When a Nurse Listens

Turning down the hall of the 12th floor of Mott Children’s hospital I nearly ran into a nurse I knew. A co-worker and I were circulating a hospitality cart around to patient rooms to offer comfort items. I work at the Ronald McDonald House of Ann Arbor and we were piloting the new program before our volunteers started.

I have years of memories from spending time on the floors of the old Mott Hospital and the new Mott Hospital. Some are crushing, such as the death of my first-born child, Kodey, and some are victorious such as with my daughter, Alisha’s many close calls with death. At birth she was diagnosed with brain damage due from a viral infection I contracted during pregnancy. Alisha has been in an out of the hospital many times in twenty-four years.

I have a good memory of the caregivers my children have had over the years, particularly the ones who stopped at nothing to give their best.
“You’ve been here a long time,” I said as the nurse, Kaitlyn, and I almost collided.

We looked at each other before she responded, “Yep, 16 years.”

“You took care of my daughter a long time ago. I don’t expect you to remember us, but I will never forget you,” I told her.

“Did I do good?” she half-smiled. She looked tired.

“Oh yes!” I declared, “Without you I don’t know if my daughter would have lived. She had gone into respiratory distress and when I called you to come quick to her room, you came and listened to me.”

“Was that in the old hospital?” Kaitlyn asked.

“Yes. Alisha is 24 now so it must have been about 12 years ago when she had her spinal fusion,” I remarked.

“So before Rapid Response was introduced?” she asked.

“Oh yes. We’ve been here many times since that hospitalization and have had to use Rapid Response.,” I responded.

I continued, “It was quite chaotic the day that I’m thinking back on. Alisha had a persistent roommate who kept hounding me as to why Alisha wasn’t talking to her. I was trying to ignore her questions to focus on Alisha who had endured eight hours of spinal fusion surgery. Since she doesn’t speak, I carefully observed how she was coping. I grew concerned when Alisha kept dozing off while watching Barney, the purple dinosaur, her absolute favorite object of affection. I had called you to the room because I knew something wasn’t right. After hearing my concerns, you called the pain management team, thinking that may be the cause Alisha drifting off to sleep. Things did not improve after their visit, so I called you again to the room. You paged the surgeon and told me you would be right back after you attended to your other patients. You had departed about two minutes before I zipped into the hall to find you because the situation worsened. I caught you leaving another patient’s room and alerted you to come quick because things were not right. You listened to me. Within seconds you had the P.I.C.U. team in the room with Alisha and she was transferred to the P.I.C.U. floor for life-saving measures. The doctor who had arrived because of your call told me, later, that seconds counted because Alisha’s blood pressure was 40/20 when he got there,” I finished.

She looked at me with a full smile now, “How is Alisha now?”

“She’s great,” I said.

“Thank you for telling me her story. You made my day,” Kaitlyn shuffled off.
And she made mine I thought smiling.