Our son suffered a series of tumbling and unforeseen medical catastrophes over a month ago and he is still at Seattle Children's Hospital, but things are looking hopeful. It's been a terrifying and unbelievably stressful time for our family, and the SCH nurses have by and large been such an amazingly positive force—medically, psychologically, emotionally—it's been difficult to narrow it down to just one superstar. But I think Christianne Cook really stands out.
When I first met Christianne, I wasn't sure I liked her (to be fair, I wasn't sure I liked anyone at the time, and the constant shift changes were very difficult on a family living there for such a long stay): she hadn't yet read the "long chart" and so didn't know how long we'd been in SCH, a fact I both resented and fully understood (the "he's MY child" and "he's not the ONLY CHILD HERE" game is the only game my mind could play most days). My son's condition was so up and down, so hopeful-then-NPO, we were at wit's end. Every creak of the door opening made me want to throw up. I spent my days hiding my shaking hands from my son.
Christianne was neither the younger nurses who weren't sure how to talk to a 15-year-old in a children's hospital, nor the older nurses who could have been approaching a grandmother age for him, nor the few amazing nurses who talked about movies with him (the Marvel universe, Inside Job, The Prestige) and laughed about The Office. Let's be clear: I have loved all of those nurses as well.
Christianne was different. After she figured out how long we've been at SCH, and that we were pretty up-to-date on our son's condition, she went into a different space with us. She became a fierce protector of our son. She communicated openly with me and with him and never patronized either of us. She was constantly there, very matter-of-fact, and always calm and frank even when things became very concerning. She took the time to make a teen feel as comfortable as possible in the worst of places, both physical and emotional.
At one point last Friday, my son had two incredibly frightening events: first, the appearance of a stroke-like occurrence as Christianne was drawing labs. As I realized the severity of it, I said: "I think we should call someone, don't you?" She calmly said "Absolutely, and as soon as I am done, I will." I was freaking right out, and she finished the draw and called the docs immediately, and they came just as fast. Fast-forward, my son shortly thereafter had a bleeding event from recent surgery, and she was on that just as fast, and just as forcibly and calmly. There was a lot of mayhem that day, and she was unspeakably calm, serious, fast-moving and capable.
We were moved back into the CICU for the night, and Christianne came up with us.
Today, three days later, Christianne found us back on River 6, and just came by to say hi and see how our son is doing. She asked about the point where she'd applied pressure to stop his bleeding and asked about his general recovery. And she asked about us, the parents, to see how we are doing as well.
SCH has a lot of incredible nurses (and I wish we hadn't had to meet so many of them!), but Christianne is truly extraordinary. She figured out my son quickly, she figured out us quickly, she found moments to engage as human-to-human rather than merely professional-to-patient/family, she was never patronizing or dismissive, and in a moment of crisis, she was as calm, collected and professional as anyone could hope for. She is an example of the best any nurse could be.