Friday, November 14, 2014


I'm not sure I could ever properly put into words the gratitude I feel for the nurses who have cared for Natalie, but I will at least try to in this post.

This is directed at not just the nurses in this PICU, but all of the nurses who have so lovingly cared for our daughter -- and us -- over the past eight years. From the day Natalie was born, we have met the most amazing women, and a couple of men, who have spent their lives taking care of others.

The first person to present Natalie to me was her NICU nurse, Laureen. To this day, she is a part of our lives, as are many of the NICU nurses in Minot who cared for Natalie, even though we don't see them on a regular basis. They were the women who were there when Natalie struggled to survive in the first days of her life. They were there, handing Natalie to me for the first time in the NICU, two weeks after she was born.

Then came the nurses from the University of Minnesota - Fairview (the hospital name has now changed). They whisked her away on an airplane in the middle of the night and stayed with her through the roughest of hours and days. The bonds I made with those nurses can never be broken.

Now, we've come to know a whole new set of nurses at the Sanford Children's Hospital PICU. After a month of hospitalization, I've met the most amazing women...some new to the profession, others who have been around for a long time.

In between hospital stays, there are the nurses who have cared for Natalie in the clinics. They know her story and know how to react when I call the office in a panic.

All of these women are so different, and yet have one common characteristic: their love of helping others. It is amazing to watch them work, and I'm so honored to call them friends.

Over the past month, I've done some thinking about all of the things a nurse does that can sometimes go unnoticed. Her job description is a complicated one. These are a few of the responsibilities I've observed:

CAREGIVERS: They do the things that most wouldn't care to do on a daily basis, like changing diapers, cleaning up saliva, dealing with all of the various bodily fluids that are present in a hospital. They give baths quickly and skillfully, and yet lovingly. They do their best to prevent skin breakdown and bedsores. They do all they can to make sure their patients are as comfortable as possible in a difficult situation. Not only do they care for Natalie, but they care for us. They never leave the room without making sure that we have everything we need.

TROUBLE SHOOTERS: When things are going wrong with a patient, they do all they can to figure out how to fix it. A problem that arises can be the result of many causes, and they trouble shoot to make things better. The answer to a problem isn't always easy to arrive upon -- but they are often left to figure it out on their own.

PLUMBERS: Yes, plumbers. Have you ever seen a nurse sort through the lines of ten pressers to administer a medication? I'm amazed at how they have to figure out which medicine goes here, which feeding tube port goes there; it's so confusing! I can't believe they can keep all of the IVs and lines in order and keep those IVs working well.

JANITORS: They make sure the rooms are clean, in between the times when the actual janitors arrive. They keep things orderly, which may not seem like a big responsibility, but when they've got other patients to care for, and endless charting to do, they still make sure that things are tidy when they leave the room. For the past month, this room has been my home, so it is appreciated!

DOCTORS: Let's face it, the doctors get all the glory. They may make the big decisions, but they are often not there in the middle of the night, dealing with the racing heartbeat and the stomach pains. The doctors are consulted, but the nurses make the quick decisions the majority of the time. They make those decisions based on experience, and do so without hesitation. They have to know how to interact with each doctor; some doctors like to be told what the nurses think needs to be done, other doctors like to come up with the solution on their own.

ASSISTANTS: While nurses do make a lot of the decisions on their own based on what their orders allow them to do, they are there to assist the doctor in any way possible. They anticipate what a doctor needs, and even if they are racing around doing multiple tasks at once, they will drop whatever it is when a doctor asks for something. They get it all done, and often I think it is overlooked at how much they do on a daily basis.

CLERKS: Charting. They chart all day long when they're not caring for patients. Yuck.

COUNSELORS: I don't know how many times I've cried in front of nurses, or how many times I've asked for advice. They listen and understand. They're a shoulder to cry on, and they are there to tell me what I need to hear. Sometimes that what I need to hear is the absolute truth, other times it's just offering up the best case scenario so I don't lose it. They are there for the best times and the worst times, and everything in between. Which leads to...

FRIENDS: I've spent a lot of time in the NICU and PICU, and typically my favorite time to be here is in the evenings and overnight, because I can sit and talk to the nurses without the hustle and bustle of all that goes on during the day. I've made some pretty awesome friends over the years. Natalie's hospital stays have thrust us into the world of these professionals, but they always become more than nurses to us. We are so blessed to be able to know these people, and even when we leave here, we know that they're always in our hearts and never far away.

They do all of this on long shifts, at odd hours, over weekends, and on holidays. Sometimes they have to stay longer than they want to because extra help is needed, but you won't find them complaining about it. You can tell they do what they do because they love to do it.

While nurses are a huge part of Natalie's care team, so are the many respiratory therapists who have spent countless hours doing their best to help Natalie breathe. They have a tough job, and are constantly being called to different rooms to help treat patients and tend to equipment. All of you have been amazing, and I'm so glad we got to know each and every one of you.

We may be leaving soon, but our excitement to be home doesn't mean we are excited to leave you. We love you all. Thank you from the bottom of our hearts.


Unknown said...

I have been following Miss Natalies progress here and am so pleased to see she is better ! Thank you so very much for your kind and heart felt words about nurses. They are invigorating to my soul !!!!!

Unknown said...

Sorry, unknown is Val Bibow, Minot NICU

Natalie Beatrice Olson said...

Hmmm....I think I remember a Val. ;) Hi Val! I'm so glad you posted a comment. It's so nice to know that some of Natalie's NICU nurses are still following her. Thank you!

Laureen Klein said...

What a beautiful post. It is families that make our work worthwhile. Love as powerful as yours for your darling Natalie is inspirational. Thank you for your tribute. Laureen