April 26, 2015 is a day I will have embedded in my mind because I could not have been happier and prouder of being part of a nursing team. I was in charge of the unit on this day. Being in charge is a huge responsibility by making sure everything runs smooth on the unit, but having a supervisor that is supportive is truly a blessing. Joy Martin was our supervisor on this "special" day.
Being a nurse for someone with a life limiting illness is stressful, but this day was so rewarding. How do I begin to tell the story of how great this day was for a failing patient whom multiple nursing staff had cared for in the last couple of weeks?
During her hospitalization, sadly she was diagnosed with cancer. She went from a full code to DNR-CC within days of being diagnosed. Seeing her smile, hearing her words of thank you for the smallest things will linger in our memories. Even after she was informed of her condition, she continued to smile, making us smile, thanking us for just being there for her.
At approximately 1100 on April 26, I was informed that our "special" patient was going to have a pastor coming in a 1400. On a Sunday afternoon, it wasn't unusual for pastors to come in and visit a patient, however this was going to be a different "visit", she was going to get married!
We knew we were working against the clock, but after informing Joy what was about to happen in a few hours Joy jumped in to help us out. Joy had us buy a wedding cake, a card and we even got champagne bottles (white grape juice) and plastic champagne glasses. We had background wedding music for the ceremony. We thought we were doing well for such short notice.
Without saying a word, Joy put her wheels in action. She ordered a fruit and vegetable platter from Dietary. She had someone bring in flowers for the "bride" to hold during the ceremony and a vase for her to keep in her room. She also bought a gift card for the couple to enjoy after the hospitalization. Joy thought about it all. She made a last minute event the most beautiful and memorable moment not just for our special patient, but for the entire staff too!
There was standing room only with the dozen or so individuals witnessing the ceremony, Joy stood there with tears in her eyes. Joy gave a little speech to the couple after the ceremony that brought tears to all of our eyes! We took pictures (with a written consent for photography signed) and made a little wedding album for her to keep.
I don't know if Joy knows what she did for us as a nursing group, but I want her to know what she did for our quickly deteriorating patient that day.
After everyone left, I went in and sat down with the patient. I held her hand and told her it was a long day for her and to close her eyes and rest. She replied by saying "... every time I shut my eyes, I see my husband and all of you wonderful kids smiles and love. I can't believe your supervisor helped to make my day lovely. Please thank her for me, she must be an angel too". She went on and said "I don't know what I did to deserve all this, but there is a special place in my heart for people like your supervisor and all of you nurses".
Joy didn't let us know what she did behind the scenes to make this day wonderful for not just us as nursing staff, but especially for the "special" patient we had all loved to care for. I know this could be a Magnet moment, I know this could be a Value & Action moment, however for Joy to do what she did for this patient who doesn't have a long time left to enjoy, she deserves to have a DAISY Award!! Thank you Joy - this is what makes a nurse special!
The patient died the following Wednesday - the hospice people said she was talking about her "wedding" all day. The next day I worked ~ Joy saw me and we cried together ~ so pleased we could bring her happiness at the end.