Today is International Nurses Day, and as a patient I I couldn’t be more thankful for the kindness and expertise I’ve been shown in my care by nurses. Through my eye surgeries, my bowel surgeries, the day procedures I’ve had done, my few trips to emergency and currently at the cancer clinic, I’ve always felt like I’ve been in great care.

When I saw on Facebook that it was International Nurses Day coming up, it got me thinking of the many many times I’ve been grateful for the care I’ve received, here are just a few.

The longest time I’ve been in hospital was for both of my bowel surgeries, where each time I was there for a week. I was on the same ward both times and really liked the nurses there. They took the time to hear my story and why I was going through all of this, and didn’t make me feel embarrassed as I adjusted to life with a (temporary) stoma, which was not glamorous at all…

My favourite nurse on the ward was one of the senior nurses. He had lots to do, but he took the time to check in on my pain levels, and get me a peppermint tea and a constant refresh of a heat pack, sometimes it’s the non-medical comfort things that help the most and make you feel cared for.

Then there was the stern nurse, who came in the day after my surgery and aked me why I hadn’t gone for a walk. I got defensive and said it was pretty obvious, I was in lots of pain and I’d already got out of bed to walk to the shower, surely that was enough for day 1? I left it for an hour or so, and then thought I’d better prove her wrong and went for a walk around the ward, making sure she saw me as I went past the nurses bay. Later she came into my room and I told her I’d been walking, and she smiled at me and said that she had seen me and I had done well. I would never admit it but although it was painful, walking did make me feel better and after getting that push from her I kept walking each day even if I didn’t feel up to it.

I finally got out of hospital after my first surgery and was adjusting to life with a stoma. A few weeks after my surgery I started having problems with my bag one day out of the blue and because before then I’d never had any issues I was in a panic. I couldn’t get my bag to stay on so my skin was red raw and incredibly painful. I tried to cope but I just didn’t think I could get through the night without someone helping me. I called the ward I was on for surgery in tears. It was already quite late at night, but the nurse asked me if I was nearby, which I was, and so off I went to the hospital. I was given a room for a few hours while we tried a few different types of bags, did a few walks around the ward and then once I had a good solution I went home again, de-stressed and confident again.

Over a year on from my surgeries and I am now a regular at the cancer clinic to receive my treatment for the desmoid tumour. The nurses there are lively, caring and talk to the patients as friends. Sometimes I forget that everyone there is sitting there, getting incredibly toxic drugs pumped through them and all living with some sort of life changing diagnosis. It’s a welcome distraction in a place that brings people together for all the wrong reasons, initially.

I’ll never escape the health system, but so far I can’t complain about the treatment and care I’ve received.