Monday, November 28, 2016

Dear PICU Nurse

I read a Huffington Post blog written by Heather Hucks titled "Dear NICU Nurse" and it brought me to tears. I sat on my front porch and cried for her, as I have cried so many times for myself these past few months. It wasn't tears of sadness though, it was tears of joy. Their baby made it, he fought and they fought...and he won! Tucker was a premature baby born at 24 weeks...and this mother shares an amazing bond with some of the most amazing people. 

We share a similar bond, only we share it with PICU nurses. I have mentioned the PICU nurses a couple of times in previous blogs, but after reading this heart felt story about the NICU nurses, I knew I had to share our experiences with some of the strongest people we have ever met.

Over the course of the two days that John was in the hospital we met so many doctors, nurses, and people that I could never name any one person specifically. I don't know their names, but I would know their faces in a crowded room, and they hold a very special place in our hearts.

This is the very last picture I took of John, and the only one his Mommy allowed
to be taken the day he passed. His hands and feet were the only things we
could touch because of all of the wires and tubes.

Dear PICU Nurse,

Unfortunately I knew you existed. I knew that there were people in the medical field that had to help the very sick, and dying children. I always knew you were a special kind of person. What I never knew is that on the worst day of our lives, you would have to be there for us.

I did not know that you would be the one to spend the next 24 hours with John. That you may or may not have had time to use the restroom or eat a quick snack because he required so much treatment. That you may or may not have had time to call and speak to your loved ones, while caring for our most precious loved one. I never knew the amount of skill required to administer those treatments. The ability to maintain multiple medication lines that were running all over his little body.

I never knew that you were responsible for monitoring his central lines, arterial lines, blood and blood gasses...his blood transfusions...but mostly his intracranial pressure. That you would record and watch all of these numbers and machines that were keeping him alive, and report immediately the slightest variations to the neonatal neuro surgeon. That you would notice his body temperature dropping and put a warming blanket on him to bring it back up. That you would constantly be adjusting his O2 levels or heart rate to keep him on track.

I had no idea that I would bump into you in the hallway and fall apart in front of you after asking questions I wish I had never had to ask, like how much longer Angela would have to wait in order to do organ donation, or if she could call it at anytime. Or how you hugged me when you never had to. Or constantly reminded Angela that this was her decision to donate or not, and no matter what she wasn't wrong. I never knew that you would have to explain the process of organ donation or ending life support on an eleven month old baby. One you could clearly see was desperately loved.

I am so glad I asked, otherwise we would have never known that we could hold John again...even with all of the tubes and wires that were in his body. Or that you are so strong you lifted his chunky little self right out of that bed, and into his Mommy's arms without missing a beat or messing up any wires. Or that you had a magical bag of knitted hats to cover his broken and bruised little head when we needed to unsee it most.

The one thing I never knew, and I am so glad you were there to teach me is that when push comes to shove you are the person that unplugs all of those tubes and wires. You are the one that places a baby in his mother's arms for the last time. That you are the one that turns off the machines keeping him alive. I never knew how strong you really are. NICU nurses are special, but PICU nurses are heroes in disguise. I will never know the amount of heart and soul that it takes to be a PICU nurse, but I know a couple that are angels to us. I will never know that amount of strength it takes to stand in a room full of heart broken family and makes impressions of a hand and foot because that is what we get to take home...not our baby.

I will never know how hard it was for you to watch a new mother bathe her baby for the last time, or to see a mountain of a man grandfather kiss him one last time. To watch aunts and uncles afraid to leave him behind. Desperate for one more touch, one more kiss. For anything.

What I do know is that I see you now. I see how truly special you are in this harsh world. I know that you have an extensive medical knowledge and set of skills that you used to the best of your ability for our baby. I know that when you probably wanted to cry, you held it together for our sake. We will never be able to repay the kindness and tenderness you showed not only John, but us as well. I know that during the most difficult day of our lives you were our rock and guiding light.

I hope that most of the families that have to meet you, have a better outcome than we did. That you can give hugs of happiness and not sorrow. I know that one day, sooner than you wish, you will have to help another grieving family...and my heart is with you. My heart will always be with you.

Your Biggest Fan Ever,

A Heartbroken PICU Aunt Wizza

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