Don't Curse the Nurse!

Sharing support with stories & humor

Power in Small Packages

on January 11, 2020

This is a story about resilience and what an honor it is when someone shares their fears with you.


Not long ago, I prepped someone for back surgery, their third back surgery, and this was no ordinary patient.


I had met her and her spouse a year prior. Through conversation I learned they both had military backgrounds. His — I could have guessed. He had the bearings, the posture of someone who understood regiment. Hers — a little bit of as surprise. Petite and effervescent – imagine a young Michele Pfeiffer.  Somehow, through natural flow of conversation, I learned she had suffered much loss at a very young age and built her future with a lot of hard work and determination.


Before going in for this surgery, her mood quieted, she called me over. “You got my back, right?”

She said it with a straight face. I couldn’t tell if the pun was intended, but then her eyes welled.

“Of course, of course I do. Your surgeon, he’s the one I went to see last year myself.”

She relaxed some. Minutes later the OR team entered and she gave them the most genuine smile a patient could give. I gave her the pre-op meds ordered for her.

Off to the operating room she went. I talked to her husband for a moment before he exited.

An hour and a half later I heard a rapid response call to the recovery room. I looked at the schedule at the desk, wondering Who had a problem post-surgery?

Walking over to PACU later, I learned it had been her and she was now in ICU.

My heart sank.

I went to the waiting room to see her husband and to see how she was doing. He, I learned, was upstairs with her. With permission from the nurse and an affirmative head nod from my patient’s spouse, I stepped into her room and over to her bedside. She had just been extubated.

This tiny package of dynamite wasn’t content to have an Endotracheal tube down her throat. Less than six hours after it had been placed, she had improved enough to have it removed.

Quite uncommon

Some people will never let life knock them down.

3 responses to “Power in Small Packages

  1. I know you had a different point here, but your patients are so blessed to have you by their side.

    • Susan says:

      Thank you!
      This was a patient I met up with outside of work after a prior surgery months prior. My heart sunk so low to hear it was she that decompensated in the recovery room. Love how she fought back against being intubated.

  2. BETH says:

    We lost a teacher at CTTS last Saturday. Everyone was shocked and saddened too. He was always a ball of energy from daylight to dark. Just a day or two before he had personally gone from one student and teacher to another to talk about his plans for Sunday. His twisted scoliosis body never seemed to feel the pain, but we knew it did. When his feet swelled to the bursting point, several had tried to get him to rest, but he never listened. He had a work to do and was about it every day.

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