The hospital has “star grams” that patients and family can fill out to recognize exceptional care. We needed six could probably have done more….lots of wonderful nurses who were cheerful. Competent and encouraging. But we picked the ones who seemed to really make a difference.
First was Maureen, his nurse in ICU who was probably around fifty. She was with Jerry after surgery and then again when we landed back there after the chocolate shake fiasco when he could barely breathe and his heart rate skyrocketed. We must have looked like deer in headlights when we arrived and she said, “You again. I thought I got rid of you. Never mind. Your heart rate will come right down now that you’re back with just me and your wife around. It was all those cute young nurses on the seventh floor that got you so excited.”
And Dana, the nurse on the seventh floor who, when all hell broke loose, got me a cup of coffee and sat down and hugged me and told me it wasn’t my fault…they SAID he could have a shake…and just sat with me until we moved to ICU.
And Stephen, the first nurse Jerry had after we left ICU the second time, who told him he was doing great and never stopped smiling.
And Vilma, who quietly cleaned the room every day and stopped to chat when you asked her about her family. Her steadiness was so calming each day.
And Ashley…poor Ashley..who had the dubious honor of calming Jerry down and putting in the first feeding tube when he just wanted to try to swallow again. Erin and I told her forget it–they could try again in the morning. I don’t know how she did it or exactly what happened but Jerry called a few minutes later, around 9:00 and said, “It’s done. And Ashley thinks I’m wonderful, because I didn’t hit her.” They were both laughing ..first time he had laughed since surgery.
And Sharon…speech therapist. How do I describe this gifted woman? She made me wish I had a “do over” with teaching because she was the perfect teacher. I kept watching trying to figure out how she did it…the perfect mix of encouragement with helpful tips and straightforward, no nonsense this isn’t easy and I know it. The honesty…I can’t clear you for ice chips yet, you aren’t good enough…the constructive criticism…your voice sounds gravelly…clear your throat and swallow before you talk, the matter of fact ness …you’re going to eat again but it’s going to take time and work. You need to do those exercises. No fake, “you’re doing great” when he wasn’t but no “it’s not looking good” either. No matter how tired we both were or how discouraged, we were both smiling and laughing when Sharon left.
That reminded me of what my sister, Paula, Said almost twenty years ago..that the teachers who meant the most to her were not the ones who were the most interesting or funny or clever but the ones who saw something in her, who challenged her and made her believe she could do it.
So we hope to be out of here some time today But we know things move at glacial speed around here. Jerry’s nurse said there are seven people being discharged today and no orders have come through for any of them. Good thing Jerry is a patient patient. We have a bet on…I say he’ll be out before 3:30. He says it will be after 3:30. The prize will have something to do with picking the TV shows when we get home.
And I, by theway, am killing him at gin rummy this time around –ahead of him by 210 points at the moment. Last time he won he won 558 to 278 Revenge is sweet.