Mr. G and Baby B: Unforgettable Patients

  1. 13

    Some patients touch our lives deeply, changing something deep in us. Read about two patients who touched this nurses life in amazing ways.

    Mr. G and Baby B: Unforgettable Patients

    Patients can change the trajectory of our careers and lives. The power of human relationships is undeniable. As a nurse, we go to work with the intent of helping and blessing others with our gifts, but oftentimes, we are the ones who walk out of the building blessed. In almost 20 years of nursing I have encountered a few patients who have touched my life deeply. One patient, Mr. G, a man who was at the end of his journey and, Baby B, a neonate who was short on life and big on lessons.

    I met Mr. G as a brand new graduate. He came to my unit every few months to receive his chemotherapy. He was in his 50's with grown children and a wife who was just as delightful as he was. The first time I met him, something clicked between us, a natural bond was created. Over the course of the next year, anytime he came to the unit it was known he would request me as his nurse.

    I would take breaks in his room so that we could talk about life in general. Sometimes it was jokes and lighthearted conversations and other times, we shared tears. He taught me that life was fragile and to live each day to the fullest. I remember one day coming in at 7am and as soon as I hit the floor, he requested me. He was not a fan of the night nurse and wanted to tell me all about an incident that occurred. As I listened to him talk, I knew there was more to this request to see me than just a disagreement with the night nurse. As he spoke, he started to cry and then confided in me that he was not responding to the chemotherapy as he had in the past. He was told they had no other treatment options for him. I remember sitting next to him, holding his hand when I realized that he was not just a patient, but a friend.

    During my career, I have remembered Mr. G many times. When I was uncertain about my path or questioning my career choice, I remembered him and his wisdom. When I had a bad day and didn't think I could go back to work in the morning, I thought of Mr G. He gave me a reason to keep moving many days.

    Baby B came into my life at the beginning of his short journey on earth. He was a twin and was blind, deaf, lacked the drive to breath and had physical deformities. The doctors knew in utero that there was a twin to twin transfusion in which his sister received more of the nutrients, affecting his size and development. She was a healthy, normal baby. Baby B came to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit on his birthday, which also happened to be mine. He was accompanied by his dad, who came to trust me like part of the family during the 38 days of Baby B's life.

    I took care of him almost every shift I worked. He never looked at me or smiled for me to know that I was familiar to him. But, in the middle of the night when I had "cuddle time" with him, he would nestle up against me with a familiarity that was undeniable. His parents always said it brought them peace knowing that I was there with him at night for "cuddle time", as well as the nursing care.

    His parents went through hell and back during his 38 days of life as they had to defend their decision to withdraw life sustaining measures. I will never forget sitting in a care team meeting when one physician told his parents that he could live for several years with a tracheostomy and feeding tube. His mom, with tears in her eyes, asked what kind of life that would be if he never knew he was here or enjoyed life. They envisioned a boy who would run, play in mud puddles and swing a bat. Ultimately, the parents' wishes were honored and Baby B peacefully left this world.

    This baby taught me endless lessons that I have revisited time and again during my career. He taught me to never judge a book by it's cover. He was not a "normal" looking baby, but he was valuable and brought a tremendous amount of good to this world. He taught me to really listen to family members when they spoke. Not listen to respond, but to listen to understand what they are saying and feeling. And, most importantly, he taught me the value of life, no matter how long or short it may be.

    Some patients come into your life for a short period of time, but leave a permanent print on your heart. They teach you lessons far greater than those in any textbook or lecture hall. You learn more about yourself and the world in general from the interaction with these patients than you could have ever imagined possible. Have you had experiences of unforgettable patients? How did you meet them? What did they teach you? Were you able to let them know what they meant to you? I would love to hear your stories of unforgettable patients.
    Last edit by tnbutterfly on Nov 10
    Do you like this Article? Click Like?

