Gregory Patterson
January 2023
Gamma Knife
UVA Health
United States




Mr. Patterson (who has many years of experience in his specialty) recognized that this time would also be precious to prepare me for what was to come. He immediately engaged me with humor and empathy in conversation that exuded not only caring but also expertise.
My wife is a trigeminal neuralgia warrior who has lived with chronic facial pain for the past 10 years.  She has bounced from dentist, to ENT, to neurologist, and finally landed in the care of a neurosurgeon after many failed medication regimens.  After careful review of her history, the doctor concluded that my wife was an ideal candidate for gamma knife surgery to relieve her debilitating symptom of facial pain.  

We entered the hospital early and quickly moved from registration, to pre-op, and then (my wife) went off to the OR for the application of a stereotactic frame in preparation for the gamma knife procedure. Concurrently, I was whisked down to a section of the Medical Center I had yet to see - even after 11 years as a team member.  Deep in the heart of the facility, kept under both lock and key, as well as constant observation, is the gamma knife center.  There I met another hidden treasure - Greg Patterson, BSN, RN, AMB-BC.  

As I entered the gamma knife waiting area Greg greeted me with kindness and a firm handshake.  He already had measures in place to limit the anxiety of both my wife and me.  In an area using the latest technology, it would be easy to forget the simple things which also lead to comfort.  In this case, Mr. Patterson excelled, appropriately dimmed lighting, soothing Zen-like music, and a warming (albeit digital) campfire on a large screen all worked synergistically to allay fear.  

Mr. Patterson directed me to the bed that my wife would soon occupy once she was transferred from the operating room, and I settled in for what I thought would be time to dwell on questions like, "what will my wife look like with the frame on? Will she be in pain? Is she scared? And, how will I be able to help her?"  However, Mr. Patterson (who has many years of experience in his specialty) recognized that this time would also be precious to prepare me for what was to come.  He immediately engaged me with humor and empathy in conversation that exuded not only caring but also expertise.  Within moments he was able to relay a generalization of my wife's road map leading to the gamma knife surgery.  He acknowledged how difficult trigeminal neuralgia is for patients and their family members.  Yet, he provided hope and reassurance in summarizing prior success through gamma knife therapy.  Additionally, he provided a written copy of current literature for additional therapies to explore if that should be required.  

A while later my wife was wheeled in from the operating room with her stereotactic frame in place.  I would be lying if said I wasn't still a bit nervous, but the preparation Mr. Patterson had provided went a long way to reduce my fear and anxiety.  My wife then got situated in her bed, and Mr. Patterson quickly turned his focus to assessing how she was doing.  His assessment revealed that my wife was experiencing an unusual amount of pain from her left posterior pin site. Subsequently, Mr. Patterson implemented positioning measures (he quickly worked through three different ways to support her head, with a pillow, while reducing pressure on the posterior pin sites).  After a short while, he reassessed her and concluded that it was time to collaborate with physician partners to provide further local anesthesia.  Once this was complete my wife was again comfortable, and a short while afterward her gamma knife procedure was set to begin.  

Mr. Patterson then obtained permission for me to escort my wife to the gamma knife room and to be at her side during the initial positioning.  This further provided comfort during a yet unknown phase for both my wife and I.  Fast forward approximately 45 minutes and Mr. Patterson was again at my wife's side.  

This time it was for removal of the frame, and with removal venous bleeding was encountered.  Again, Mr. Patterson knew immediately how to intervene to achieve hemostasis and to inform the rest of the care team.  Once the bleeding was controlled my wife returned to the gamma knife pre/post-op area.  There her symptoms were again immediately assessed and addressed.  This time pain turned to nausea.  Again, Mr. Patterson treated this effectively without the need for pharmacologic intervention.  After the nausea had subsided, Mr. Paterson reviewed a set of very detailed post-operative discharge instructions he had drafted. These included what to expect as a result of the procedure, what to look out for, and whom to contact should something go sideways.  Mr. Patterson continued to show a vested interest in the future recovery of my wife.

Mr. Patterson provides professional, compassionate, expert nursing care at an exceptional level.  He skillfully draws on numerous years of experience to anticipate and respond to patient challenges while alleviating anxiety and fear.  He builds a safety net for his patient through clear, precise, and timely communication as his patient transitions back into the community.  The gamma knife program and UVA Health are both lucky to have Mr. Patterson BSN, RN, AMB-BC as a valued team member, and my wife and I are so very grateful for his both good and great caring and expertise.