Amber Bridges was the nurse caring for my mother, on E4 on two pivotal days near the end of her long and satisfying life. My mom, who had a lengthy history of pulmonary compromise, was being treated for pneumonia and initially appeared to be improving. However, three days into her hospitalization a small hematoma started to appear under her tongue spreading quickly to her neck and enlarging steadily to the point where it threatened to block her airway entirely. ENT had been consulted, hematology had weighed in and imaging had been done. In the midst of this urgency and declining respiratory function my mother, who had long prepared for this moment, adamantly refused intubation, making it clear to everyone in the room that she was accepting and was ready for the prospect of death. The decision for comfort care was made.
Amber was the nurse who remained with and cared for my mother during the intense four hours that this dramatic shift from thoughts of discharge planning to preparations for the end of life occurred. She responded to my mother's wishes respectfully and compassionately, and by the time I had been summoned my mom was in a comfortable position, palliative care had been consulted, and arrangements made for the transfer of her roommate, creating a safe space for my family to gather for the final days. Amber sat down with us all, multiple times, to clearly explain her understanding of the situation, our options for pain control and agitation, and to help us anticipate what to expect. She was professional and sincerely caring at all times, taking the time after an undoubtedly exhausting twelve-hour shift, to go home and research my mom's condition and treatment options. There were moments of uncertainty when it seemed the hematoma was resolving and Amber helped us face and plan for differing possibilities and outcomes-articulating a clear view of her nursing judgment. It was tremendously helpful to have her input and tremendously reassuring to watch her care for my mom. In the end, my mother passed peacefully in her sleep, surrounded by loved ones, exactly as she had wanted. My family and I will be forever grateful.