Nurse Nancy

Nurse Nancy

From Chicken Soup for the Nurse's Soul Second Dose

Nurse Nancy

The man who has confidence in himself gains the confidence of others.

Hasidic Saying

My strong sense of what I wanted to be when I grew up came from memories of my first five years of childhood spent in an orphanage in Ohio. I fondly remember a nurse who was my friend there. She was my “Angel of Mercy,” my real-life Nurse Nancy. She wore a white hat, starched white uniform, tight white hose, white shoes, and a blue cape. How I loved my nurse. She told me stories, tickled me, made me giggle and laugh, and filled my bath full of huge colored bubbles. My nurse was my hero and I wanted to be just like her.

When I was blessed by being adopted, my parents must have known my devotion to this nurse. I arrived at my new home to find a gift placed in my very own bed—a nursing outfit: a white uniform, cap, and cape, plus shots, Band-Aids, and a stethoscope. Everything I would need to fulfill my role as Nurse Nancy.

Remember Golden Books? As a child I treasured them. My favorite was titled, no surprise, Nurse Nancy. This treasured book read, “Nancy liked to play with dolls. She liked to play mother. Best of all, she liked to play nurse.” That was me as a child. I bandaged my dolls, my dog, my brother! Anyone who would sit long enough was nursed. I gave M&Ms to my patients for pills, which, needless to say, kept me busy playing nurse. All the neighborhood children lined up for my care. I, like Nurse Nancy, kept logbooks with recorded names of my patients, such as Baby 1, Baby 2. Listed diseases included, but were not limited to, sick, fever, cold, and measles.

Make-believe days have passed. I have been a “real” nurse for thirty-plus years.

Of all my years as a nurse, the greatest blessing this career gave me happened sixteen years ago when my husband and I spent three weeks in Romania waiting to adopt our twin sons. Because they were six weeks premature, we had to wait for them to gain weight before we could take them home. The doctor was reluctant to release these tiny babies to new, inexperienced parents. Needless to say, we were eager to return home with our twins.

One day as I talked to their nurses, I thanked them for their care. Despite our language barrier, I was able to see and feel the genuine concern they had for our soon-to-be sons. I witnessed again the reputation nurses have for caring and compassion . . . as far-reaching as an orphanage in Ohio to an orphanage in Romania. In this conversation, I revealed that I, too, was a nurse. At that moment the nurses left the room.

Shortly thereafter, through the doors burst an exuberant doctor, and in his marked Romanian accent he called out, “Why did you not tell me you were a nurse? I release your sons to your care today, Nurse Nancy!”

Nancy Barnes

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