Taking the time to say thank you can have an immediate and long-lasting impact on the person you’re thanking.
It can uplift spirits or turn an “I wish I hadn’t gotten out of bed” day into the best day of the week (or year!). It can change a person’s perspective on life and positively affect interactions with others during the rest of the day. It may even alter someone’s career path.
Nurses appreciate hearing it and deserve every thank you they receive. Here, we share three stories in which nurses recount the unique circumstances of when, how, and why they received appreciation from a patient or family member. Can you relate?
Intubated and Fearful
By Brenda Randolph, RN (retired)
Nearly 40 years ago, I was floated to a male med-surg ward in a municipal hospital (back then, male and female patients were kept in separate units). I was assigned to care for a combative male patient who was intubated and on a ventilator.
In those days, intubated and ventilated patients were rarely sedated. He was in his 60s, but very tall and well-built. He was so combative that he had been placed in four-point restraints to prevent him from dislodging the endotracheal tube or injuring the staff.
I approached him with more than just a little trepidation. The first thing I noticed was the abject terror in his eyes. I lightly placed a hand on his arm, introduced myself, and told him I’d be caring for him that day. I told him that I understood how frightening it must be to be on a ventilator and to be restrained, as my mother had recently undergone the same treatment.
I could tell from his eyes that he understood what I was saying.
I explained the purpose of the ventilator and its importance and each step I would take and why. I told him I would suction the tube to prevent mucus from clogging it, and as I continued to speak, I could see him begin to relax.
While bathing him, I released each restraint and he cooperated completely. When I was leaving, I told him I probably wouldn’t be back, but the doctor had agreed to remove the restraint order as long as he made no attempt to pull out the tube. He nodded.
Several months later as I returned from lunch, I noticed a very tall, dapper looking gentleman waiting for the elevator. He looked a little familiar, and as he turned to me, he smiled and told me that I had cared for him.
He hugged and thanked me for helping him through a very scary time. It was a great reward and an affirmation that my chosen career was the right one for me.
Brenda Randolph, RN (retired), worked for 46 years in hospitals and home health settings. In 2015, she retired from Hillside Manor Home Health Care in Queens, New York, where she was the clinical nurse manager. Randolph still keeps her RN license current.
Why Am I a Nurse?
In 1994, I was an Army Medic at a desolate post in Northern California. We were in the middle of nowhere, and the nearest hospital was an hour away. Our post had a clinic with two medics on duty and a doctor on call. One night a civilian drove her husband, who was having chest pains, to our restricted post.
The gate sergeant had to get approval from the doctor to let them through the gates. A military police escort drove them to our clinic, we hooked him up to our 10 lead, and voila, we discovered that he was having an MI.
Doc made some calls and told us that the nearest hospital in Reno will take him, but there’s no transportation. “He will either make it or not. But you guys are it,” he told us.
We got permission to leave the post, woke up the crew to cover for us while we were out, and took off for Reno in the middle of the night with lights and sirens blaring.
We dropped them off at the hospital and headed back, unsure of what that man’s fate would be.
A month later, a woman arrived at our post and asked our captain to see us. She asked if we remembered her. “Sorry, no,” we said.
She replied, “No matter. You saved my life.”
We were perplexed because we hadn’t worked on a woman at all. “Maybe you have us confused,” we said. But she smiled and before I knew it, she was hugging me. And tearing up.
“My husband was having a heart attack and you took him to Reno in the middle of the night,” she said. “He’s my life. The last thing I have in the world. Without him I would be all alone.”
Her husband was a civilian at the time, but he had been in the military and like most of us, he retired near the base to work.
That memory has stuck with me for almost 30 years. It’s why I became a nurse. And I still love my job.
Jorge Ramirez, RN, works as a travel nurse for Aya Healthcare.
Made My Day
By Cecilia Garrabrant, RN
The sun was almost setting when I drove home from work. I was tired like most days, but even more so on this particular day – mostly because I had just received some bad news.
Despite being preoccupied, I decided to go to the grocery store to get milk and fruit anyway. As I got in line to pay for my groceries, I heard someone call my name. When I turned to look, two young ladies I did not recognize approached me.
“Sorry, but you work as a surgical nurse at the James Cancer Hospital, don’t you?” one of them said.
“How did you know?” I asked.
“We wanted to thank you,” she said. “You were our mom’s nurse when she had surgery last Monday. You told her that you had the same diagnosis as hers, had the same surgery that she was about to have, and you were doing fine. You even told her that you lost your hair to chemotherapy and were starting to grow it back a little — just like Mom. You said you would pray for her while she was your patient, as you always do for all your patients.”
“You made her smile!” they said in unison.
“Mom was always fun to be with until her cancer, and then she never smiled again until you talked with her, so thank you,” one daughter said.
I asked how she was doing, and they shared that their mom was still in the hospital but is allowed to eat ice cream. They were just about to buy it for her.
“Say hello for me,” I said.
“Can we please give you a thank-you hug?” they asked. I got the best double hug that day.
When I left the grocery store, I had a smile on my face. I was walking on cloud nine, even though I had just learned that I had metastasis in my liver and needed to undergo a new regimen of chemotherapy.
Accidentally meeting those two young ladies made my day brighter. I believed it was a sign that my future would be bright as well.
*Ten years later and after several procedures and rounds of chemo and radiation therapies, Garrabrant is doing well. She continues to be monitored by her healthcare team and is enjoying retirement with her husband.
Cecilia Garrabrant, RN (retired), worked as a certified operating room nurse at the James Cancer Hospital & Research Institute at Ohio State University Medical Center for more than 20 years. Now retired, Garrabrant still keeps her RN license current, is active in Ohio nursing organizations, and volunteers at The James Cancer Hospital.
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