Monday, May 7, 2012

to our nurses

Last night I realized that it was National Nurse's Day and I really wanted to write a nice, eloquent post on our wonderful PICU nurses.. but it was late at night and after a day trip to Omaha with the kiddos, my cognitive ability was not quite up to the task...

So instead I wrote a message on Facebook to all the nurses I'm friends with, thanking them. But really... What do you even say to someone who served such an important role in your life? Seriously.. "Happy Nurse's Day! Thanks for saving my daughter's life" over a Facebook message just doesn't do it justice.

And yes- I actually did write that to one of our nurses...

I felt bad and couldn't sleep, thinking of all the wonderful things I would say in this post. And it sounded REALLY good.

Today I realized that it is National Nurse's Week.. all week! So I can still do a post. Unfortunately, all the eloquent and amazing things I thought of last night before falling asleep have escaped me, so this is all I've got..

Most people reading this know we spent more than our fair share of time in the hospital last year. Four days when Ella was born via emergency c-section, 2 1/2 weeks shortly after with RSV, and 5 weeks in the PICU with salmonella poisoning...

It was a rough year for us. (Understatement)

We spent many long days in the hospital (57 to be exact). Days that were boring-nothing to do but stare at your sick, precious little baby and try not to go insane, listening to those annoying, constantly-beeping monitors, dreaming of how immensely gratifying it would be to smash one to itty bitty pieces on the floor... Days that were exciting-when Ella made a small gain in progress (extubation celebration anyone?). We also had many dark days-days we didn't even know if our daughter was going to live to see the next.

Some days were filled with frustration, anger, boredom, fear, and loneliness.

Some days were filled with excitement, joy, pride, happiness.

But all of our days were filled with the most amazing people-our nurses. They were there for us 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, with whatever we needed. Whether it was a high dose of life saving medicine administered at just the right time for Ella or a Diet Coke for me-they did it and somehow acted like you were doing them a favor by asking.

Since the salmonella poisoning hospital stay was the most dramatic, we'll focus on that on..

Here's some history..

Ella had spent 1 week in the hospital with salmonella poisoning (We still have NO idea where she got that from). She was still not looking great, but drinking from her bottle decently so they decided we were good enough to go home.

Less than 24 hours later I was rushing her into my doctor's office because she looked, well.. awful. Her eyes were sunken, her face was ashen, she was super lethargic.. My doctor came in, took one look at her and said "Why did they let you go home???"

They did blood work and her levels were off the charts horrendous. I took Charlie out front to meet my parents, who thankfully happened to be in town at the time, while our Dr. took Ella back to the hospital part of the building. I found out later that no one had ever seen her running down the halls so fast, carrying an infant carseat with the most precious cargo.

When I finally came back, I found out that she was severely dehydrated and they needed to get an IV in NOW. Since her veins are smaller than average and she was so dehydrated, a typical IV, like one in her hand, was out of the question. One of the head guys from the hospital (not sure what his Title is, but he was important) decided to do an Intraosseous Infusion (IO). Basically, he tried to stick a metal straw into her leg bone to get fluids immediately in through the marrow. I watched him do it. It didn't work.

Enter our amazing flight nurse, Maggie.

The life flight helicopter had finally arrived, carrying our super heroes dressed in scrubs. (ok-actually she had a flight jump suit thing on)

Maggie rushed in, knew she had to get the IV in her leg asap, used some kind of drill, (I left the room for that one) and immediately got the IV in her leg bone.

I didn't understand it at the time, but we were definitely in a life and death situation. I am absolutely positive that if she wouldn't have gotten that IO in her leg, Ella wouldn't have made it to Sioux Falls and wouldn't be here today. She saved my daughter's life that day.

And the crazy thing? She was calm, cool, and collected the entire time, making me wonder what I was even worried about in the first place..

We flew back to Sioux Falls and upon arrival was greeted by doctors and nurses I was already familiar with, thanks to our time spent there when Ella had RSV. What a blessing in disguise! I couldn't have been in a better place.

When we got to Ella's room, it seemed like there were nurses everywhere. They were hooking up IV's, administering different medications and fluids, basically saving my daughter's life all over again.

I like to think that I am a fairly intelligent person, but listening to their medical jargon with the doctors made me feel like I was in a foreign country. It was mind blowing to me to watch them switching out IVs, hooking up pumps all the while listening to everything the doctor was telling them, and remembering exactly what they were told-exactly how many cc's or mL of different drugs they were to give and at what times..

I used to waitress and if someone told me they wanted a Diet Coke and I didn't write it down, I would honestly walk back to the bar and ask for a 7-Up.

To see them in action was impressive, to say the least.

But their skills did not end there.

There were also nurses in that room who were standing by my side, arms around my shoulders, asking if I was ok, if I needed anything. Not only were our nurses saving my daughter, but they were compassionately taking care of me as well.

From what I hear nurses tend to be overworked, under-payed, and under-appreciated.

It would be so easy for them to fulfill their job duties and check out emotionally.. To do the things required of them, administering meds, switching tubes, watching the monitor outside our room, focusing only on the medical side of the situation.

But they didn't.

It would be easy to get burnt out after working long 12 hour shifts, many caring for families of their own before and after getting home.

But they didn't.

These nurses went way above and beyond the call of duty.

Nurses who weren't assigned to us came in to check on "Ella Bella".

They called in to work on their days off just to see how we were doing, telling the nurses who were there to give me a hug from them.

They found hair bows to put in Ella's hair and painted her toes while we were sleeping.

They were compassionate, coming to comfort me when we were delivered bad news.

They were honest, making sure we knew exactly what was going on (translating that foreign language for us..)

They were caring, asking about my family and getting to know them when they visited.

They were our advocates, challenging the doctors when they didn't agree with something they were doing and making sure we were able to talk to someone about our concerns.

They were loving. If I would HAVE to leave Ella's room to do something crazy, like *gasp* shower, or get something to eat, I would always tell our nurse, just so she could be sure to keep an even closer eye or ear out for Ella, knowing that I wouldn't be there to pick her up if she heard her crying. I would usually only be gone a few minutes, but almost every time I would come back in to see at least 3 nurses gathered around her crib either watching her sleep, or saying she "woke up" and they HAD to pick her up and hold her.

I cannot say it enough that I am SO thankful for our nurses.

They are seriously amazing.

To Maggie, Anna, Abby, Meggan, Amber, Sarah, Tammy, Darla, Marti, and everyone else whose names I can't remember but surely hold a dear place in my heart:

Thank you for making me and my family feel as much "at home" as we could.
Thank you for giving our Ella Bella the very best care.
Thank you for celebrating the 'small' joys with us.
Thank you for going above and beyond.
Thank you for giving Ella many more 'tomorrows' to share with us.

Thank you for absolutely everything you do each and every single day.

You are ridiculously appreciated in this house and I miss you all (But I really don't want to see you again-at least in those circumstances..) :)

and THANK YOU most of all from Ella!! 


  1. Oh Maria, I have to say I teared up a little reading this. I can't imagine all the hurt you went through being in the hospital so much but I am so thankful you had wonderful nurses there to make it a little easier.