As a nurse, we know good nursing when we see it. We see the caring and compassion in the eyes of those at our loved one's bedside. We witness the gentle touch, replacement of a stray hair, the look of compassion as they reposition our loved one. As a nurse in the family role, we know all too well the corners that can be cut, save time and steps. As a nurse, we know the demands of the position, the high acuity that our other patients have and the demands of families just across the hall. As a nurse, we know that we burn out, check out and care less at times, but none of that was evident on the Cardio-Vascular ICU for the 5 days I sat at my Grandmother’s bedside.
For three agonizing days, I had to remain in Maryland while my Grandmother went from a fully functional, independent feisty woman to being on a ventilator, requiring total care and unable to express her concerns. As the medical team did their magic, it was the magic of the bedside nurses that truly stood out to my family. I would text or call with questions, concerns and wanting updates and as the only medically trained professional in the family, I wanted hardcore facts, BUN/Creatinine, WBC, Urine cultures, PT/INR/PTT, Vent Settings, medications and plan of care. While all of these topics were foreign to my family at Grandma’s bedside, Marty made sure that I got the information I needed and then shared the trends with my family. Painstakingly, she explained what I was wanting to know and why. She advocated for Grandma when she had no voice, she pushed residents and doctors alike to remember that this was more than just a case, this was someone’s Mother, Grandmother, Sister, Aunt, Cousin, Great Grandmother and even Great, Great Grandmother. She gave a voice to the voiceless 92-year-old woman whose hands showed a life of hard work and caring.
It was more than Marty’s nursing knowledge that made her stand out. It was the way she carried herself, sure of her knowledge and willing to share what she knew with those who needed to know. She explained things to my family in a manner that was easy to understand without being degrading and demeaning. She guided the family through decisions and supported them in whatever they decided. She ensured that Grandma was not in pain, attended to her needs to be repositioned and made the family feel as though she were her only patient.
I had the pleasure of meeting Marty upon my arrival to the unit on Sunday evening. I noted that it was almost 8 pm, well past her shift. She came up to me and offered her hand. Pulling her into a big bear hug, I thanked her for the care and compassion that she showed my family and more importantly, my Grandmother. Grandma and I were always close, and although I know she told all of us we were her favorites, she made each of us feel as though it were true. Marty embodied that same theory in her bedside nursing. As a family, we felt that we were her favorites and she put Grandma and her needs above all else. She advocated with the physicians and residents, answered family questions and explained step by step what was occurring and what to expect next. I was able to breathe easier knowing that Grandma was receiving not just top-notch medical care, but more importantly, top notch nursing care.