One hairstylist took a moment out of her day to consider life walking in the shoes of a hardworking, caring nurse from Whitesburg, Kentucky.
The nurse of 20 years had once taken care of her grandmother in a nursing home. That morning, she arrived at Captivate Salon & Spa to have a four-hour cut-and-color treatment done. She showed up with breakfast to share with hair stylist Ashley Bolling, 34, even though she had been up all night without sleep.
Jodi Back, 43 had worked the night shift for 13-hours straight caring for sick and injured patients. Now she was taking some time for herself, even if she could barely keep her eyes open. The nurse got in the stylist’s chair, propped her feet up on another chair, and soon fell asleep as Bolling started her work.
Suddenly, the stylist had what she called one of those “stop-you-in-your-tracks” moments.
Looking down, she saw the nurse’s pink and blue comfortable tennis shoes. For a moment, she wondered what it must be like walking in the nurse’s shoes. What must it be like to give everything you have to care for people who need you at their weakest moments? To serve them with selfless kindness, compassion, and skill as you work tirelessly for hours throughout the long dark night?
Bolling was inspired to take a picture of the nurse’s shoes and collected her inspired thoughts to share on social media. The now-removed post went viral, touching thousands of people who recognized this anonymous nurse through Bolling’s eyes.
“I wondered how many miles those shoes have walked,” Bolling wrote.
“I wondered what they’d walked through. Blood? Tears? In & out of the countless rooms of the patient’s (sic) she’s cared for? I wondered how many hours they’ve carried her, and all those like her, while they literally save the lives of those we love and hold the hands of the ones who can no longer fight that fight.”
Bolling had known this nurse for many years since she took care of her beloved grandmother. Now she considers her a true friend.
“She actually took care of my grandmother in the nursing home very early in her career,” she told The Kansas City Star.
This time, it was her turn to care for the nurse in her own way.
“But with those shoes propped up in that chair, phone in her lap, I got the chance to take care of her (even if it was just for a few hours)”
“…and I felt extremely honored to take care of such a hard-working, inspiring woman I’m so lucky to call my friend,” she wrote.
With a simple picture of pink sneakers, Bolling expressed her thanks for all the people who devote their lives to taking care of others through the nursing profession. In our time of need, they mean the world to us, and they don’t get nearly enough thanks or recognition.
“I’ve always respected and valued these amazing super-heroes and am proud to be the sister, daughter, niece, friend, and hairstylist of so many.”
“Know you are appreciated, know you are irreplaceable, know you are loved!”
Following the viral post, Bolling and Back received a flood of media attention. In an interview with TODAY, Bolling explained what led her to post the picture of Jodi Back’s shoes.
“She’s usually this spunky, energetic little thing, but she was so tired,” Bolling told TODAY. “It was one of those moments that just smacks you in the face. They’re always taking care of the people that we love, and they don’t get the appreciation they deserve.”
The post and its sentiments were truly appreciated by the hardworking nurse.
“I was very tired. It had been a rough night. It was just so gratifying to see Ashley’s message. My daughter told me I had to look at Facebook, and it was a total shock. That was so nice of her to do,” said Back.
She explained that she has a habit of falling asleep in unusual places, after decades of working the night shift.
“I’ve worked the night shift for half my life, so I fall asleep everywhere,” Back joked. “There were times, usually when I picked up a shift at a hospital farther away, when I slept in the car on the side of the road.”
TODAY noted that Back’s husband arrived at the salon shortly after she woke up in the chair. He came to take those pink sneakers off his wife’s feet since their daughter forgot her track shoes at high school that day. The always giving nurse gladly gave the shoes off her feet and left the salon in her socks.
“That’s just the nurse personality,” Back said with a laugh.
It’s about time nurses like Jodi Back get the thanks and recognition they deserve for all the sacrifices they make to help people, from total strangers to their best friends.
If you want to help show appreciation for nurses, you can take part in National Nurses Week, starting May 6 to May 12, the birthday of Florence Nightingale, the founder of modern nursing.
One easy way you can celebrate the week is to share a story just as Ashley Bolling did with a hashtag of #nursesweek.