A tumor was found on my Father’s temporal bone and it grew into the temporalis muscle and intracranial dura (covering of the brain). He had surgery at UF health in which our family prayed endlessly that the tumor would not reach his brain and that the complicated and risky surgery would be free of complications including seizures or a stroke.
My Father was in the neuro ICU after surgery; it was scary to see my Father in a way we have never seen him before. My Dad has always been so tough and strong, a police officer for over 35 years, active, enjoys hiking, loves spin class, kayaking, etc. When I walked into the ICU room along with my Mom my Dad was very drowsy, had an oxygen mask on, and was trying to convey a message with his hands that no one could decipher.
Austin Groves, his nurse, was there at the bedside and being a nurse myself did not prepare me for the worry and concern I felt when I saw my Dad. Austin patiently explained this is normal, told us what was and was not expected, and comforted my Dad like he was his own Dad. My Dad has always had a keen sense of knowing if someone is a good person or not, so when my Dad kept patting and rubbing Austin on the shoulder along with the look in his eyes when he saw Austin and looked up at him let us know that not only was he saying Austin was a great person but that Austin was doing a phenomenal job. Austin’s attentiveness, knowledge, and compassion gave us comfort.
Austin was patient and really tried to understand what my Dad was trying to communicate. He allowed my Dad to spell out “l-o-n-g s-u-r-g-e-r-y” with his finger in the air, then told my Dad how long his surgery was. My Dad kept trying to ask one more question but none of us could figure it out, I asked if he was in pain - my Dad shook his head no, after a few minutes with Austin still there we realized my Dad was worried if they got the entire tumor out and he smiled his first smile after surgery when we told him, yes all of it was removed.
Later that day my Dad was able to talk and was joking with Austin and telling stories to him. We were excited to know that Austin would return the next day to be my Dad’s nurse again. He came in that morning and did a full assessment on my Dad, watched him closely, and when that was done he just stood there with my Dad which his presence alone did not go unnoticed. My Dad and Austin talked, laughed, joked, and Austin even remembered the things they had talked about from the day before. He made sure my Dad was not in pain, eating okay, he kept everything clean beyond measure to decrease infection from the room to the sheets to my Dad’s arterial line.
Throughout my Dad’s stay in the ICU, Austin gave exceptional care, care beyond what was expected or required. Austin truly has a genuine, kind, and compassionate spirit. He made this stressful time in our life so much better, but most importantly, he treated my Dad with the utmost respect, love, empathy, and kindness.