All I Want for Christmas Are Boobs

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The story of an impactful patient experience on Christmas Eve

Specializes in Anesthesia. Has 15 years experience.

Memorable Patient Experience on Christmas Eve

All I Want for Christmas Are Boobs

My hopes of getting our early on Christmas Eve steadily declined over the course of the day. One thing after another had pushed back the cases all day and now the surgeon doing my last case was living up to her reputation of being notoriously late. I became increasingly irritated not only for myself, but for my patient, “Elise.” The final stage of her breast reconstruction after a bilateral mastectomy for breast cancer had already been delayed multiple times due to infections and other complications. I anticipated her being angry over yet another delay and mentally prepared myself for a tirade as I approached her stretcher. To my surprise, I found a beaming 32-year-old trying to keep the oversized patient gown over her slender shoulders as she enthusiastically answered all my questions. There was nothing angry or bitter about her. While we waited for the surgeon to arrive, I asked her if she had any plans for the holidays. 

“Well, I was supposed to be in Costa Rica with my fiancé, but he dumped me as soon as I got my breast cancer diagnosis. So I’ll just be recovering at home with my parents. I had to move back in with them when he broke up with me. He kicked me out even though we own the house together. I’m a lawyer, well was a lawyer. I had to leave my firm once I started chemo. I just couldn’t keep up with the hours and the demand. Anyway, I just haven’t had it in me to try to take him to court over it.” 

“I’m so sorry Elise!” I sat down next to her, trying to think of what to say to comfort her. 

“Don’t be! Better to find out now than after I married that loser and we scrambled our DNA!” She said waving her hand as if to swipe away any negativity lingering in the air. “I am just so happy to finally be getting my boobies! It’s like the greatest Christmas present ever!” She laughed as she grabbed her chest. “I cannot wait to be rid of these freaking Tupperware lids.” she said referring to the plastic tissue expanders that were going to be taken out and replaced with soft silicone implants. 

I was stunned. She had lost her fiancé, her job, her home, and her health and yet here she was, bubbling over with joy, grateful to be alive and on the road to recovery. 

“Is there any music you’d like to listen to as you drift off to sleep?” I asked her, as I do many of my patients. 

“Wow, that’s so cool you offer that!” She thought for a moment before responding, “I want Sia’s ‘Unstoppable!’” 

“You got it sister!” I pulled out my phone and opened Youtube to search for the song as the surgeon arrived in a flurry, apologizing for being late. After she marked Elise and answered all her questions, Mary, the circulating nurse, approached her stretcher to let us know we could proceed to the OR. 

I pushed 2mg Versed through her IV tubing, unlocked the stretcher, and started the song. Maybe it was the Versed or maybe it was just her larger-than-life personality, but Elise started singing at the top of her lungs and waving her arms as we rolled down the hallway. I watched smiles spread across other patients’ faces as they saw her singing and dancing her way into the OR. A few of them even clapped and cheered for her as she rolled by. With tears streamed down my cheeks, Mary and I started singing along with her. We opened the doors to her operating room and the surgeon and other staff in the room all burst out laughing at our offkey ensemble. And then they started singing too. We all serenaded this unstoppable woman off to sleep and into a better chapter of life. I was so humbled by her strength and resilience and ability to find such joy in even the most devastating of circumstances. All of the little tasks and last-minute holiday errands on my to-do list suddenly felt incredibly unimportant. I went home that evening filled with so much gratitude for my health and my loving family and the time we would spend together over the holiday. 

As nurses we often see people on one of the worst days of their lives and help them navigate it with our wisdom, compassion, and expertise. We also get the honor of seeing our patients overcome unbelievable hardships and go on to thrive. I have never forgotten Elise and her ability to shine so brightly in the face of so much darkness. Even now, years later, I often play “Unstoppable” when I’m having a rough day and hope with all my heart that she is living an amazing life now, filled with people who adore her for the truly remarkable woman she is.  

 

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4 Comment(s)

Hoosier_RN, MSN

Specializes in dialysis. Has 29 years experience. 3,311 Posts

I love this story! As a receiver of boobs, I totally get it!

JBMmom, MSN, NP

Specializes in Long term care; med-surg; critical care. Has 10 years experience. 4 Articles; 1,941 Posts

Fantastic story, thank you for sharing!!

Bella ' s mimi

16 Posts

Thank you so much for sharing the this.

emergenceRN17, ASN, BSN, RN

Specializes in Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery. Has 4 years experience. 795 Posts

Awesome story.  Thank you for sharing!!