Who is YOUR Hero?
Super Man? Wonder Woman?
Nooooo.. who REALLY is your hero?
I have personally known the answer to that question for many years now but it was not until I had won Caregiver of the Year in 2008 at my place of employment, Lake Pointe Medical Center, that I seriously gave it more thought. The Tenet Healthcare Corporation, in honor of this achievement, would donate money in my name to a favorite cause, and when my supervisor asked what cause that would be, I immediately said, Doctors Without Borders.
MSF... Médecins Sans Frontières
In my mind, Doctors Without Borders is the epitome of what I believe in. Actually I like to think of it as Doctors and Nurses Without Borders!!! These medical professionals as well as lay people offer their services around the world in times of war, famine, disease, natural disaster, poverty, and political upheaval and they do it for ALL people as a truly humanitarian effort. It makes no difference your politics or your religion. It is based on need and each person who goes on a mission, many times puts his or her own life in danger to help others.
Doctors Without Borders is like a beacon in the night reaching out to save lives.
Imagine the logistics of going into a war-torn area, setting up a portable hospital to do emergency surgery and to treat and care for the sick, wounded and dying. What does it take for someone to get up off their butt, turn off the TV, and prepare to go to a foreign country to care for those less fortunate without anything in return except for the satisfaction of doing the right thing for your fellow human beings?
Many, many years ago when I was entering the nursing profession, I had a dream of sailing on the hospital ship, the S.S. Hope and traveling to far away places to deliver care to those who did not have, but desperately needed, medical care. But then life got in the way... marriage, children, and my dream was not realized but the spirit of the endeavor lived on. And perhaps that is why bedside nursing always appealed to me more than being in administration. I truly wanted the hands-on experience. I wanted the satisfaction of being there when someone was in need. I wanted to look in their eyes and say... "I am here for you." I wanted the feeling that I could be depended on in their time of need. And I don't care how many smart and talented doctors there are in the world, if there isn't someone to deliver the care, people will die. And it is those people who are the heart and soul of this organization!
It is frightening to be sick. It is frightening to be alone. It is frightening to not understand what is happening to your body when you are ill. If there was any way I could make it a little easier, then that was how I wanted to live my life. The people who work with MSF have taken that desire one huge step further... to leave the comfort of their home and their country to serve others in need. Yes, these are the people who are my heroes.
As a nurse, I remember the fear that went through the community as well as the hospital staff back in the 1980's when the AIDS epidemic erupted. Initially we had no idea what we were dealing with. It was heartbreaking to see those tested to be HIV positive shunned, sometimes by those who loved them the most and the gay community was hit the hardest.
That was when "universal precautions" came into being... when you became more aware of protecting yourself from bodily secretions and donned gowns, gloves, goggles and masks as protection assuming that anyone could indeed harbor dangerous pathogens. As a bedside nurse, you are exposed to these every day of your career. And is there any nurse working at the bedside who has not been the victim of a splash or a needle stick? I would say, very few! Accidents happen to the best of us in spite of the precautions we may take.
Here are some of my favorite books on photography as well as Doctors Without Borders.
And then came the "super bugs"... those nasty infections that had developed a resistance to our life-saving antibiotics. We were also dealing with drug-resistant tuberculosis. Suddenly we were vulnerable again. We were isolating more and more patients on a daily basis. Our TB patients would be put in a "negative pressure" room so that the air they breathed would not be shared with the rest of the hospital in an attempt to prevent spread of the disease and special masks would need to be worn by anyone in close proximity to the patient.
Now today as I read of the Ebola virus in Africa, I relive the fears of the past and remember what it was like. Ignorance about the Ebola virus is causing families to actually fear the hospitals preferring to care for patients at home and praying for their cure, many times not realizing that without quarantine, they are simply at risk of getting as well as spreading the disease. And what happens to these bodies if they should die? Until a cure can be found, there is no choice but to isolate to help stop the spread. And in our modern world, it is easier than ever to spread unwanted organisms... it is no more than a plane flight away... literally, hours away.
In spite of the risk, there are those heroes who are working to care for the victims of Ebola and several workers have come down with the disease. A doctor from Fort Worth, Dr. Kent Brantly and Nancy Writebol were infected with Ebola while working for the aid group Samaritan's Purse in Liberia. Samaritan's Purse has described them as being in grave but stable condition and there are plans underway to possibly fly them home to the U.S. for care.
We all wait, watch and listen as more news comes our way. If you can possibly do so, support these brave men and women who put their lives on the line in hopes that others may live. I donate to Doctors Without Borders on a regular basis, for you are my heroes!
Thank you for what you do in the world! Your work matters to so many!
Keywords: AIDS, Africa, Doctors Without Borders, Dr. Kent Brantly, Ebola, MSF, Nancy Writebol, Quarantine, Samaritan's Purse, Super Bugs, Tuberculosis
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