A Letter to the Nurses and Aides of 10 West

Dear Nurses and Aides of 10 West, Danbury Hospital,

I want to thank you.  I want you tell you that your care and compassion made what was a particularly frightening time in our life bearable. I want you to know that  you made a difference. in what  was a very scary time for us.

When my daughter was hospitalized  for 5 days being totally paralyzed from the neck down, we were terrified. My mind was spinning with thoughts of a stroke, of Gulliane-Barr disease, of all kinds of terrible things.  We were somewhat relieved to find that there was no “organic” disease shown, but a symptom of mental illness, Conversion Disorder.  According to  MayoClinic,com,  Conversion disorder, also called functional neurological symptom disorder, is a condition in which you show psychological stress in physical ways. The condition was so named to describe a health problem that starts as a mental or emotional crisis — a scary or stressful incident of some kind — and converts to a physical problem. Her paralysis was real, You never doubted her.

I don’t know how many people you have to deal with on your floor with mental illness, but I can tell you that the way you treated my daughter was spot on. Upon the diagnoses that  her anxiety was causing her physical symptoms, her first fear was, “No one’s going to believe me, they are going to think I made this all up”.  Sadly she  thought this because she has been through the exact same things before- even  at your hospital, when a neurologist told her “it was all in her head”.

You let her know that no matter her diagnoses, you cared. You believe her. When she was at her most vulnerable and frightened, each one of you took the time to reassure her. Every time she apologized for needing care,  you looked her in the eye  and told her that she had nothing to be sorry for. She was sick, and needed care. You were there to care for her.

I can tell you as the mother of a child, now young adult with  mental illness, so many times I’ve heard  that her illness isn’t as “bad” or “scary” or “dangerous” as other illnesses.  I can also tell you that is most certainly is as bad, as in not being able to leave the house for days- or even not being able to move, as scary as thinking that there is not reason to go on living because your depression is so bad, and dangerous as a suicide attempt.  There shouldn’t be quantifiers on illness, and you didn’t place any, You just gave excellent care.

You talked to us both through our nighttime fears.  You apologized when you had to give her shots of heparin in her stomach to help be sure she didn’t get blood clots because she couldn’t move, and you celebrated with us each tiny improvement, even when it was just a tiny wiggle of a finger.  You helped us in so any way, but most of all, for treating us like any other patient – and by showing us that you cared.

So Sandara, Danielle, Shannon, Julietea,  Anne, David, Chelsea, Marcia, Mahabaha, Yannible & Kristen,  on those days where you are running ragged in an understaffed hospital thinking that you aren’t doing anything right, please please know, you are.  Please know that the love and care that you gave truly made a difference to us. Patients are lucky to have you. WE were lucky to have you.

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