To the Nurses Who Saved Patrick

nurse leadership story


Patrick is 42 yrs. old with 2 young children, now engaged to his love, Wendy, and gets to love her 2 kiddos too. A year ago, his health crashed and his organs shut down in a matter of hours. With liver and kidney transplants, he is a miracle made manifest. 

Below is a bit of his story....

"I’ve really tried to think of some, mine are more brief and spotty than Wendy’s. I can tell you a million stories about being in there. It was an entire fantasy world I lived in. Many rooted in some reality, but warped like very long dreams. There are a few, but I’m not sure they help.

There were many nurses over my time there that I had moments with that seemed to mean a lot to them. Some cried when I left and acted like I was their kid, with stern warnings about taking care of myself when I got out. They clearly had interactions with me that meant something to them, and to me in the moment, but that I quickly forgot with so much happening in my body. Several of them walk up to me when I go back and say how good I look or whatever, but I just go along with it.

The Drs especially, they know all about me, but i couldn’t remember any of them really. Wendy does more than I do. They care so much. Everyone there cared so deeply about my survival and the success of the transplant that i can’t fathom how they do it everyday. Its insane.

There were a couple nurses when I was first there that would talk to me anytime they could because i was lonely. There was one nurse in particular that always made me laugh. She called me honey, made jokes, was loud and generally treated me like i was normal and not probably going to die.

Post surgery is a little clearer. I remember going in for surgery and noticing how many people were in there. It felt like 20 people all focused and going through checklists and responsibilities. At first I felt kind of like an after thought, but then there was a smaller group of 3. A nurse maybe a little older than me looked me in the eye and assured me she was going to take care of me. She introduced me to 2 younger nurses, a guy and girl. I got laid down and they were hooking up this and that. Commotion all around, but the main job of those 3 was to just chat with me and keep me comfortable and calm. We had a couple laughs. They made eye contact. They were calm so i was calm. I will never forget that.

Literally my next memory was waking up. I remember trying to speak. I thought i still had another surgery to go, but they explained I was done. I remember Wendy and how happy I was. Probably helped by the drugs, but i was ready to propose on the spot. I remember there was a calm male nurse who seemed to be helping everyone. I have this memory like he had a smile and kept things light. I believe it was him that got the sharpie and paper for me to communicate. When I woke up next I was in ICU. I believe the nurse was Steve, but who knows. It turned out he was the sharpie guy. He filled in some holes of what went on in the recovery room. He was really good at his job. He was great at keeping me comfortable. Anything painful he accomplished smoothly and he was always cheerful. He rotated out and informed me the next nurse was the best. She lived up to the hype. Even the way she changed out sheets, changed my etc, was so smooth. She was ex military and it showed. Everything was exact. I had a Dr come remove a port from my clavicle area. I was covered by a sheet so I was blind to it. He had a lot of trouble getting it out. He just kept apologizing. He said it was really stuck in there. The position we were in, when his instrument would slip as he pushed, he’d basically punch me in the face. It was awful, but this very professional nurse was on the other side of me. She gripped my hand tight and adjusted the sheet so i could see her face. She got me through it.

There were several of the dialysis nurses that were really cool. We’d spend 5 hours together 3 days a week. Their job is sooooo hard. The amount of people going through there is crazy. There is some profitability component that I didn’t understand. The nurses appeared to be under a lot of pressure from a lady in a pant suit that dropped in periodically. Lol. We were crammed into a room, sometimes you were hooked up in the middle of a walkway. So crowded.

Then there were showers. Soooo hard to get. I begged. I could tell so many stories of being promised a shower in the morning, then having the morning crew offer a “bath” meaning baby wipes basically. I had a couple night shift nurses that snuck me into the maturing shower at like midnight if they had time. Another nurse when I was more mobile, let me sit in my rooms shower and run water over my legs. I got transferred to Waterloo mercy one therapy center for 24hours. A lady I knew was some sort of authority person there. I got there and said I NEEDED a bath with actual water. She told me that there was a jet tub that never got used in the center. Most of the nurses didn’t even know it was there. Later that evening she came and told me she had a surprise. Her and another lady took me to the jet tub. They had paperwork or whatever to finish out their day so they worked as they let me soak while listening to my podcasts. It was heaven!!! They let me sit in there for a while, taking my vitals periodically of course. The next day, I was informed the had a possible donor and I was back off to IC.

When I was recovering I was moved to the transplant area. There were younger nurses there at night. My kidney started working overtime and I was filling up urinals at record pace. They were always there, no matter the time. I'd have accidents and they acted like it was nothing cleaning me up. There was this huge kid, man I guess, but early 20’s. His hands were enormous. I called him bear. My feet were super sore and swollen at first. My feet were like memory foam. Every night he’d squeeze from my toes to my knees like emptying out a toothpaste tube. It felt so good to have the pressure taken off even temporarily. He was cool.

I had these drainage tubes after surgery. Towards the end they removed 1 per day. A young doctor in training was responsible for taking them out. I could tell he hadn’t done it before. The first one was one heck of an experience but by the 4th one I didn’t even notice the long tube snaking its way around my organs on the way out. The doctors were great too. Very professional and prepared me extremely well for how my healing would go. The transplant team takes over after I'm home. Shae is my coordinator. She is kind of like a sister. She’s there for me whenever. They think of everything and make things as simple as possible from meds, to insurance and recovery. I am truly blessed. They saved my life and made me feel special.

Then they come back the next day and do it for someone else." ❤ 

On behalf of myself, all of Patrick's cousins, and family, THANK YOU.