When we discharge a patient who, according to their clinical condition, should have died, but instead is going home happy, healthy, and with a very grateful family. And when they come back to visit. That's why we do what we do.
It's always the little moments for me. When you can tell you've made a difference for someone. Certainly after a code or a hard fight to save someone. Or even a meaningful end of life case.
One that stands out was a baby I had for two straight weekends. He was super sick. On ECMO and CRRT. He was bleeding from everywhere and just looked miserable. We all thought he was going to die. I talked to him all night like I do all my pts, but he was intubated and paralyzed and sedated so not responsive to me at all. Anyway, a couple weeks passed and he recovered! I got to see him the day before he went to the floor. He was in a little hospital gown laying in the crib with no 02 or lines or anything! He looked at me, and gave me the biggest smile ever! I asked his mom if I could pick him up and when I did he laid his little head on my shoulder and just sort of melted into me. It was the sweetest thing. I 'know' he didn't have a clue who I was, but I felt like he recognized me and was like 'hey, thanks for taking care of me" It was priceless.