I was admitted to UPMC Pinnacle Hanover in January with a number of medical issues. The team of doctors were of outstanding expertise and talent and deserve a special place in heaven when Almighty God has completed His goal for each of them here on earth. I have said many times the physicians and the technicians use their knowledge, talent, and intuition to identify the problem, but the real caregivers are the nurses and nursing assistants who are with the patients 24/7.
Hospitals can be a very lonesome place. I had nurses come and go, I had doctors come and go, I had food come, and when you are sick it stays, and you wish it would go. I had a few visitors who would come but did not want to stay long for fear they would keep me awake and tire me out. The truth is, I wanted them to stay, it kept me from being alone. When I was alone, too many negative thoughts entered my head and it was difficult to deal with negative thoughts all alone.
If I had had my way, I would nominate each nurse and nursing assistant on the 4th floor but since that is impossible I have chosen Shay Johnson for the DAISY Award.
It was “pill time” one evening and it had been a particularly difficult day. I had had no visitors, I was especially weak, I had not eaten anything, I continued to cough and spit up congestion. I was worried about my legally blind wife who was suffering from depression and worried about me. She was refusing all help. We will celebrate 50 years of marriage soon and because of identity theft, I have no money to do what we had planned. My chest hurt, and I thought to myself, “Maybe this is the night to take care of everything. I could solve my headache, my chest, and everything else associated with it.” I guess, in short, I was having a pity party. About this time, Shay walks in the door to give me my meds and the very first thing out of her mouth was, “You look like you lost your best friend, what’s wrong?” I replied “Nothing.” Shay responded, “Now tell me the truth, something is wrong.” So, I thought to myself, “Maybe I will, it surely can’t hurt,” so I proceeded to tell her a bit.
About five minutes into the conversation Shay says, “I have other patients I am responsible for, I’ll be back.” I think to myself “Yea, I should have known better. That’s the last time I try that!” Well, no more than five minutes later Shay returns and explains she wanted to find someone to care for her other patients because she does not want to be disturbed while we finish what we started.
To be honest, it could have been 5 minutes, it could have been 500 minutes. The point is, I needed her to return and she did, and we continued where we left off! Shay allowed me to talk about failed dreams, future dreams that will never come to fruition, failed accomplishments, but more importantly, she allowed me to think beyond the moment. She allowed me to forgive my son, work on forgiving my daughter-in-law, forgive the people I perceived who had wronged me in places where I had done volunteer work and enjoyed every minute. After my stroke, they seemed not to need me any longer. Shay helped me realize they did not want me back until I was whole again. They were looking out for my wellbeing, not rejecting me!
I have no idea how long Shay spent with me. She would leave, care for other patients, allowing me to think on my own and discuss my progress when she returned. She helped me want to live again! The way I was feeling before Shay walked into my room the first time that evening I am not certain, without her intervention, I would have lived that night. I wanted to end my life, I had the desire, I had the plan, and I had the means. I had the entire menu, according to the suicide hotline, for a successful suicide.
Shay Johnson changed my entire perspective on life and living. As I was getting dressed to go home I flushed “the means” down the toilet. She doesn’t realize it, but that night Shay placed new ideas of service, new ideas of giving, new ideas of purpose for my life front and center. She gave me new reasons to live despite the pain. She did not realize it but even gave me the answer to my head pain. When I called my neurosurgeon’s nurse practitioner she said,“Yes,” and gave me an appointment right away! Ms. Shay Johnson is not an angel, she is a Guardian Angel.
I believe every nurse and every nursing assistant deserve a DAISY. Ms. Shay Johnson deserves a Bouquet.