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A tribute to nurses

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    As patients,
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    we usually remember
    the names of our doctors,
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    but often we forget
    the names of our nurses.
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    I remember one.
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    I had breast cancer a few years ago,
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    and somehow I managed
    to get through the surgeries
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    and the beginning
    of the treatment just fine.
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    I could hide what was going on.
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    Everybody didn't really have to know.
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    I could walk my daughter to school,
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    I could go out to dinner with my husband;
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    I could fool people.
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    But then my chemo was scheduled to begin
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    and that terrified me
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    because I knew that I was going to lose
    every single hair on my body
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    because of the kind of chemo
    that I was going to have.
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    I wasn't going to be able
    to pretend anymore
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    as though everything was normal.
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    I was scared.
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    I knew what it felt like to have
    everybody treating me with kid gloves,
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    and I just wanted to feel normal.
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    I had a port installed in my chest.
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    I went to my first day of chemotherapy,
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    and I was an emotional wreck.
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    My nurse Joanne walked in the door,
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    and every bone in my body was telling
    me to get up out of that chair
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    and take for the hills.
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    But Joanne looked at me and talked
    to me like we were old friends.
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    And then she asked me,
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    "Where'd you get your highlights done?"
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    (Laughter)
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    And I was like, are you kidding me?
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    You're going to talk to me about my hair
    when I'm on the verge of losing it?
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    I was kind of angry,
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    and I said, "Really? Hair?"
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    And with a shrug
    of her shoulders she said,
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    "It's gonna grow back."
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    And in that moment she said
    the one thing I had overlooked,
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    and that was that at some point,
    my life would get back to normal.
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    She really believed that.
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    And so I believed it, too.
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    Now, worrying about losing your hair
    when you're fighting cancer
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    may seem silly at first,
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    but it's not just that you're worried
    about how you're going to look.
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    It's that you're worried that everybody's
    going to treat you so carefully.
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    Joanne made me feel normal
    for the first time in six months.
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    We talked about her boyfriends,
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    we talked about looking
    for apartments in New York City,
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    and we talked about my reaction
    to the chemotherapy --
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    all kind of mixed in together.
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    And I always wondered,
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    how did she so instinctively
    know just how to talk to me?
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    Joanne Staha and my admiration for her
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    marked the beginning of my journey
    into the world of nurses.
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    A few years later,
    I was asked to do a project
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    that would celebrate
    the work that nurses do.
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    I started with Joanne,
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    and I met over 100 nurses
    across the country.
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    I spent five years interviewing,
    photographing and filming nurses
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    for a book and a documentary film.
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    With my team,
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    we mapped a trip across America
    that would take us to places
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    dealing with some of the biggest
    public health issues facing our nation --
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    aging, war, poverty, prisons.
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    And then we went places
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    where we would find
    the largest concentration of patients
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    dealing with those issues.
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    Then we asked hospitals and facilities
    to nominate nurses
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    who would best represent them.
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    One of the first nurses I met
    was Bridget Kumbella.
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    Bridget was born in Cameroon,
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    the oldest of four children.
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    Her father was at work
    when he had fallen from the fourth floor
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    and really hurt his back.
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    And he talked a lot about what it was like
    to be flat on your back
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    and not get the kind
    of care that you need.
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    And that propelled Bridget
    to go into the profession of nursing.
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    Now, as a nurse in the Bronx,
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    she has a really diverse group
    of patients that she cares for,
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    from all walks of life,
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    and from all different religions.
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    And she's devoted her career
    to understanding the impact
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    of our cultural differences
    when it comes to our health.
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    She spoke of a patient --
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    a Native American patient that she had --
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    that wanted to bring
    a bunch of feathers into the ICU.
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    That's how he found spiritual comfort.
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    And she spoke of advocating for him,
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    and said that patients come
    from all different religions
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    and use all different kinds
    of objects for comfort;
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    whether it's a holy rosary
    or a symbolic feather,
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    it all needs to be supported.
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    This is Jason Short.
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    Jason is a home health nurse
    in the Appalachian mountains,
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    and his dad had a gas station
    and a repair shop when he was growing up.
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    So he worked on cars in the community
    that he now serves as a nurse.
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    When he was in college,
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    it was just not macho at all
    to become a nurse,
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    so he avoided it for years.
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    He drove trucks for a little while,
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    but his life path was always
    pulling him back to nursing.
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    As a nurse in the Appalachian mountains,
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    Jason goes places
    that an ambulance can't even get to.
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    In this photograph,
    he's standing in what used to be a road.
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    Top of the mountain mining
    flooded that road,
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    and now the only way
    for Jason to get to the patient
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    living in that house
    with black lung disease
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    is to drive his SUV
    against the current up that creek.
