When I first met Darlene I had been in the hospital for about 2 weeks. I had gone from being an ICU nurse to being a patient. And nurses make terrible patients. I had been trying to be a good patient and let go of some of my ICU nurse tendencies; better known as type A personality and a need to be in control. I was also adjusting to my new life as a paraplegic and spinal cord injury patient. It is still difficult for me to use the term paraplegic. Darlene walked in and informed me that she heard I was a nurse. And I immediately informed her I was trying to be a good patient - we can give ourselves a bad reputation when we are on the receiving end of care. She assured me that she asked the off-going nurse if I was a good patient and that I was rumored to be one. By the end of the day, she became my primary nurse. Little did I know she would be the best thing to happen to me since my injury.
She helped me learn how to do self-catheterization, do my bowel program and deal with my new onset depression. Her voice is in my head every time I debate staying in bed for the day. Her voice is in my head every time I don’t want to do my exercises or eat. She told me that staying in bed isn’t an option and that I am here and alive and that is what is important.
During my month stay in the trauma rehabilitation unit I came to admire Darlene as a nurse. I think most nurses will tell you that there are a few nurses they would like to be when they “grow up”. This is one of those nurses for me. I have three nurses that I have met in my life that I want to be when I “grow up”. There are several attributes this nurse has that put her in that category for me. Her amazing empathy for her patients is one. Knowing when to hold your hand while you cry, but also knowing when to tell you to buck up and deal with it, is another. Her ability to mentor nursing students is another. Precepting a nursing student takes a special balance of patience and encouragement.
Darlene also goes above and beyond what many other nurses offer. Every day she worked I knew I would get either a shower or bed bath; even if I had one the day before. She also spent her downtime in the gym to check on her patients’ progress. I remember one day, in particular, I set my goal to walk to the nurses’ station so I could say hi to her. Sure enough, I turned the corner and she surprised me instead.
On the morning I was discharged, she found me crying in my room. She asked why I was crying; because this was a good day and I was going home. I was crying because I knew how much I would miss her. This is one of the most difficult times in my life and Darlene Batchilly made it a bit more bearable. Thank you, Darlene, you deserve this DAISY Award!