On May 6th, I woke up grateful to be alive. What is significant about that day? Well, it is the beginning of National Nurses Week. I am incredibly thankful for one nurse who worked as a critical member of a team that saved my life over 11 years ago. Nurse Sharon, as I affectionately call her, came into my hospital room at Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital in New Brunswick, New Jersey, on January 31, 2009. The conversation we had that day was about life and death.
Nurse Sharon spoke with my husband and me with conviction and concern, stating that I should have a potentially life-saving procedure done on that day. Apprehensively, I tried to find ways that I could avoid it. She gave me the facts by letting me know that another individual refused the procedure, and they found him the next morning drowned in his vomit. She was not telling me that story to scare me, but to inform me and to save me.
I thought about it deeply before I went to sleep. I positioned my bed on a slight angle for comfort, but soon found out it was not just for comfort. On February 1, 2009, I experienced the most violent vomiting episode that I could have ever imagined. As I called for Nurse Sharon, I looked at the mess that lay across my bed. The feeling of sorrow and anguish came over me, and Nurse Sharon quickly came into my room.
Nurse Sharon brought in the necessary items to perform the procedure that I wholly dreaded – a towel, a cup of water with a straw, an assistant, and of course, the nasogastric tube, also known as an NG tube. Nurse Sharon patiently worked with me to insert the tube into my nostril, down my throat, and to my stomach, where relief would undoubtedly come to remove bile that was building.
At that pivotal moment in my life, Nurse Sharon was there. She provided me comfort with the most calming, warm, beautiful, and angelic spirit that I could have ever imagined. She was more than a nurse; she was like family. I will always hold a special place in my heart for Nurse Sharon.
Each year at this time, in honor of National Nurses Week, I make sure to celebrate Nurse Sharon because I am thankful that she was in the right place at the right time. God placed her there for me, and for that, I will be forever grateful.
For those who have positively impacted my life, it is my responsibility to give them their flowers while they are here. In addition to National Nurses Week, I must also pay homage to Mother’s Day and speak about two women who are crucial to my existence – my mother, Patricia Harrell Wilson, and my grandmother, Hilda Mae Brown Harrell.
The strength that I have witnessed in my mother is nothing short of amazing. Even when people disappointed her, she kept going. My Sister Sharise and I never completely knew the struggle that our mother dealt with because she was consistent, never complained, and was determined to succeed. As a single parent, she was there to be our provider and our foundation. She raised us to be God-fearing, loving, kind, confident, able, organized, fearless, motivated, determined, fierce women who have accomplished many goals and continue to aspire to greatness. I commend my mother for her strength, positive spirit, and supportiveness, which helped to raise my sister and me to be intelligent, creative, productive, and educated women.
My grandmother, who we called “Nanny,” and I now refer to as my guardian angel, provided us with the foundation to be loving, caring, intelligent, women who could do anything in life that we desired to do. She was selfless in the way she cared for everyone. Many of the neighborhood children thought of her as their grandmother. She was a true friend to many and would give her last dime to help anyone in need. Her life was not entirely without struggle, but she was determined to be the best she could be. Before her mother (my great grandmother Elvira Wells Brown) passed away, my great grandmother told my Nanny to “take care of everything and everybody.” She respected her mother completely and did what she wanted her to do.
I could never fill the shoes that my mother and grandmother have given me to fill, but I try to take every lesson they taught me and let those lessons guide me in my life. I thank God for allowing these phenomenal women to raise me, and I love them with all my heart and soul. My mother still amazes me. She is always consistent, reliable, timely, motivated, and has an unmatched determination and strength. She is so inspiring and full of energy. What an example she has set. I wish God blesses my mother always.
I shall continue to live the best life that I can for as long as I have breath in my body and give those who have affected me positively the flowers they deserve. I would not be who I am without the people who have loved, supported, and cared for me. I would be remiss if I did not mention that many other women have been an essential part of my life – there are too many to name – some are here, and some have passed on. I will never forget the love the women in my life have shown me.
Happy Mother’s Day to all mothers for your selflessness and unconditional love. Happy National Nurses Week to nurses all over the world for your tireless efforts. You mean so much to all of us and deserve the absolute best that life has to offer.
Live, laugh, love, and pray.
God Bless You with Good Health and Wellness,
Antoinette Shar’ron Johnson
“Empowering, inspiring, motivating, and uplifting your mind, body, and soul!”
To read more about my hospitalization, spiritual journey, and the battle that I endured, please purchase my book 12 Days: A Story of Faith, Hope, Healing, and Victory. To read a chapter snippet from 12 Days, please click here. Books can be purchased from Amazon or Barnes and Noble online.