In 2010, I remember praying and hoping that our son would be well enough go to his first day of high school and now he is graduating from college.
In June of 2010, the summer before his high school freshman year, we found ourselves racing to the University of Maryland Medical Center (UMMC) by ambulance. We were being transferred from Howard County General Hospital having been told they could not treat our son properly. He was admitted to UMMC and diagnosed with a ruptured appendix and Crohn's disease. I'll never forget some of the first words from the medical staff, "Mom, you need to plan for your son to be with us for three to five weeks."
He spent the next three weeks on 5 South, where he underwent tests, treatments and surgery. He was treated by two doctors along with many caring nurses and inquisitive medical students, interns, residents and fellows. Our son was a very sick young man. He was discharged and, with a brief return to UMMD for kidney stones, began learning to live with Crohn's disease.
The following month we returned to UMMC, to the Pediatric Infusion Center where we met Jeanne Cavalier, RN. For the next six years, Jeanne was our infusion nurse and our lifeline to navigating Crohn's disease, all the assorted health issues related to the disease and side effects of his treatment.
Approximately every six weeks we would spend three to four hours with Jeanne in the infusion center. She was always professional, kind and precise. She explained everything to us, answered all our son's questions, and helped us understand what was happening. When issues arose in between visits, she answered our telephone calls and pointed us to the appropriate doctor. During the six years our son endured weight loss, flu, mononucleosis, cellulitis and other health issues; Jeanne helped us at each juncture.
When our son chose to go to VT for college, five hours from home, we decided to continue his infusions at UMMC, in no small part due to Jeanne's presence and care. Jeanne understood the need to work around his college class schedule. Jeanne helped educate us about Crohn's disease, how Remicade was working in his body, and armed him with information to make good life choices in college. Had he not aged out of pediatrics, we would still be headed to the Pediatric Infusion Center to see Jeanne for his infusions.
Over six years I watched Jeanne interact with hundreds of children and their families. She has a way of making each of us feel calm; that we are not in this journey alone and that there is hope. She does this all while performing tests, drawing blood, responding to beeping equipment and infusing the young patents. In short: patient care at its best. Jeanne is a wonderful person and an incredible asset to UMMC.
We can never repay Jeanne for all she has done for us in her quiet way, in the small Pediatric Infusion Center tucked away on the Fifth Floor. We thank her always! We keep her in our prayers, always for the EXTRAORDINARY Nurse that she is!