One day, my sister had choked on a piece of bratwurst. The food went into her lungs, which caused her heart to stop and stopped the oxygen flow to her brain for a few minutes. The paramedics were able to remove the piece of bratwurst and revive her with CPR. She was brought to St. Luke's Hospital where she was admitted to the ICU.
My sister is considered a "special needs" person. She is non-verbal except for a handful of words. She is not able to function on her own. She lives in a Group Home where someone is there to take care of her needs for 24 hours a day.
When my sister arrived at St. Luke's, she had a procedure where she was "cooled" for 24 hours. The nurse told us this would relieve pressure on her brain.
On the second day, Justin was assigned to her for 12 hours. This was the day they would start warming my sister. Justin saw that she was coming to, so he started the warming procedure. That night my sister seemed very agitated as she seemed to be hurting. She couldn't tell us where she hurt, so Justin tried different ways to make her comfortable. Justin did not have an easy time understanding her at first. He didn't know how to communicate with her as she can only say a few words.
Justin kept trying different ideas. He was able to have the doctor order a light pain medicine to help her sleep that night.
Justin had my sister for his patient for three days in a row. Each of his work shifts, he took care of her and kept trying to communicate with her. It was interesting how fast he caught on to what she was saying or meant. By the end of three days, Justin and my sister seemed to understand each other. My sister seemed much more relaxed when Justin had to give her shots or take her blood pricks for blood sugar levels. This was a definite relief for our family.
On the third day, she failed the swallowing test. She could not swallow any consistency of food or liquid, without the food or liquid going into her lungs. Her throat muscles were too weak, so food would go into her lungs. The doctor recommended a stomach feeding tube to be placed into my sister. This was a big decision for the family, as only three days before, she was eating and drinking on her own. The family didn't know what to do.
I called Justin, as he was in a room during the swallowing test. He did not rush our conversation. He explained the consequences if she kept eating and drinking the way she had been doing. He was very professional and extremely helpful. We felt my sister was in the best care she could have when Justin was her nurse. Too bad, he couldn't follow her along to the other floors.
Justin is an outstanding role model as he put in extra effort to care for my sister. He developed a way to communicate with her, always found a way to make her comfortable, and helped her family when they needed to make a lifelong decision.