How about stories about patients that have pulled through and lived decent lives despite all evidence to the contrary?
The one that amazed me was a couple of years ago when I started out in CVICU. This gentleman had a quad-bypass and developed a sternal infection. He ended up having a sternectomy and an open chest for a couple of weeks before I took care of him. By the time he was given to me, we were packing his chest BID, he was on Levophed to keep his pressure up and dopamine for what minimal renal function he had left. He also had TPN, and dialysis at least once a day. He was so jaundiced that it was coming off on the sheets. Naturally he was vented with no hope of being weaned.
The night I was taking care of him, I had just finished packing his chest. I turned his propofol drip down just enough to see if he was still "in there". I turned it back up again, and as he was going back under, he coughed. Hard.
I was standing at the head of the bed. I looked down and saw a trickle of blood by his PA catheter. He had a coagulation problem and I thought he was oozing around the PA. Then I looked at his chest.
As I watched, a small red spot on the dressing grew incredibly fast and started spurting out the sides!! I yelled for help and immediately more experienced nurses were in the room. We started pouring in fluids and blood while we called the surgeon and the OR.
Fortunately, we had him on the table within twenty minutes and he was back in my care a hour later. He stayed in our unit for another week before being transfered to a sub-acute facility for chronic vents.
About four months later it was reported to me by nurses on the day shift that he and his wife walked in the door of the unit to present all of the nurses with chocolate as a way to say "Thanks!"
The fact that he was alive was amazing. The fact that he had a quality
life was a miracle.