Katie Dewar

Katie Dewar

Katie Dewar, RN

3E CCS
Sanford Medical Center - Fargo
Fargo, North Dakota
United States

On June 11th our 25 year old son D had a dirt bike accident resulting in 2 fractures to the base of his skull, a traumatic brain injury, and a blood clot in one of the veins that carried blood away from his brain. This resulted in a 2 month stay in the hospital, mostly in the ICU. He endured brain bleeding and swelling, excess cerebral spinal fluid, 2 ventricle drains, meningitis, and placement of a permanent shunt. We are blessed to be able to say that, other than glasses to correct double vision (which is getting better) he has made a full recovery and is back to his job, full-time as a manufacturing engineer. As his parents, we were horrified to hear of the extent of his injuries and to hear that he might not survive this accident, it was something we never imagined we would have to face. As can be imagined our family of 6 went through many ups and downs during those 2 months as more than once his survival was in question. We first met Katie on the evening of June 12th as she was assigned to D for the night shift. She impressed us with her thoroughness and professionalism as well as her concern for D and our entire family. She was scheduled to work 3 nights that week but ended up volunteering to work 5 more and was assigned to D each night. It will be difficult to put on paper the impact that Katie had on D's healing and the comfort and confidence she provided to him and our family. While we were inclined to stay in D's room with him she insisted that we were going to be at this for a long time and that we needed our rest. She suggested we stay at the Skandia but we spent every night in the family room (outside the ICU). She assured us she would come and find us if needed and several times she did. She was right, we did need to rest and since we trusted her so much we were able to rest knowing he was well taken care of. Katie was able to be compassionate and caring while guiding D through many parts of his healing that were unpleasant. She was always encouraging him and us to do the things that were necessary for him to get better. She minimized his stimulation by limiting visitors, limiting the use of his cell phone (that wasn't always easy), and trying to keep the activity in his room to a minimum. When his pain was severe and he wasn't due for more pain meds she would try to distract him with conversation, a neck massage (his neck brace was extremely uncomfortable for him), or repositioning. When he was restricted from liquids she did not give in to his frequent requests for liquid but offered swabs and ice chips and encouragement as she kept him on schedule for his prescribed intake. When he was allowed to start working on his mobility she was assertive in frequently sitting him up in bed, then, when he was able, walking him around the ICU. All eyes were on them as she walked him through the hall and out to the family room on his brother's birthday. In addition to her ability to move D toward what he needed and not necessarily what he wanted Katie used compassion and humor to improve Dan's time in the ICU. For his birthday she decorated his room with birthday decorations and put family and friend's pictures on his bathroom door where he could see them from his bed. Katie took D to several CT scans. She referred to them as "road trips." On one morning she was going over what the day would bring and she said "no scans today, so no road trips," and then with a smile, "unless we go someplace fun!" Each evening Katie would ask us to leave while she got D ready for the night. When she called us back to say good night D and his bed were impeccable. He was always clean, shaven, and his hair groomed. The bandaging on his ventricle drain was difficult to apply and would often come loose. Each time Katie did it they were neat and stayed tightly in place. Katie impacted our family. Each morning as her shift was ending she would find us and give us an update on his night. This was a great comfort to us. Her insistence on us getting our rest along with the knowledge we would be updated in the morning truly gave us peace of mind and supported the rest we needed. We were also encouraged and comforted by her humor and compassion. D had left the ICU and was due to be discharged to therapy around July 7th however on July 4th he went into a seizure and was emergently returned to the ICU where a lumbar puncture was performed. In addition to relieving cranial pressure it also revealed D had developed meningitis. When Katie knew D was back in the ICU she thought maybe he should be assigned to somebody else since she had been his nurse for so many nights it might be hard for her to be objective. She later told us that after taking one look at the other nurse's face (very distraught after the seizure and rush back to the ICU) she thought it best that she be assigned to D again. At the end of D's hospital stay Katie had been his nurse for 25 nights. I asked her if she had ever had the same patient for that many nights before and she said no, the most was 7. We know she was very concerned for D and felt compelled to be there as often as she could. We know she sacrificed her own rest as well as time with her family to care for our son. We could go on further but suffice it to say that as horrible as it is to go through an experience like this we have also been enriched. Facing the possible loss of a loved one forced us into a completely new and better outlook on life. We were also enriched by the compassion, care and expertise of the doctors, nurses and volunteers we got to know during D's stay. And, how can you not be changed by someone who gives so much of themselves to you? Katie was so much of what we all needed to endure Dan's injury and hospital stay. Her impact was angelic and is a large part of the reason we can say that in the end this experience made our lives better. We are grateful to have been touched by Katie Dewar and heartily recommend her for the DAISY Award.