After developing breathing difficulties at home and arriving at NorthEast via ambulance, my mother went into cardiac arrest in the ER. She was successfully resuscitated and was immediately taken to ICU. My brother, my grandmother, and I were escorted into her room where several nurses and the intensivist were attempting to stabilize her. We were asked to make decisions regarding treatment as her prognosis was poor and she had no advance directives to refer to. Immediately, my 11 years of nursing experience and graduate level nursing knowledge completely left me and I assumed the sole role of a scared, confused, worried, and utterly devastated daughter. But, there was a bright spot!
Kerry Weierbach was the primary ICU nurse assigned to care for my mom. From the time I walked into the room, I knew she was the best. She spoke to us in a calm, quiet, comforting tone as she diligently cared for my mom with an intense focus. She answered question after question with patience and understanding, even when we asked the same questions multiple times because we could not process what we were being told, and explained what was going on with Mom and what the medications were essentially doing for her in terms that we could all understand during this time of extreme duress. Although she knew what eventually would happen, she respectfully gave us the information and time we needed to make decisions we were comfortable making without causing us to feel rushed, pressured, or any less important than other family members whose loved ones had a much brighter prognosis. Not only did she care for my mom with skill and expertise, but she cared for us as a grieving family as well. We were offered warm blankets, drinks, and snacks. An endless supply of chairs seemed to appear out of nowhere as more and more family members began to arrive. At one point, when we honestly had no clue of what decision to make and how to proceed, Kerry made a suggestion – as the bags of vasopressors ran out one by one, what if we didn’t hang a new bag and just see what happened. We agreed with this suggestion as a family, and my mom left this world while the last vasopressor was still infusing, with her family surrounding her bedside telling her how much we loved her.
After my mom passed, Kerry assisted me as I stood in the corner of the room hyperventilating. She hugged us and gave us her sincere condolences and she sat beside my mom’s bed to answer questions regarding next steps. When we left the hospital that night, my brother and I felt very comfortable with the decisions we had made and the care and treatment our mother had been provided. My wish is that everyone who goes through this situation would be as lucky to have a nurse as wonderfully skilled, compassionate, and caring as Kerry was to us.