Her sister wrote that "Florence doesn't sleep longer than 2 hours a night and refuses to consider her weakness for fear it will mean the needed reforms are not carried out."
Florence Nightingale- Nurse- 4 (conclusion)
A Character story about determination.
The Crimean War ended on March 30, 1856 but Florence did not return home until July. Miss Nightingale's nursing work during that war in Russia had made her famous all over England. Many welcome celebrations were planned when she arrived to honour her sacrifice to raise the quality of hospital care for the soldiers. But Florence wanted none of that. She traveled from Paris under a make-believe name, and sneaked home to Lea Hurst, entering by the rear door so no one would recognize her in the neighborhood. The war effort had taken its toll on her. Though only 36 years old, Florence was exhausted, and sick, and desperately needed a rest.
But such a rest was not to be. She knew that the need for improved hospital care was on the minds of the people right now. If lasting change was to take place, it would have to begin immediately. So Florence "told it like it is." "England should know that of the 4,600 soldiers who died, most of them would have recovered if suitable equipment and care had been available. A full 60% (that's 6 out of 10) died of disease in the hospital. Proper care would have reduced this number sharply."
In the avalanche of mail she received in the first few weeks after returning to England was a letter from Sir James Clark, physician to Queen Victoria. He invited Florence to move to a place in Scotland where she could converse with the Queen about her desired reforms. Florence accepted the invitation. She wrote, "You cannot do more for those who have suffered and died in their country's service... It remains for us to strive that their sufferings may not have been endured in vain, to endeavor so to learn from experience as to lesson such sufferings in the future by forethought and wise management."
For the next six months Florence compiled her findings on needed hospital change and published it in Notes Affecting the Health, Efficiency and Hospital Administration of the British Army.
The work was not easy. Those presently in charge of the hospital work didn't like her saying that they were not doing a good job. Then too, she had change public opinion by convincing them that nursing was a legitimate occupation for many women, and that it required training to be carried out properly. Thus, the changes were slow in coming.
But Florence had never been one to sit back and merely give ideas. So by January of 1858 Florence was planning a public tantrum if action was not taken on her ideas. Under this pressure, Florence's health grew worse and she was on the verge of a complete breakdown. Her sister wrote that "Florence doesn't sleep longer than 2 hours a night and refuses to consider her weakness for fear it will mean the needed reforms are not carried out."
Finally in 1859 Florence finished her Notes on Nursing, which became an international best seller. St. Thomas' Hospital in London opened its doors to nurses' training, receiving funds from the Nightingale Nursing Fund. The first 15 students were selected on June 24th, 1860, a date now called the birthday of modern nursing. A bill reforming nursing in the workhouses was passed on March 29, 1867. In 1874 the National Nursing Association was formed, whose purpose was to provide trained nurses to care for the poor sick in their homes. A central Home for Nurses was established to provide proper housing for single women who were caring for the sick. The nursing reforms culminated in the formation of the Red Cross, an international organization still active in caring for the sick throughout the world.
For many of God's servants, their early life and training leads to the realization of their life purpose in their last years. Such was the case for Moses, who was 80 when he delivered Israel, and Jesus, whose earthly ministry filled the last 3 years of his life. For others, however, their life work is completed long before their death. Joseph, in Genesis 37-50, was 44 when the world famine ended and his family was safe in Egypt. Yet he lived to be 110. Such is the example of the life of Florence Nightingale. Most of the nursing reforms for which she worked tirelessly were accomplished by the time she was 45 years old. The last 45 years she remained an invalid and recluse. She refused most visitors and was little interested in the outside world, except in areas dealing with nursing. Her body never recovered from the exhaustive pace during and after the war. When she did entertain important visitors, it left her exhausted. Often when visitors came, they went to a different room and Florence communicated with them by means of notes! Others answered her mail for her, though she would make comments in the margin directing the writer what to say. All the time she did continue to learn more about the Lord. She said, "Wretch that I was not to see that God was taking from me all human help in order to compel me to lean on Him alone. O Lord, even now I am trying to snatch the management of Thy world out of Thy hands . . . O God, to Thy glory, not to mine, whatever happens, may be all my thought."
On August 13, 1910 Florence Nightingale slept peacefully away. She was offered a burial place in Westminster Abbey (where the most famous English people are buried) but instead she was buried by her mother and father. On the marker is simply stated, "F.N. Born 1820. Died 1910." "Live your life while you have it," she said. "Life is a splendid gift. There is nothing small in it, for the greatest things grow by God's law out of the smallest. But to life your life, you must discipline it. You must not fritter it away . . . but must make your thought, your work, your acts all work to the same end, and that end not in self but in God. This is what we call character."