Even as a young girl, Teresa Stone dreamed of donning a nurse's white cap. Her mother Gene Sweek recalled her daughter's total obsession with the profession.
"She had her own little white dress and cap," Sweek said.
When she was 16, Stone decided she'd waited long enough.
"I waltzed into St. Anthony Hospital and said take me, I'm yours," said Stone, who is now 66.
Director of Nursing Laverne Powell whisked her upstairs to learn the art of bed making. Before long, Stone was working as an aide in the obstetrics department under the thumb of a stern nurse named Sister Consolata. The teenager autoclaved instruments, readied delivery rooms, made baby formula, washed diapers and sat with laboring women when the nuns went off to pray.
After nursing school, she eventually spent over 30 years as charge nurse in the neonatal intensive care unit at the Oregon Health & Science University. She is former president of the Oregon Nurses Association and currently serves on the American Nurses Association Board.
Stone is also a history buff who combined her love of nursing, history and poetry into a compilation called "Poems from the Heart of Nursing" that came out last May.
Stone loves to hop into the way back machine, especially regarding the history of nursing. Her poetry compilation came about after reading every back issue of the American Journal of Nursing, starting with the first issue in 1901. As she read, she noticed poems tucked in among the articles, written by patients, nurses and doctors.
"An amateurish poet" herself, Stone collected the best and eventually got permission from the American Journal of Nursing to publish the collection that was copyrighted by the American Nurses Association. Stone wrote introductions to the poems with historical factoids and personal information about the poets.
A poem called "Anesthesia," written by a Scottish patient in 1903 after having his leg amputated, describes the experience of receiving ether. In the intro, Stone explained the nurse's job of dripping liquid ether onto a piece of cloth over a patient's mouth or nose.
"Often more horrific than the surgery itself, the noxious smell of ether was so overwhelming that taking the demanded deep breath could all but choke the patient, who would begin to fight and struggle, which meant receiving even more ether."
"The Nurse's Vision" was penned by nurse Margaret Shanks, who contracted dysentery as she cared for wounded and sick soldiers during the four-month Spanish American War in 1898.
Nurse poet Ruth Brewster Sherman writes of the iconic nurse Florence Nightingale during the Crimean War in the 1850s. In the intro, Stone describes the filthy, vermin-infested hospital that Nightingale saw upon her arrival. Meant to hold some 1,700 patients, the hospital's four miles of hallways instead were littered with 3,000 to 4,000 men, most on the bare floor. Nightingale and her team of nurses slowly improved the standards.
Though not as dramatic, Stone has seen plenty of changes in her own more modern career, starting with the demise of the white uniform and nurse's cap.
"The caps, they decided, were dirty germ carriers," Stone said. "The white uniforms, in many instances, were impractical."
The past few decades have also brought massive technological changes, with life-saving medical equipment and electronic health records, and the advent of huge hospital systems such as Catholic Health Initiatives, which owns St. Anthony Hospital.
Stone continues to serve on the American Nurses Association Board of Directors as secretary. She also works as a professional registered certified parliamentarian. She and her husband Eric keep homes in Beaverton and Pendleton.
Stone's compilation is available in paperback on Amazon for $18.04. Proceeds go to the American Nurses Foundation to assist in nursing research and education.
Contact Kathy Aney at email@example.com or call 541-966-0810.
This story originally appeared in East Oregonian.