On page 35 of her new memoir, “Tying the Ribbon,” Haley Stark makes a request. “I’m going to ask you to pause in your reading for moment,” she writes. “If you know a pediatric nurse, I beg you to thank them immediately. There may be no more noble a profession than nursing.”
Haley, who grew up in Falmouth, has spent more time around nurses than anyone her age deserves. In 2014, she suffered a spinal cord stroke that left her paralyzed from the neck down, barely able to breathe. She was twelve years old. That’s when Nurse Suzi came into her life.
“I honestly couldn’t tell you what she did medically to help me,” Haley says. “I’m not entirely sure.” Suzi worked in the pediatric intensive care unit at Tufts Medical Center in Boston. She painted Haley’s nails, braided her hair, cracked jokes, made her laugh, did anything she could to lift the spirits of a girl who couldn’t lift a spoon to feed herself.
“She was incredible,” Haley says of Suzi. “She changed everything. She brought comedy into this extremely tragic time.”
It has been a challenging and arduous road for Haley, who has managed to regain nearly all of her physical abilities. Her gratitude is palpable, and it’s clear that Nurse Suzi sits at the top of the list of people to whom she owes a debt she can never repay. “I credit her,” she says simply, “with saving my life.”