You walk up to the front doors of any hospital, and as you are walking you notice the grand, sometimes intimidating, size of the building. The landscape that may take your breath away with the beauty of blooming plant life. There could possibility be memorials placed around the entrance remembering those that gave their lives to this institution. You see the architecture and design that forms a place of healing, recovery and remorsefully, death. Once inside, the visual dance continues, with photographs depicting the history of this brick and mortar building we all look to for healing. Within the many walls of this hospital there are hundreds, maybe thousands of personnel that work everyday to bring hope to patients and their families. Their job and purpose is to bring healing to the sick and injured. The entire employed population of this hospital has to work together to reach one common goal, the health and welfare of every single person under its care. No matter how sick, no matter how injured, their job is to use all their combined knowledge, talent and heart to medically, or mentally heal that patient. It takes everyone, from the CEO, the Chief of Staff, the managers all the way to the very talented person that cleans the rooms and puts a smile on your face because they are praying for your family. Being a man I sometimes, well most of the time, compare one thing to another to bring a better perspective to what I am trying to describe. That being said lets compare a hospital to a brand new, off the showroom floor car. WOW, there it is, an amazing visual stimulation. Look at the paint, the design, the body lines. The way it glimmers in the sun, the way the seats feel when you slide down in them. The smell, oh the smell of a brand new car. All the latest technology, all the latest instrumentation. This new vehicle will talk to you and give you directions, it will use programs to possible save your life. You sit in this new fort of solitude and you feel safe, you feel secure, but wait you are not going anywhere. I almost forgot the most important part, the engine, the power plant, the one thing that has to work together with all the other components to start moving forward. You pop the hood and there it is, a roaring power plant that will take you anywhere you want to go. The internal combustible engine has so many moving parts, so many parts that have to work in unison to complete even one revolution. The basis of this internal combustible engine is just that, combustion. An explosion that is cause by a mixture of fuel, air and a single spark. Without this spark the engine will not run.
In my personal opinion, the spark plugs of a hospital are the nurses. Without them there would have no spark to initiate the explosion to help all the other parts work in unison. They are the spark that keeps the patients and the families going. These women and men I consider heroes. When Lindsay was in the hospital it was her nurses that got us through that week. Please do not misunderstand, I can not say enough about her doctors. I am a man, yet I am not afraid to say, I love each one of them. Her doctors were, and will always be, in my thoughts and prayers. There has not been a day since Lindsay arrived at the hospital that I do not think of her doctors. Each of them with such compassion cared for Lindsay like she was their only patient. Each of these doctors were, and still are, great men of medicine, integrity, and family. But it was the nurses that were with Lindsay and my family twenty-four hours a day. I know that is their job, to be with and care for their patients, but I always asked them “How do you do it, how do you separate the medical from the emotional, how do you work the long hours and come back with a smile on your face. How do you deal with death and sorrow on a daily basis and keep coming back? How do you deal with the insurmountable stress and frustration?” Their answers were all the same, “It is our job, and we love the people we are caring for.” These nurses work incredibly long hours, sacrificing time away from their own families, their own friends and their own lives to be there for others. They hear all the stories as if they have never heard them before. They listen to all the complaints from love ones and in a calm demeanor, smile and assure the family they are doing all that can be done. Nurses, in my opinion, are the closest things there is to a doctor, therapist, psychiatrist, spiritual adviser, logistical genius, and of course a spark plug. All nurses deserve and have earned the right to be treated with respect by all, no matter what letters follow their name. Without these nurses the engine does not work, the power plant does not move the hospital forward, the patients care could be left stranded on the side of the road. When Lindsay was admitted to the STICU at New Hanover Regional Medical Center she was under the care of five nurses at any given time throughout the day and night. Five nurses that took the time to answer all the questions, no matter how hard the answers were to hear. They were truthful, they were honest and they were a God send. You know when you meet someone and you feel a connection, a feeling of trust, a feeling of almost family, this is what we felt when we meet two of Lindsay’s nurses. These two wonderful women where instantly apart of our family, and I feel still are today. Deani and Elizabeth were our spark plugs, they keep us going, they keep our hearts going, they keep our Lindsay going. They stayed after their shift was over to spend time with us, to assure us and to make sure we were okay for the night. They came on their days off to just say hello and check on Lindsay. They were there when the time drew near for us to make the most devastating decision a parent will ever have to make. Elizabeth was with us on the day Lindsay passed away and answered the most difficult questions of all. My major concern was whether or not Lindsay would feel any pain or discomfort. Elizabeth looked at me and with tears in her eyes and said “It is my job to make sure none of that happens, I will take care of her.” On August 28th, 2016 there were many doctors and nurses with us, but knowing Elizabeth was there by our side and Deani was praying for us was a comfort. I can not say enough about what is under the hood at New Hanover Regional Medical Center, and I will never stop thanking the spark plugs that keep it running. God bless all that are in the medical field for what they do, what they endure and the sacrifices they make. The next time you sit down in the drivers seat of your car and turn the key or walk through the doors of a hospital remember to thank a spark plug.
Please take a moment and listen to Elizabeth Mills, BSN RN CCRN and her fellow nurses, Kati Kleber, BSN RN CCRN and Melissa Stafford, BSN RN CCRN SCRN on their Podcast at www.freshrn.com My personal favorite Podcast is season 1 episode 10. In this episode, near the end, you will hear in Elizabeth’s own words how Lindsay’s passing personally affected her. Elizabeth states in another podcast that “The most rewarding part of being a nurse is being present in people lives.” and also “It takes strength to develop stability.” Very profound words from an amazing nurse.