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LETTER: 'I watch in awe as nurses fight a war while keeping my mother safe'

"These women are strong! They are brave! They are amazing!  And the battle has just begun."
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While Lions Gate Hospital gears up for a potential outbreak, there are still patients inside for other maladies who depend on staff to keep them safe. Photo by Mike Wakefield/North Shore News

The following is a letter sent to the North Shore News

I want to tell you about a girl I met this week – I call her a girl because here am I, in my second half of life, and she seems like a girl to me – one who reminds me of my daughters or nieces – but she is not really a ‘girl’ – she is a woman, and a powerful one at that.

Let’s call her Miss M. I met her because I have been here, attending to the bedside of my mother, in Lions Gate Hospital in North Vancouver, and I have watched while this medical unit has engaged in this modern war – the battle against the virus.

Miss M seems to be one of the senior nurses here on the ward. The generals in this battle are the health authority, and the officers are the administrators and doctors. Miss M is a soldier, and she is here, in Harm’s Way. 

I have watched her as the news first came that the virus had been found, but in the hospital’s admin group – no patients ... not inside the wards. And then the first shots were heard – a patient had it and had been moved to the ICU in isolation.

I have been here every day over the last month, as Miss M calmly and professionally did her job. Like any soldier would do. And her backpack is loaded. She is carrying me on her back – asking when my mother’s pain medication would arrive. She is carrying the Alzheimer’s patient, who doesn’t understand that their desire for an additional blanket is not Miss M’s most urgent task. Each day Miss M has calmly instructed me on how to keep myself and my mother safe, here in the midst of the battle. The other day I looked her in the eye and said “when I see you start to panic, then I will start to panic” and she turned and kept soldiering on.

But there is more on her back as well. Things we can’t see. In a moment of conversation I asked if she had a husband?

“Yes” she said.

“Freaking out” I asked?

“Kinda ... life is hard all around.” And then she turned and kept soldiering on. 

While the rest of the city is scrambling to buy toilet paper, Miss M is drawing on a dwindling supply of masks to keep her unit safe. She is fighting a battle and there is an apparent shortage of ammunition. Such is war.

I doubt anyone else will get a chance to record the valiant fight defended by Miss M. She probably won’t be awarded the Victoria Cross. Partly because Miss M is but one. Miss B comes and replaces M for 12 hours at a time. Miss B deserves the Victoria Cross as well. These women are strong! They are brave! They are amazing!  And the battle has just begun.

So Miss M, Miss B, Miss L, Miss A – pick any letter of the alphabet you choose – there is a nurse with a name doing battle in the war.

My prayers are for you! You carry such a load! 

And thank you for your service – God Bless You all!

Peter Teevan
North Vancouver

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