Just when you think no one notices that nurses are holding up the world, former patients and their caregivers weigh in with heartfelt words of gratitude.
Here are five former patients who are grateful for the nurses who treated them, whether they saved a life or affirmed it:
Coffee and compassion for a pediatric cancer patient's mom
Jenny Jobson said she and her husband Rob leaned on the nurses at Children's Hospital of Atlanta Egleston literally from the second her 18-month-old daughter Bernadette was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia (AML). That first day passed in a blur, but Jobson said she "100 percent remembers the nurse who was with us, Amanda, during our diagnosis. She became our lead nurse and went with us from the diagnosis to being admitted from the ER onto the cancer floor. She was so loving. Her shift ended at 7 p.m and she promised she would be back in the morning and she was."
Bernadette received her first dose of chemo before the sun set that first day. She was inpatient for 97 of the 150 days she was treated with four rounds of chemotherapy at CHOA Egleston, ringing the bells and being discharged at the end of February 2017.
Jobson said she literally reeled throughout the first day. "When we first got the diagnosis, my world was spinning out of control; I physically felt off balance. There is this weird physical reaction, and then you just learn to take it the only way you really can: moment by moment. And then hour by hour and then you build that to being able to face a day. And then you go day by day, and, I don't know, it's like you build up an endurance, it's a strange thing."
Jobson said she felt like the nurses at CHOA "got it, letting you know there is someone who really knows what's going on" as her family reacted at different points in Bernadette's healthcare journey. "They're professionals," she added. "They would treat us delicately, but with confidence in their skills. I don't know how they did it. They dealt with these situations every day. I know there were days when a code would be called on our floor and our nurse would have to deal with that with confidence on her face or his face and then walk into our room, knowing that something tragic had happened in the room down the hall."
The Jobsons know they were fortunate to have a family member there at all times. "And the nurses and staff, they took such good care of our family," Jobson remembered. "The head nurse would work two days a week and on her first day back she would always walk in our room first thing with Bernadette's labs. She'd walk in with the count and a cup of coffee for me. It's not something I ever asked for. No one's ever expecting that a nurse is going to bring you a cup of coffee and remembers how you like that cup of coffee."
The Jobsons have not been back to the CHOA inpatient floor for two years, but are acutely aware that "relapse is a very real possibility with any kind of pediatric cancer, and the one that we're dealing with AML has a very high relapse rate," Jobson said. "That is a reality that childhood cancer families live with."
She has become an advocate for pediatric cancer awareness. "I'm really mindful of my friends who have become my family whose children aren't here anymore," she said. "I always try to make sure people understand that we don't know why what worked for Bernadette didn't work for other children. I don't understand and it isn't fair."
The night shift ER nurses were there for my child
An intubation inspired lifelong gratitude towards the Piedmont Walton emergency room nurses and medical staff from the Fowler family. Mom Tonya Fowler had arrived at the Monroe, Georgia, ER in the middle of the night with her 12-year-old son Eric in tow, and the boy was still experiencing severe asthmatic distress, as reported in a Piedmont Healthcare press release. The team couldn't stabilize Eric with traditional treatment and resorted to intubation, which kept his airway open long enough to transport him to a children's hospital in Atlanta. Eric made a full recovery and the family returned to the ER to say thanks and share the story for Emergency Nurses Week in October.
Piedmont Walton's Director of Emergency Services Todd Braswell took that opportunity to add his own gratitude for the "powerful, brave and compassionate" emergency nursing staff. "They have the capability to provide safe practice and care in difficult situations while remaining confident, strong and empowering their colleagues. I'm grateful that we're able to set this week apart to celebrate them."
Thanks for loving "the Queen"
Vivian Shipe, a retired postal worker and current census recruiter, said she is grateful for the nursing staff at the Shannondale of Maryville Skilled Nursing community in Knoxville under the direction of Sandra Franklin. For 14 years, they cared for Shipe's mother-in-law, Shirley Shipe Drummond, who came to be known as "the Queen of third floor," Shipe remembered. "She was diabetic and had a wound on her foot that would not heal. They watched and cared for that wound for a year. She did not lose her foot."
Shipe described her MIL as "a character" who chronicled her loved ones, many of them nurses, who had cared for her. "She had more than 700 family and nurse staff pictures on her wall and could tell if you took one," she added. "When she passed away, many of the nurses came to her funeral. They loved her and she loved them."
Nurses helped me accept my mom's Alzheimer's
Mitzi Blount of Jonesboro, Georgia, appreciates the nurses and social workers who make Piedmont Fayette Hospital's Sixty Plus Services Dementia Support and Education Group meetings possible.
"I have been attending support group meetings at Piedmont Fayette for the past three years, and Tori Sorrells and Lynette Dunn, who lead the group, have been wonderful," Blount said. "I would not be where I'm at without this group. I have received valuable information that I never had or thought about, as well as resources and shared experiences from others, and it has prepared me for what to expect with my mother who has Alzheimer's. My favorite thing, that has helped my family the most, is to stop expecting the unexpected and go along to get along. My mother is not going to change, I have to change. Alzheimer's disease affects our loved ones and we have to be patient."
Appreciating the everyday selflessness
Recently retired editorial producer Don C. Berry is grateful for all the nurses who helped when he had an unexpected cardiac event and subsequent surgery. But he said he's even more impressed with the nurses at Jefferson City Health and Rehabilitation Center in Jefferson City, Tenn. who help his mother, a dementia patient who has suffered hip fractures and been hospitalized numerous times in the past year. "Caregiving is one of the most difficult professions today," Berry explained. "Putting someone else's needs, always, ahead of your own is not only admirable, it's vital as Baby Boomers age into the era of needing health care assistance. We as a society need to appreciate them more and work together to make sure they are rewarded financially. We should all let caregivers and nurses know we support, appreciate and stand by them."
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