Susan & Julie – Pediatrics and Nursing

Thursday, November 18, 2010  •  Patient Stories

Nurse Susan in her scrubsJulie was only twelve. She was standing at the bus stop when a car, rounding the corner, lost control – striking Julie and dragging her helpless body along a chain link fence.

At that time, Sue was the Assistant Head Nurse on the Pediatric Floor. Sue recalls that when Julie arrived, “She looked so broken and wounded as she slept.” Sue wondered how this fragile little angel could have survived such a brutal blow and how she could endure the pain and harm her body suffered.

Julie’s left leg was almost severed, both of her femur bones were broken and she had multiple facial lacerations and body abrasions.

Her mother was devastated. Sue remembers thinking, “Julie will awaken soon. How can I begin to help Julie and her family walk the long road ahead to recovery?”

The days that followed were difficult for everyone. Julie’s nurses had to persuade the medical doctors to use a PCA narcotic pump to control her pain, which was not used in Pediatric patients at that time. But in spite of this, Julie’s muscle spasms and dressing changes produced intolerable shrieks of pain.

Weeks passed…filled with episodes of infection and numerous trips to surgery for skin graftings. Julie’s friends and family remained supportive bringing endless gifts, but even their frequent visits couldn’t help the feelings of sadness, anger and depression that followed this long-term hospital stay.

Sue remembers building a special relationship with Julie. “I was drawn to her bedside daily and spent many hours just talking, listening and crying with her. There were happy moments too, filled with jokes and laughter…like the time the nursing staff helped decorate Julie’s room with streamers and balloons. And I remember how we all silently prayed daily for Julie to receive God’s gift of healing, pain control and strength.”

Many years later, Sue was getting ready to go off duty, and she heard someone call her name, “Hello, Sue? Do you remember me?”

Sue turned to see the eyes of a familiar young woman dressed in a nursing student uniform. Confused for a moment, she heard, “It’s me…Julie!!” “Of course,” Sue thought, “It was Julie.”

Tears filled Sue’s eyes as she gave Julie a hug. She hadn’t thought about Julie in a long time. “I was so happy to see her now…all grown up… and to think she was nearly finished with her nursing training!”

They spoke for a brief time and suddenly Sue asked, “Julie, what made you decide to become a nurse?” Julie quickly answered, “I want to help people. I want to give as much of myself as you and the other nurses gave to me when I was hurt and in so much pain.”

And Sue realized, “It’s really simple how we as nurses have the rare opportunity to give of ourselves daily to each and every patient and to their families. We often don’t realize it at the time, but WE DO MAKE A DIFFERENCE IN PEOPLE’S LIVES.

The Lakeland Regional Medical Center Foundation supports an initiative that provides our nursing staff with advanced accreditations and subspecialty training. By offering and encouraging these certification programs, we can raise standards of care and provide our nursing staff with the tools they need to meet those standards. More importantly, we can ensure a higher level of care for our patients, now and in the future.