A couple of nights ago, I took care of a woman who recently learned she has metastatic cancer. She has roughly six months to live. When the clock hit midnight, it was her birthday- almost certainly her last birthday.
During the few minutes I had free, I made a huge happy birthday banner and had another nurse help me to hang it in the patient's room while she was sleeping. I also made that patient a handwritten birthday card.
I found out from my friend on day shift that later that day, the staff bought her a birthday cake and sang to her.
Recently, an older woman was hospitalized on our unit and was going to miss her daughter's wedding. Obviously, the poor woman was distraught. So a nurse friend of mine commissioned everyone on the unit to make flowers out of flattened paper med cups, color them, and decorate the patient's room with them. This same nurse also arranged for the whole wedding party (dresses, tuxes, bouquets, and all!) to come to the hospital to see the patient and celebrate with her.
Last Halloween, one of my patients was a nine year old girl with a ruptured appy. (We virtually NEVER get peds on our floor.) I instructed her mom to bring in her costume, dress her in it, and do her full makeup. My boyfriend, on my instruction, bought candy, drawing paper, markers, little toys, stickers, and all kinds of cool stuff. When I got to work, I ran around giving everyone handfuls of stuff; even some of the patients wanted to participate.
A nurse or aide or secretary or doctor was stationed at every room on the unit, and then my patient went trick-or-treating (pushed in a wheelchair, with a pillowcase for a goody bag). Everyone was grinning, especially the bedbound patients who had a chance to hand out treats to the little girl.
Of course we're too busy to do things like this, but we do it anyway. Because what is more rewarding for a patient than to receive a genuine gift of caring? These are the moments that make our job worthwhile.
I love hearing these stories, you've obviously gotten your calling! And you're so creative! These are such great ideas, keep up the great work, imagine what the little girl will tell her grandkids when she get older, its wonderful!