I am a heart transplant patient, and I spent nearly two weeks on 4 North. In that time, I met many exceptional professional caregivers, all of whom, in my mind, deserves an award for excellence, and for going above and beyond their job descriptions.
Many mornings, I would wake up too early and be in too much discomfort. Several nights, sleep was uncomfortable, and on a few nights, I had no meaningful sleep at all.
One morning I woke up late. I knew it was late (for me) because the sun was well up, and I felt relatively well rested. I was startled. Then, I looked over toward the door and saw a smiling face looking right at me. "Hi, I'm Kathleen, and I'll be your nurse today." When I said good morning and asked what was going on she said, "I'm guarding the door so that you can sleep." In the past several years, I have been in the hospital, often in a critical care unit, for months on end. This is the first and only time that a nurse has ever cared enough to help me in this way.
Because regaining my physical self is so crucial to the trajectory of my recovery, getting up and walking around the unit and the floor was always an important and very welcomed activity, one that the doctors, physical therapists and other caregivers particularly appreciated and condoned.
Kathleen Rogers gave this aspect of my care her full attention and more. After checking with me to see if I could, felt like and wanted to do so, she asked if I wanted to take a walk outside. I was overjoyed. She kindly tied the back of my hospital gown, and we walked together to the elevator and down to the first floor. All the while, Kathleen kept her eye on me and regularly asked how I was feeling, and if I was okay.
We walked at a pace that was very comfortable to me, and Kathleen walked right with me every step of the way. When I saw the sunshine, I was elated, and when I felt it wash over me, I took my first deep breath of fresh air with my new heart, and a new sense of happiness and complete confidence in myself. My senses and, most importantly, my spirits were completely lifted.
I have so many extraordinary people at UVA to thank for giving me my life back. But of all the days I've had post-transplant, this was the singular day in which I turned the corner, physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. This was the day that I got a positive foothold, not just on my recovery, but on my life. I would not have achieved that foothold were in not for the kindness, compassion, caring and empathy that Kathleen gave me that day. Teachers can attempt to teach these qualities, but at the end of the day, they either come from the heart, or they don't. I needed this day so much, and I was fortunate enough to experience it. I will never forget the beautiful staff of 4 North for every kind thing they did to help me along my way back, but I will never, ever forget what Kathleen Rogers did for me that day. She truly deserves the DAISY Award.