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  • As patients,

  • we usually remember the names of our doctors,

  • but often we forget the names of our nurses.

  • I remember one.

  • I had breast cancer a few years ago,

  • and somehow I managed to get through the surgeries

  • and the beginning of the treatment just fine.

  • I could hide what was going on.

  • Everybody didn't really have to know.

  • I could walk my daughter to school,

  • I could go out to dinner with my husband;

  • I could fool people.

  • But then my chemo was scheduled to begin

  • and that terrified me

  • because I knew that I was going to lose every single hair on my body

  • because of the kind of chemo that I was going to have.

  • I wasn't going to be able to pretend anymore

  • as though everything was normal.

  • I was scared.

  • I knew what it felt like to have everybody treating me with kid gloves,

  • and I just wanted to feel normal.

  • I had a port installed in my chest.

  • I went to my first day of chemotherapy,

  • and I was an emotional wreck.

  • My nurse, Joanne, walked in the door,

  • and every bone in my body was telling me to get up out of that chair

  • and take for the hills.

  • But Joanne looked at me and talked to me like we were old friends.

  • And then she asked me,

  • "Where'd you get your highlights done?"

  • (Laughter)

  • And I was like, are you kidding me?

  • You're going to talk to me about my hair when I'm on the verge of losing it?

  • I was kind of angry,

  • and I said, "Really? Hair?"

  • And with a shrug of her shoulders she said,

  • "It's gonna grow back."

  • And in that moment she said the one thing I had overlooked,

  • and that was that at some point, my life would get back to normal.

  • She really believed that.

  • And so I believed it, too.

  • Now, worrying about losing your hair when you're fighting cancer

  • may seem silly at first,

  • but it's not just that you're worried about how you're going to look.

  • It's that you're worried that everybody's going to treat you so carefully.

  • Joanne made me feel normal for the first time in six months.

  • We talked about her boyfriends,

  • we talked about looking for apartments in New York City,

  • and we talked about my reaction to the chemotherapy --

  • all kind of mixed in together.

  • And I always wondered,

  • how did she so instinctively know just how to talk to me?

  • Joanne Staha and my admiration for her

  • marked the beginning of my journey into the world of nurses.

  • A few years later, I was asked to do a project

  • that would celebrate the work that nurses do.

  • I started with Joanne,

  • and I met over 100 nurses across the country.

  • I spent five years interviewing, photographing and filming nurses

  • for a book and a documentary film.

  • With my team,

  • we mapped a trip across America that would take us to places

  • dealing with some of the biggest public health issues facing our nation --

  • aging, war, poverty, prisons.

  • And then we went places

  • where we would find the largest concentration of patients

  • dealing with those issues.

  • Then we asked hospitals and facilities to nominate nurses

  • who would best represent them.

  • One of the first nurses I met was Bridget Kumbella.

  • Bridget was born in Cameroon,

  • the oldest of four children.

  • Her father was at work when he had fallen from the fourth floor

  • and really hurt his back.

  • And he talked a lot about what it was like to be flat on your back

  • and not get the kind of care that you need.

  • And that propelled Bridget to go into the profession of nursing.

  • Now, as a nurse in the Bronx,

  • she has a really diverse group of patients that she cares for,

  • from all walks of life,

  • and from all different religions.

  • And she's devoted her career to understanding the impact

  • of our cultural differences when it comes to our health.

  • She spoke of a patient --

  • a Native American patient that she had --

  • that wanted to bring a bunch of feathers into the ICU.

  • That's how he found spiritual comfort.

  • And she spoke of advocating for him

  • and said that patients come from all different religions

  • and use all different kinds of objects for comfort;

  • whether it's a holy rosary or a symbolic feather,

  • it all needs to be supported.

  • This is Jason Short.

  • Jason is a home health nurse in the Appalachian mountains,

  • and his dad had a gas station and a repair shop when he was growing up.

  • So he worked on cars in the community that he now serves as a nurse.

  • When he was in college,

  • it was just not macho at all to become a nurse,

  • so he avoided it for years.

  • He drove trucks for a little while,

  • but his life path was always pulling him back to nursing.

  • As a nurse in the Appalachian mountains,

  • Jason goes places that an ambulance can't even get to.

  • In this photograph, he's standing in what used to be a road.

