From 'Fake Nurse' to Hero
"Are you sure she’s a real nurse?" It was hard not to notice that my neighbor Christy, the operating-room nurse who saw many of the worst traumas imaginable, often seemed challenged by the simplest every-day medical predicaments. Tylenol or Advil? Does this wound need stitches? Do you have a Band-Aid? We would soon discover that our neighbor, whom we'd jokingly dubbed "the fake nurse," had a much more impressive area of expertise.
My first glimpse of Christy in action occurred the day my daughter underwent a tonsillectomy. Christy never left my side during the surgery. She kept me distracted and displayed the kind of compassion that a nervous young mother never forgets.
After taking a 10-year professional detour, Christy returned to the OR in 2019. Life was good until COVID-19 hit Bergen County, New Jersey, like a nuclear bomb. As floors of Hackensack Hospital were converted to COVID units, all nurses were reassigned. Christy found herself on the front lines of a virus from which the rest of us were running scared. She jumped in wholeheartedly, once again witnessing horrific medical nightmares, but this time on a scale that no one had ever seen.
"She jumped in wholeheartedly, once again witnessing horrific medical nightmares, but this time on a scale that no one had ever seen."
Somehow, in the middle of her long and challenging days, Christy took on the role of community angel. She began posting on local Facebook pages, imploring people to self-quarantine and follow the imposed guidelines. Responses quickly filled the pages, ranging from questions to supportive words that warmed my heart. Our community needed a face of hope, but this was not a one-sided endeavor.
Living next door, I started seeing people leaving things on Christy’s doorstep. Masks, hand sanitizer, and immunity-boosting supplements seemed to arrive daily. I made her homemade chicken soup, but nothing seemed like enough. Christy began offering to visit loved ones suffering alone in their hospital beds. She also volunteered to shop for vulnerable members of the community. I don’t know where she found the hours or the strength, but she rose to the occasion like a superhero.
As the weeks passed, Christy began posting numbers of patients being discharged or coming off ventilators. Her small glimmer of hope created much-needed optimism. Eventually, the online community rejoiced when she returned to her OR job and again when she was recognized as a superstar first responder on a local radio station. Always humble, Christy takes no credit, but the facts speak for themselves. She is a true hero.