Not all heroes wear capes — but a vast many of them wear scrubs.
Exhaustion. A nonexistent sleep pattern. Skipped meals and no breaks. Missing out on joyous family occasions and bedtime prayers. Serving as a punching bag for extreme human emotions and the pressure to make it all better. While this all seems rather similar to my days during session in the Texas House, I know my experiences don’t hold a candle to a day in the life of a nurse. During nearly a dozen legislative sessions, I certainly worked my share of long days, but nothing as rigorous as the 12 hour shifts of a nurse. Whereas my biggest challenge during a long night in the House was to build a coalition or win an argument, nurses literally wrestle with life and death decisions countless times in a single day. It is no wonder that in a normal season of life they are exhausted, but battling a pandemic is taking things to a completely new level of fatigue.
This is why National Nurses Week — a time set aside every year to honor those men and women who provide direct care for patients young and old and everything in between — is particularly profound and meaningful this year. If you have a nurse in your life, be it a family member or friend, I want to join you this week in lifting them up in prayer.
There is a group of nurses in Angleton who were involved in my father’s care as he battled the effects of Parkinson’s for two decades before passing away in 2017. From home care visits to ambulance rides and ER treatments, these nurses provided healing hands and warm hearts, becoming friends as well as caregivers. I can never thank these incredible professionals enough for the comfort they gave my dad and I’m grateful for friendships with them and my family that last even today.
When we’ve talked about flattening the curve during this pandemic, it’s the nurses and doctors who are top of mind for me. The whole point of staying home these past two months has been to slow the rate of infection so that diagnosed cases don’t overwhelm our healthcare facilities. I am grateful that Texans have done their part by staying home, so our state hasn’t really seen the kind of horror stories from Italy, Spain and New York City, of nurses stretched to their physical, mental and emotional breaking points by too many patients.
So, this week, if you know a nurse, send him or her a care package to show your support, maybe mail a card or make an appreciative phone call. Then, do something truly meaningful for ALL nurses by doing your part to avoid the spread of coronavirus by following the guidelines for social distancing. Even as we work to bring businesses back online, we must all shoulder the personal responsibility of doing it the right way, which means masks, hand washing and social distancing.
If we are too casual in our personal disciplines as we work to revitalize our economy, we run the risk of triggering a resurgence of infections, which can lead to even more isolation time and even bigger hospitalizations. That could not only lead to more pain, suffering and death for the infected, but also an even bigger burden for the nurses who already do so much for humanity in living out their calling.
So let’s celebrate National Nurses Week together by, first, washing our hands, then folding them in prayer for the amazing people who do so much to care for us.