Let me say that Florence Nightingale was a super duper nurse. She was fearless, smart and driven. Me, on the other hand I am empathetic, sympathetic and most comfortable with a team of extremely competent, intelligent, “up for it” anesthesiologists and nurses. I am a good assistant to those thrill seekers, the adrenalin junkies. I love to sit by a patient’s side after surgery and put cold compresses on their head, hold their hand, calm them, give them as much pain medicine as it takes, keep them breathing and safe. High drama, a code, a disappearing BP, a flat line, GULP. I will do everything I can to keep things from going into crisis mode….that is why my patients do well. I wouldn’t have it any other way.
At the end of a busy work day or two or four I feel like the life has been sucked out of me. I’m a crinkled up balloon lying on the floor. Florence was the opposite. For crying out loud she joined a war. She ran to disasters.
a large TIDBIT about Florence Nightingale, a British citizen: 1853-The Crimean War broke out. More British soldiers died from unsanitary conditions at Scutari, the British base hospital in Constantinople, than from their actual wounds. 1854- The secretary of War asked Florence to help. On short notice she assembled a group of female nurses from various religious orders and they sailed to Crimea. Typhoid and cholera greeted them. Florence and 34 trained nurses went to work. Working every waking moment they cared for the soldiers. Florence got the less infirmed men to help clean with scrub brushes procured by her tenacity, squeaky wheel, if you wish, to obtain them. The soldiers were washed and gotten off the filthy ground onto cots with clean linen and bandages. They were fed fresher and more easily digested food. I don’t know how she managed to get all of this done. Can you imagine the conflict between the male doctors and female nurses. Before Florence nurses had the reputation of being dirty, drunken, ignorant and good for nothing besides menial work. (Remember this is way before women get the right to vote or women’s lib….way before the glass ceiling metaphor.) Only Florence was permitted to be in the hospital after dark. She carried a lantern to check on the men…earning the name “the Lady with the Lamp”. The male doctors had to be convinced that the nurses were going to actually help and not be another hazard to overcome. Florence did it! She raised the bar to a higher standard for nurses. With her hard work and determination the hospital death rates were reduced by two thirds in just 21 months of work. She is my hero.