  2. Visit melissa.mills1117 profile page

    About melissa.mills1117

    Melissa Mills is a nurse who is on a journey of exploration and entrepreneurship. She is a healthcare writer who specializes in case management and leadership. When she is not in front of a computer, Melissa is busy with her husband, 3 kids, 2 dogs and a fat cat named Little Dude.

    Joined Feb '17; Posts: 18; Likes: 50.

    Read My Articles

    6 Comments

  3. by   jennylee321
    Thanks for sharing these stories Melissa, I think often of those families and babies that changed me as a nurse and how I practice. It is so true that those babies who are only with us for a short time can teach us so much. Especially how to be better at listening to families and advocating for our patients.
  4. by   TangoDeux
    I would also add that it is not only patients but teachers that have put us on path to a career in nursing. I have one special teacher that did just that and she is in many ways why I am on the path I am now which has diverged so much from where I thought I would end up as a career. Like you mentioned, these are the people that change the trajectory of our lives and by learning from them, enrich our lives further. We hope that we in turn can help and guide someone else so that the virtuous circle continues. Thank you for sharing your story. I haven't started to see patients yet as I am just at the beginning of my nursing education but I can speak about the teachers and friends that have guided me to nursing and the many lessons that i have learned from them.
  5. by   gpsrn
    Hi Melissa,
    Thank you for sharing about your patients. Every patient we care for has an impact on us as nurses or as fellow human beings. These experiences go with us to improve care to other clients. When patients die, it is difficult, no matter how long you have cared for them or how much time you have with them. Yet those we care for on a continuous basis do have a bigger spot in our heart. I have had a very similar experience with a patient similar to Mr. G. who was discharged and came for outpatient chemotherapy. He would come up to the unit each time he was at the hospital to see if I was working. My manager always told me when I was not there, that he asked for me. It is such a joy that our care and compassion does affect others on a long-term basis.
    Thank you for sharing your story.
  6. by   melissa.mills1117
    Quote from jennylee321
    Thanks for sharing these stories Melissa, I think often of those families and babies that changed me as a nurse and how I practice. It is so true that those babies who are only with us for a short time can teach us so much. Especially how to be better at listening to families and advocating for our patients.
    Thanks for the comment jennyless321!Yes, these babies can change so much about who we are and teach us so very much!
  7. by   melissa.mills1117
    Quote from gpsrn
    Hi Melissa,
    Thank you for sharing about your patients. Every patient we care for has an impact on us as nurses or as fellow human beings. These experiences go with us to improve care to other clients. When patients die, it is difficult, no matter how long you have cared for them or how much time you have with them. Yet those we care for on a continuous basis do have a bigger spot in our heart. I have had a very similar experience with a patient similar to Mr. G. who was discharged and came for outpatient chemotherapy. He would come up to the unit each time he was at the hospital to see if I was working. My manager always told me when I was not there, that he asked for me. It is such a joy that our care and compassion does affect others on a long-term basis.
    Thank you for sharing your story.
    Thanks gpsrn,BSN,MSN for the comment! Yes, and even 20 years later, they are still just as important!

    Melissa
  8. by   melissa.mills1117
    Quote from TangoDeux
    I would also add that it is not only patients but teachers that have put us on path to a career in nursing. I have one special teacher that did just that and she is in many ways why I am on the path I am now which has diverged so much from where I thought I would end up as a career. Like you mentioned, these are the people that change the trajectory of our lives and by learning from them, enrich our lives further. We hope that we in turn can help and guide someone else so that the virtuous circle continues. Thank you for sharing your story. I haven't started to see patients yet as I am just at the beginning of my nursing education but I can speak about the teachers and friends that have guided me to nursing and the many lessons that i have learned from them.
    Hey, TangoDeux! Thanks so very much for your comment. Yes, you are exactly correct that there are so much people that mold us as nurses. Teachers are some of the very first people who touch our lives and make us the caregivers we are! Best of luck to you on your journey! ~Melissa

close