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Not Much Left to Say

So, my cousin, Frank died yesterday. He spent almost a month in ICU with ARDS subsequent to H1N1. It was not a good time for our family and there really isn’t much good to say. But that isn’t to say that there is nothing good to say.

My cousin’s son, FJ who is 25 years old and now the man of the family, called me yesterday when my cousin’s doctors were running out of treatment options. It was a dire situation and he knew it and it all came down to the familiar waiting game. As we waited, FJ told me that the whole experience had given him a lot to think about and that he was thinking about changing his major to nursing.

There are several nurses in our family but FJ has never really seen us at work. Before this week, he never really considered nursing as a career. He honestly doesn’t know the difference between Levophed and sudofed. But somewhere along the way, the ICU nurses at the Baton Rouge General inspired FJ to at least think about growing up to be just like them.

This is easy to imagine when a patient in a dire situation is admitted and through heroics, the nurses save lives and restore a patient to good health. That obviously didn’t happen.

It says so much more that a team of nurses was able to care for a very complicated patient without losing sight of their number one priority of being compassionate to both the patient and the family.

Imagine doing your job so well that even when the outcome is not desired, a family member decides to be just like you.

The medical care my cousin received from numerous doctors was amazing. For this I am eternally grateful. But I am not ‘one of them’. I am a nurse, though and I was damn proud to be ‘one of us’ as the nurses gave my cousin every chance to live while at the same time, letting Frank die with dignity. What an amazing accomplishment. I am so proud.

As all of us go through the motions of our jobs, we should remember that we never know when someone will be looking towards us for inspiration. We need more nurses who go into the field because they are impressed by our ability to care for patients rather than our starting salary. We need nurses who realize that good nursing care is not always heroic and dramatic but is important in ways not seen on TV. We need nurses who remember that patients come with families and we cannot care for a patient without caring for the family.

4 Comments Post a comment
  1. Tori Troxclair #

    My sympathy to you and your family. I can so appreciate your letter this morning and share that same feeling of compasionate nursing. I’ve been an RN for 11 years and did my inital training at the Baton Rouge General (Mid City), and will always give credit to that facility and it’s wonderful staff for teaching me the flip side of nursing. It’s not only about the skill but the ability to incorporate skill with compasion without losing sight of your main objective. I hope your cousin’s son will persue his career in nursing now that he’s had a first hand look at the unique qualities most nurses have.

    March 18, 2010
  2. Angela #

    I’m so sorry that you and your family had to go through such a tough time, only to have a very sad ending. Know that y’all are in my thoughts and prayers during this time.
    It’s good to know that there are still nurses out there committed to the patient and the family, no matter how stressful the patient load or paperwork is. Tell FJ to pursue a nursing career. There is always room for one more good nurse out there!

    March 18, 2010

    • Thanks, Angela and Tori! I grew up at the General’s school of nursing and worked CCU there for years before moving to the lake. I much prefer the care at the general. The lake is a good place, too but it is too big for me. After being at the General for several years, there aren’t many people you don’t know at least a little. The Lake is too big for me!

      March 18, 2010
  3. Carlos Williams #

    I am also glad to see that there are still nurses out in the workforce that are in it because their hearts are in it and not just a dollar sign. I can truly say that I LOVE my profession. I like the feeling I get when I know I have touched someone being it the patient or a member of the family in a positive way regardless of the outcome. So thumbs up for the nurses who still have a heart of compassion. I am also sorry to hear of your loss! I will send a prayer up for you and your family.

    Carlos D Williams, RN, CLNC

    April 7, 2010

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