Monday, October 12, 2015

Thank You From Our Patients

I heard a voice behind me, “Nurse, nurse”. When I turned around, I saw an elderly man leaning heavily on his cane as he tried to get my attention. The ED was extremely busy at that time and the noise level was high but the gravelly voice had a desperate note to it that made me stop. The elderly man just wanted to thank me for staying with his anxious wife while he parked the car. It was just a simple gesture, just a few minutes of my time. To this couple, this meant that the wife’s anxiety did not unravel to a full-blown panic attack. I was just doing my job. But the appreciation from the couple made my day. The elderly man didn't know that just a few minutes ago, I came from assisting in a cardiac arrest of a young man who succumbed from an overdose. His Thank You was a God-sent relief for me.

In our nursing lifetimes, we treasure those moments that validate the reason why we stayed in this profession. The “thank yous” are our emotional rewards. The appreciation from our patients and from our peers lifts our spirits and keeps us going. How wonderful it is to know that we have made a difference.

The following are excellent examples of how nurses changed lives:

Renee, NICU nurse, received a wonderful surprise from the babies she cared for. She is a miracle worker.

Lawrence O’Donnell, a news anchor from MSNBC, delivered an emotional tribute to the doctors and nurses who cared for him after an accident.

Bailey Murill, 17 year old at that time, was paralyzed for 11 days after a freak accident horse-playing with her family at home. She landed awkwardly on her back and was unable to move her legs. Through all the harrowing experience of finding out the reason for her illness, she developed a close relationship with her nurses at Zale Lipshy University Hospital. She came back from Rehab after regaining the use of her legs to surprise her favorite nurse.

Amanda Scarpinati sustained severe third-degree burns to her body when she was a mere baby. Just three months old, she rolled off a couch into a steam vaporizer. Over the years, she underwent reconstructive surgeries. She took comfort from a picture of her in the arms of a nurse at Albany Medical Center. Thirty eight years later, she was able to reunite with Susan Burger, the nurse who took care of her.

"I don't know how many nurses would be lucky enough to have something like this happen, to have someone remember you all that time," Berger said. "I feel privileged to be the one to represent all the nurses who cared for her over the years."

When things get rough, when the pressures of being a nurse threaten to overwhelm us, let us remember the special moments of appreciation from the patients and their families who deserve our very best to offer.

Happy Emergency Nurses Week to all the courageous nurses at the frontline of our emergency departments.

Addendum: 9/17/2016

Gary Bentley held on to a photograph of him and a nurse named Kathy for 40 years. In 1975, Gary and his siblings were placed in foster care because of an abusive father. He also underwent open heart surgery at that time. In those difficult times, Nurse Kathy made a long-lasting impression on young Gary. See the emotional reunion.