Pamela Young
June 2017
Medical ICU
University of Virginia Health System
United States




My 35-year-old son was transferred to the MICU with complications from pancreatitis. I received a call early Saturday morning that his condition had deteriorated rapidly. I was overwhelmed when I arrived at the hospital. My husband had remained at home with what we believed to be the flu and our daughter was snowbound in her home in NY unable to travel to us. I was accompanied by my sister and my son's beloved. The MICU staff and physicians were incredibly gracious and patient with me as I grasped the severity of the situation and the rapid-fire changes to his condition.
By evening I was exhausted, yet buzzed by the stark reality of the situation. I went into my son's room to just sit and be with him. He was sedated heavily and in a paralytic state pending a procedure, so I knew he was not aware of my presence. I was met by Pam, his night nurse who immediately made me comfortable both physically and mentally, magically sensing when I needed to talk and when I needed silence. I watched her tender care for my son, doing for him what I could not. When I needed to step away, I was confident that he had all he needed. Pam was there. This continued into Sunday with more ups and downs, but Pam was on Sunday night as well and both my son and I leaned on her. I was so grateful.
By Monday, northern road conditions had improved and my daughter was on her way. I had kept her apprised of her brother's condition regularly through the days as I had with my husband. I could not give false hope, but I could state with confidence, that he was receiving the absolute best care possible. We all knew the time was nigh that we would either honor his wishes not to be sustained by life support or hope for a miracle. I discussed with doctors my thoughts and they were warmly forthright in stating the case as fairly as possible and when my daughter arrived late that afternoon, they made themselves available to meet with us and answer any questions she might have. We did not have to linger over the greatest decision of our lives; it was clear that we must let our loved one go and decided we would be with him throughout the suspension of life support.
By the time paperwork and clearances had been made, we were just into the night shift. And who would help my beloved son out of this world? Pam, of course. I wept with thanksgiving. If I had doubts, I had them no more. God was in charge and Pam was my angel. And just as she cared for him so tenderly in our hopes for healing, she gently helped him home.
In healthcare, it may seem obvious who your patients are. But, if that were the case, then just about anyone with medical skill can be a nurse. An extraordinary nurse extends care to the patient, and as needed, to those that love them. Though the outcome for my son was not surviving, the impact on those of us left behind is life changing as we go about our lives without him. The difference is that we are able to grieve him with confidence that not only did he receive the very best care possible, but it was given with compassion and grace. Pam Young embodies this model!