Sometimes, a special patient touches your heart. You never know when you'll meet that special patient or even why he affects you so deeply, but these are the people that make you glad you chose to be a nurse.
Danny was a middle-aged gentleman with multiple health problems that hit him all at once. He found himself suddently disabled and afraid. He was admitted several times to our unit with heart failure; he had terrible ascites and needed his belly tapped at least once a week. His condition gradually deteriorated. He was my patient several times.
One night, our ICU/tele unit was very busy. I had 4 tele patients of my own and I was in charge. I got a call from the OR telling us they hadn't been able to get Danny off the vent after surgery to place a drain in his abdomen, so I needed to find an ICU bed. All the nurses were busy; there was nowhere to put him, so I decided I'd take him myself even though I already had a full assignment.
When Danny started to wake up from the anaesthesia, he was terrified to find himself on the vent. I held his hand and told him who I was. He recognized me at once. I explained that he was okay, he just had to stay on the vent for a little longer, but I would be right there to watch over him and protect him and I wouldn't let anything bad happen to him. He calmed down right away; he even smiled. I gave him enough sedation and pain meds to keep him comfortable. Throughout the night, I checked on him often to hold his hand and reassure him.
He was still intubated when I left in the morning. Before I left, I told him that if he could stay calm, they'd be able to get him off the vent very soon.
When I came back that evening, Danny was extubated, sitting up in a chair, and eating dinner. He gave me a big hug and told me I'd saved his life. He also said he'd had a bizarre dream while he was on the vent: he and I had gotten married, and our best man was a machine- presumably the ventilator. I laughed and asked if our maid of honor was the IV pole.
Danny was able to go home a few days later. A few days after that, a bouquet of flowers arrived for me- the biggest bouquet I've ever seen! Included was a card from Danny thanking me and telling me how much my care had meant to him. Of course, I'll keep that card to my dying day.
Danny died a few weeks later, at home, where he wanted to be. I cried when I heard he'd passed away, but I knew he was ready to go. I still think of Danny and how fortunate I am to have known him.