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    The day I was with him,
    we ripped the front fender off the car.
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    The next morning he got up,
    put the car on the lift,
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    fixed the fender,
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    and then headed out
    to meet his next patient.
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    I witnessed Jason
    caring for this gentleman
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    with such enormous compassion,
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    and I was struck again by how intimate
    the work of nursing really is.
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    When I met Brian McMillion, he was raw.
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    He had just come back from a deployment
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    and he hadn't really settled back in
    to life in San Diego yet.
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    He talked about his experience
    of being a nurse in Germany,
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    and taking care of the soldiers
    coming right off the battlefield.
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    Very often, he would be
    the first person they would see
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    when they opened
    their eyes in the hospital.
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    And they would look at him
    as they were lying there,
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    missing limbs,
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    and the first thing they would say is,
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    "When can I go back?
    I left my brothers out there."
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    And Brian would have to say,
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    "You're not going anywhere.
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    You've already given enough, brother."
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    Brian is both a nurse and a soldier
    who's seen combat.
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    So that puts him in a unique position
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    to be able to relate to and help heal
    the veterans in his care.
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    This is Sister Stephen,
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    and she runs a nursing home
    in Wisconsin called Villa Loretto.
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    And the entire circle of life
    can be found under her roof.
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    She grew up wishing they lived on a farm,
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    so given the opportunity
    to adopt local farm animals,
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    she enthusiastically brings them in.
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    And in the springtime,
    those animals have babies.
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    And Sister Stephen uses
    those baby ducks, goats and lambs
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    as animal therapy
    for the residents at Villa Loretto
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    who sometimes can't
    remember their own name,
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    but they do rejoice
    in the holding of a baby lamb.
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    The day I was with Sister Stephen,
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    I needed to take her away
    from Villa Loretto
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    to film part of her story.
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    And before we left,
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    she went into the room of a dying patient.
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    And she leaned over and she said,
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    "I have to go away for the day,
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    but if Jesus calls you,
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    you go.
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    You go straight home to Jesus."
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    I was standing there and thinking
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    it was the first time in my life
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    I witnessed that you could show
    someone you love them completely
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    by letting go.
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    We don't have to hold on so tightly.
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    I saw more life rolled up at Villa Loretto
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    than I have ever seen at any other time
    at any other place in my life.
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    We live in a complicated time
    when it comes to our health care.
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    It's easy to lose sight
    of the need for quality of life,
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    not just quantity of life.
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    As new life-saving
    technologies are created,
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    we're going to have really
    complicated decisions to make.
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    These technologies often save lives,
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    but they can also prolong pain
    and the dying process.
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    How in the world are we supposed
    to navigate these waters?
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    We're going to need
    all the help we can get.
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    Nurses have a really unique
    relationship with us
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    because of the time spent at bedside.
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    During that time,
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    a kind of emotional intimacy develops.
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    This past summer, on August 9,
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    my father died of a heart attack.
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    My mother was devastated,
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    and she couldn't imagine
    her world without him in it.
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    Four days later she fell,
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    she broke her hip,
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    she needed surgery,
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    and she found herself
    fighting for her own life.
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    Once again I found myself
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    on the receiving end
    of the care of nurses --
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    this time for my mom.
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    My brother and my sister and I
    stayed by her side
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    for the next three days in the ICU.
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    And as we tried
    to make the right decisions
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    and follow my mother's wishes,
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    we found that we were depending
    upon the guidance of nurses.
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    And once again,
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    they didn't let us down.
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    They had an amazing insight
    in terms of how to care for my mom
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    in the last four days of her life.
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    They brought her comfort
    and relief from pain.
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    They knew to encourage my sister and I
    to put a pretty nightgown on my mom,
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    long after it mattered to her,
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    but it sure meant a lot to us.
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    And they knew to come and wake me up
    just in time for my mom's last breath.
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    And then they knew
    how long to leave me in the room
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    with my mother after she died.
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    I have no idea how they know these things,
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    but I do know that I am eternally grateful
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    that they've guided me once again.
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    Thank you so very much.
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    (Applause)
Title:
A tribute to nurses
Speaker:
Carolyn Jones
Description:

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Video Language:
English
Team:
TED
Project:
TEDTalks
Duration:
10:48
Brian Greene edited English subtitles for A tribute to nurses
Brian Greene edited English subtitles for A tribute to nurses
Brian Greene edited English subtitles for A tribute to nurses
Brian Greene approved English subtitles for A tribute to nurses
Joanna Pietrulewicz accepted English subtitles for A tribute to nurses
Joanna Pietrulewicz edited English subtitles for A tribute to nurses
Joanna Pietrulewicz edited English subtitles for A tribute to nurses
Leslie Gauthier edited English subtitles for A tribute to nurses
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