  • Top of the mountain mining flooded that road,

  • and now the only way for Jason to get to the patient

  • living in that house with black lung disease

  • is to drive his SUV against the current up that creek.

  • The day I was with him, we ripped the front fender off the car.

  • The next morning he got up, put the car on the lift,

  • fixed the fender,

  • and then headed out to meet his next patient.

  • I witnessed Jason caring for this gentleman

  • with such enormous compassion,

  • and I was struck again by how intimate the work of nursing really is.

  • When I met Brian McMillion, he was raw.

  • He had just come back from a deployment

  • and he hadn't really settled back in to life in San Diego yet.

  • He talked about his experience of being a nurse in Germany

  • and taking care of the soldiers coming right off the battlefield.

  • Very often, he would be the first person they would see

  • when they opened their eyes in the hospital.

  • And they would look at him as they were lying there,

  • missing limbs,

  • and the first thing they would say is,

  • "When can I go back? I left my brothers out there."

  • And Brian would have to say,

  • "You're not going anywhere.

  • You've already given enough, brother."

  • Brian is both a nurse and a soldier who's seen combat.

  • So that puts him in a unique position

  • to be able to relate to and help heal the veterans in his care.

  • This is Sister Stephen,

  • and she runs a nursing home in Wisconsin called Villa Loretto.

  • And the entire circle of life can be found under her roof.

  • She grew up wishing they lived on a farm,

  • so given the opportunity to adopt local farm animals,

  • she enthusiastically brings them in.

  • And in the springtime, those animals have babies.

  • And Sister Stephen uses those baby ducks, goats and lambs

  • as animal therapy for the residents at Villa Loretto

  • who sometimes can't remember their own name,

  • but they do rejoice in the holding of a baby lamb.

  • The day I was with Sister Stephen,

  • I needed to take her away from Villa Loretto

  • to film part of her story.

  • And before we left,

  • she went into the room of a dying patient.

  • And she leaned over and she said,

  • "I have to go away for the day,

  • but if Jesus calls you,

  • you go.

  • You go straight home to Jesus."

  • I was standing there and thinking

  • it was the first time in my life

  • I witnessed that you could show someone you love them completely

  • by letting go.

  • We don't have to hold on so tightly.

  • I saw more life rolled up at Villa Loretto

  • than I have ever seen at any other time at any other place in my life.

  • We live in a complicated time when it comes to our health care.

  • It's easy to lose sight of the need for quality of life,

  • not just quantity of life.

  • As new life-saving technologies are created,

  • we're going to have really complicated decisions to make.

  • These technologies often save lives,

  • but they can also prolong pain and the dying process.

  • How in the world are we supposed to navigate these waters?

  • We're going to need all the help we can get.

  • Nurses have a really unique relationship with us

  • because of the time spent at bedside.

  • During that time,

  • a kind of emotional intimacy develops.

  • This past summer, on August 9,

  • my father died of a heart attack.

  • My mother was devastated,

  • and she couldn't imagine her world without him in it.

  • Four days later she fell,

  • she broke her hip,

  • she needed surgery

  • and she found herself fighting for her own life.

  • Once again I found myself

  • on the receiving end of the care of nurses --

  • this time for my mom.

  • My brother and my sister and I stayed by her side

  • for the next three days in the ICU.

  • And as we tried to make the right decisions

  • and follow my mother's wishes,

  • we found that we were depending upon the guidance of nurses.

  • And once again,

  • they didn't let us down.

  • They had an amazing insight in terms of how to care for my mom

  • in the last four days of her life.

  • They brought her comfort and relief from pain.

  • They knew to encourage my sister and I to put a pretty nightgown on my mom,

  • long after it mattered to her,

  • but it sure meant a lot to us.

  • And they knew to come and wake me up just in time for my mom's last breath.

  • And then they knew how long to leave me in the room

  • with my mother after she died.

  • I have no idea how they know these things,

  • but I do know that I am eternally grateful

  • that they've guided me once again.

  • Thank you so very much.

  • (Applause)

As patients,

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A2 US TED nurse joanne villa nursing jason

【TED】Carolyn Jones: A tribute to nurses (A tribute to nurses | Carolyn Jones)

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    Zenn posted on 2017/06/02
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