are just as important. So I wake them up anyway. 

All that being said, I don't know everything and I appreciate when you realize this in a gentle way. Please speak up if you think that I'm doing something wrong- more than one parent has caught a mistake by saying something. The doctors and us nurses are far from perfect and we want you to speak up on behalf of your child. If something we said does not make sense, tell us. If you think that medication that I'm about to give is not being given at the right time, tell me. Yes, it is my job to double check all these things but I have and will continue to make mistakes. 

If you think something is not right with your child say something-even if you can't put your finger on what is wrong.  I will call the doctor for you and do as much as I can to alleviate your concern. That being said, if it's the middle of the night and it's a concern that can be addressed in the morning, please don't make me call the doctor and wake them up. They will be much better prepared to take care of your child if they got uninterrupted sleep the night before. 

I guess the last thing I really hope you would understand is that we're a team. And I don't mean me the nurse and the doctor (though we are). I mean me, the nurse, and you, mom and dad. We're a team- you want to see your child get better and so do I. That means I will respect and help your child, but I would ask that you do the same for me. Please know that I would love to help change your child's gown that he just threw up on, but I may not make it into the room right away because I'm calling the ICU on my other patient who can't breathe. I know that your child needs Tylenol and I promise I will bring it into him as soon as I finish taking care of my patient that is actively seizing in front of me. Your goal and my goal is the same- to get your child out of the hospital as soon as we can. If that means he needs to get out of bed, then I will get him out of bed. If that means he needs to get a suppository (every teenage boy's worst nightmare), then I will give that suppository. If that means getting them to drink 10 ounces of juice or water then I will decorate a cup just for them in hopes that it will get them to drink. I don't want your child to suffer any more than they have to, but if I need to do the hard thing to help them get better, I will. I totally get it when you want me to be the bad guy to your child so that you can be the one who comforts them. But just know that when you go home, you may have to be the bad guy so that you don't land up back in the emergency room. If you're willing to sometimes be the bad guy in the hospital, I can all but guarantee you that you will get home sooner and be more likely to stay home. 

Every time, I walk into the wing of the hospital, I promise to give 100% to your child for the 13 hours I am there. I know that you are willing to give 100% to your child too. Just realize that sometimes this means cuddles, sometimes this means forcing medicine in them or holding them down for a poke, but usually it means both. You and me working together will help get your child home sooner than I'll be able to do on my own. 

Your child matters so much. They are a sibling, a child, a friend, and a simply precious gift. They are more than a patient in the bed, and I celebrate their victories (almost) as much as you do. Whether that means taking their first step again, or taking their Tylenol for the first time, I rejoice with you. 

This hospital is not where kids should be. But life happens, and a good handful will land up among our brightly colored walls. Mom and Dad, let me help you get them back into the world where they belong. I am on your team, I am on your child's team, and I care more than you will ever know. 

Thank you for trusting me with your most precious, thank you for helping me do my job by questioning me, supporting me, and knowing that I am not the bad guy. I know you'll do your best- so will I. Let's get your child home, where they belong. 

Love, your child's nurse. 

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