Christine Duerksen

Christine Duerksen

Christine Duerksen, RN

Central Resource Pool
Sanford USD Medical Center
Sioux Falls, South Dakota
United States
I want you to know that you worked magic.

A Thank You note to Christine from her patient's wife:

...I want you to know that you worked magic. I spend a lot of time in the company of young humans and I actually used to think I had a busy job. You, my dear, are the definition of busy in Webster's Complete. You were in and out of those ER and hospital rooms so many times, I wish I had counted, so I had a number to write.

You appeared out of nowhere. Well, actually, you said you came down from upstairs to help because the Emergency Room was so busy. Our third trip to the ER in thirteen days, I was beginning to know my way around but it seemed like out of nowhere to me.

Yes. We were in on the 8th and the 17th. Same thing, I'm afraid.

“Sorry. Little poke here.” words spoken repeatedly to a sleeping man who barely flinched. I wondered if you were really talking to me. I saw the frustration in your face when you couldn't get any vein, you tried to produce blood despite the use of the 'magic butterfly'.  After several attempts you gave up and told me you were going to get your friend to try because, even though you were the one they usually came to get for difficult draws, you were having no luck.

A few minutes later you were back with a man in a flight suit who I assumed worked on or perhaps even piloted the helicopter. He succeeded, but it took him a couple of tries. Blood like toothpaste, I heard him mutter under his breath. I don't think he meant 'minty fresh'.

And then you, somehow, got him to wake up. Almost 10 PM. He chatted with his sister and me as casually, as if we were having tea on the veranda. Then he looked really sleepy again and stated, matter-of-factly, “Thirteen cents an acre is not enough. They made all my crops into jam” and he was out again. G and I sort of chuckled it off... always farming. Phew. Yes, it's scary...Moving him up to a room...Yes...Go on home... I'll be fine, really…Thank you and thank the others for coming... I'll let you know.

CT scan. MRI. Still not waking up? Moving him to a room. Still out? Take care.

And then you were in the room, too. ER slowed down so you followed us because you were familiar. Good. So I don't have to explain it all again to a new nurse. Nice. I'm tired. Sure, I'd love a Diet Coke. I'll just watch him sleep for a while. No. I'm going to stay. A blanket would be great.

It's midnight. Wake up, D. Can you say your name? Wake up, D. Pupils dilated and fixed. No response to pain stimuli. BP low. Pulse 50. Wake up, D.

Almost 3 in the morning. Doctor Iceberg (not really) walks in. CT scan... no active bleed... MRI... Stroke bi-lateral in the thalemus...Very rare... No intervention...nothing we can do... coma...very real possibility... may never regain consciousness...no heroic measures... DNR order?.. would he want to live like this?.. nursing home... social worker... I'm sorry.

On my knees at the side of that bed I prayed as I have never prayed before. Wake up, D.  And I cried, oh how I cried, like a child lost in a crowd, but there were just him and me.  And you. Wake up, D.  You were in and out and trying. Wake up, D. And a box of tissues appeared at my head. Wake up, D.  And a short while later, a pillow for my knees. Wake up, D.  And a warm blanket is wrapped around me. Wake up, D.

I curl up in this chair thing by the side of the bed and I just kept on. And you said you had to go. Tell me he's going to wake up, I all but begged you. “Oh, come here.”  And you wrapped me in a tight hug, “I can't”.  And you were gone.

At 6 AM, just like a rooster crowed somewhere, his eyes popped open, he said my name. The relief was overwhelming and instant and I can't remember ever being so thankful. And just as fast, but only lasting for a moment, I was so mad at him for scaring me I wanted to beat him. Lucky for him, the thankfulness and joy quickly returned. I am elated to report he has been getting better, day by day, ever since. 

All of the nurses were amazing and wonderful but you were above and beyond. You were nine hours of consistency at a time when it felt as if nothing would ever be the same. You were magic and I thank you from the bottom of my heart.

It's hard to find words to describe what has happened as so much has come into play, I'll close the gate with an ambivalent future, sincerely grateful for every single day.  Thank you Christine Duerksen, for your great compassion.