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Unsung Heroes

by Big Daddy Graham
The single biggest obstacle I face every month when I write one of these columns is, simply put, what the heck am I going to write about?
Some topics are obvious. For February, I like a good Valentine’s Day article or any love and romance theme. April might feature a classic April Fools’ Day joke or the upcoming baseball season. I am a Jersey Shore freak so May usually goes in that direction. There are an endless amount of July 4 topics to talk about. October: Halloween. September: going back to school. November: Thanksgiving. December: obviously the holidays. June was all about learning how to write a 500-word essay by making the first 100 words all about what you were going to write about. Like what I did at the beginning of what you have just read.  
When all that fails, I place a phone call to my editor Peter and say, “Hey do you have anything coming out for this month's issue?” Sometimes you get lucky like I did this month where I was told the August issue would feature the annual Top Physicians list and if there’s anything I know it’s South Jersey doctors. In the past 10 years alone I’ve had cancer, three dental surgeries, one back surgery, a stroke that left me paralyzed and three weeks ago I had a heart attack. What’s next, diaper rash? 
We all know that it is the surgeons and the doctors who ultimately quarterback your recovery, so I’d like to write a tribute to the nameless hospital workers—the nurses, nurses’ aides and nurse practitioners. Let’s concoct a brief little list of what is expected of a nurse on a routine day at the hospital.
Cleaning Your “Mess”
Believe you me I know how gross it is to even mention this because just writing the word “colostomy bag” and “diaper” is difficult enough as it is. But somebody has to do it and it’s the poor nurses who do it four or five times a day. How many times a day do you find yourself saying “You couldn’t pay me enough to do that,” and they have to do it all day, every day.
I remember how miserable my poor wife was when she had to do all this kind of work when I came home. If I’d dare complain about something to do with her, my buddy Jimmy would completely flip out on me. “Hey moron, do you know why the people at the hospital did this type of work with a smile on their face? It’s because they’re being paid to do it!” Now I am not going to lie to you, not every single nurse did it with a smile on their face but they did it professionally without complaining and it’s not like they’re being paid a fortune to do so. Where would we be without them?
Television Repair
The only thing that makes surviving 30 days in the hospital tolerable is your television. You would go completely nuts without it. You have about 500 channels at home and in the hospital you’ll have about 10. The hospital television doesn’t have a guide—the only way you could find out what was on which channel was to flip through every channel you had. Women could give a crap about how many channels they have but men actually brag about it. We are pathetic. And if I found out the guy in the room across the hall had ESPN3 and I didn’t, I flipped out.
And who do we complain to and expect to get the television working up to your ridiculous standards? Your nurse, that’s who.
First up, don’t forget a nurse is in control of all your food and she does not get the benefit of getting a big tip at the end of your lunch. Yet here is a tiny list of complaints that your nurses will have to put up with: “What time is brunch?” “You got a lot of nerve calling this coffee!” “I always have a doughnut with my breakfast.”0” What time is lunch?” “Is Friday night pizza night?”
They also have to put up with your sour puss when it’s time for your breakfast and they turn on enough lights to illuminate the Las Vegas Strip.
If all this work was not enough, who ends up cleaning the room when you and all your friends (if you’re lucky enough to have them) leave at the end of visitor hours? You guessed it. Mops and vacuums and brooms to get your room back to normal after it ended up looking like a wild kid’s party broke out during the night.
You never sleep in a hospital, so I would find myself just staring at the ceiling at 2 a.m. I cannot tell you how much help various nurses were to me just talking me out of my depression and getting me ready for the task at hand.
So, I’d like to say hats off to Inspira Hospital of Mullica Hill and a special tip of the cap to Lauren McDowell, the nurse practitioner, among others, assigned to me!
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Published and copyrighted in South Jersey Magazine, Volume 17, Issue 5 (August 2020).

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