Alison Cantrell
August 2020
Alison
Cantrell
,
RN
5 South
Blessing Hospital
Quincy
,
IL

 

 

 

You could hear the pain in Alison's voice, it was as if she could feel our pain. We received the pictures with a message that said, "I was singing Eric Clapton's Wonderful Tonight when I took them."

Our mother was found unresponsive and alone in her home. The neighbor kicked in the door, called 911, and stayed with her until the paramedics got her stabilized enough that they could load her into the ambulance that brought her into Blessing Hospital. We were uncertain as to if we would be able to see her, be with her, or even be able to know what was going on with her since we were in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic. I think that all of us have never felt so helpless and so terrified in all of our lives.

Upon her arrival to the hospital, all of her children were in contact with each other by phone and text due to two of us not living in this area and her husband is a resident at Sunset Home. We were hopeful and terrified all at the same time. It seemed like forever that we were waiting on information about how she was, what was going on, and most importantly, was she going to be alright. When her labs came back we were hopeful, as we were told that they weren't horrible but they weren't perfect either. They were going to take her to have a CT done and then we would hopefully have more definitive answers.

Once the CT scan came back, we all felt our hopes and prayers come crashing down as we found out that our mom had a massive brain bleed, two strokes on her left brain, as well as a midline shift to her brain. We had to face the facts that this was the worst-case scenario we could have imagined and two of us were three and six hours away. We were faced with making decisions we didn't ever want to make and we had to make them quickly. We had to face that she was going to pass away, there was nothing that we could do to save or protect her, and that two of us may not make it to her before she passed. All of this in a matter of about three hours. Our lives as we knew them were changed and would never be the same again. There was nothing we could do, nothing we could say and because of this pandemic, we were not going to be able to see her, to kiss her, or tell her we love her because she was in a negative pressure room since she had been tested for the COVID-19 virus.

We told staff to extubate our mother since there was nothing we could do and the ventilator was doing more harm than good. The two daughters that didn't live in the area were already in their vehicles driving, trying to get to the hospital before their mother passed away. The staff told the two daughters that were here that they were going to admit her into the hospital, as no one ever knows how long this would take or when it could happen. They said that they couldn't keep her in the emergency department and that she would be admitted to 5South/NPU.

The nurse who admitted her was with her for a short period of time and was very thoughtful and amazing. Then Alison was one of her day nurses because she was orienting a new nurse. Since Alison had an orienting nurse she could devote 100% of her time to our mother. When the first daughter from out of town got here, we were trying to find a way for her to be able to say goodbye but we kept meeting roadblocks with no avail. Finally, we spoke with the House Supervisor and she said that if we could get a tablet or phone up to the unit that Alison would be able to help us FaceTime with her since we couldn't be there. Alison held the phone so everyone could have a moment to talk to mom, share memories, and say their final goodbyes. Alison gave everyone the chance to get some type of closure, which was better than no closure at all. She asked what kind of music mom liked and we all laughed as we told Alison that her favorite music was classic rock. We asked that she take a picture of her hands so we could keep it. While the last one of us was saying goodbye, we noticed a slight change in her breathing. We asked Alison to send the phone back down to the entrance so that we could go to the nursing home and prepare her husband and give him the chance to FaceTime and say goodbye. Unfortunately, we didn't make it. She passed at 8:45 am. Alison called to inform us that she had passed. You could hear the pain in her voice, it was as if she could feel our pain. After we were informed of what happened, Alison then texted one of us and told us she had the pictures that we requested. We asked her to send them to us. We received the pictures with a message that said, "I was singing Eric Clapton's Wonderful Tonight when I took them."

Alison was such an amazing asset to Blessing Hospital. She was our Angel who watched over and made our mother feel safe and comfortable in her last moments. Without Alison, we would have had no way to say goodbye, to have had any type of closure, and our mother would not have had someone's had to hold onto in her final moments. What Alison has done is nothing short of amazing and she definitely went above and beyond what her job entails. She is truly an angel.