Nurses Make the Difference

National Nurses Week - Colin's Favorites

I remember my first infusion nurse like it was yesterday. I can tell you every single nurse I have had for the last 17 years of infusions and with my Immunologist. There are a couple of nurses that stick out. The one’s that help make a lifelong treatment more bearable. They came to my house every 3-4 weeks for years. They were there for the ups and downs. There were even a select few nurses that became a part of the family. They got to see me at my most vulnerable every time they showed up. A rare occurrence only shared with a few trusted people in my life.

My second infusion ever was in October 1999 at the infusion suite in the University of Irvine. The nurse had this incredible way of making you feel comfortable and forget about how you were spending the next several hours of your life. She also loved to brag about her daughter. Her daughter was an Olympic weight lifter, random fact. I was only there for about a year until we moved from Orange County, California to a suburb north of Atlanta.

My dad’s company helped us find a great team at Emory University. That team was on another level, like no one after them has even compared or come close. Well, my current team comes close. J Nurse Pat ran the show there and you didn’t mess with her patients. Lisa was the nurse that ran almost every department. She eventually transferred to another department, but her heart always lied with her PI patients. I loved that team, and I owe them a LOT.

In college I had a home infusion nurse named Terri. She used to come to my dorm room and my three roommates knew when she was scheduled to come because two things had to happen, 1) we had to clean the entire dorm room because she would note in her paperwork if we didn’t and 2) it was family dinner night. Side note… I had really cool college roommates. I will never forget the super bowl party we threw on infusion day one year.  Terri was there for a lot of big moments, but it was rather unfortunate that she just did not show up for an infusion one day. I could not get a hold of her and the nursing company did not know what happened. It was strange, and I am still upset I never got to say thank you. She was there for a lot of big events.

The next great nurse has to be Deborah. Infusion day was filled with hilarious stories, movies, and Dog the Bounty Hunter. We covered the basics to get the paperwork done every infusion and then we just talked. I looked forward to my infusion days with her. They were relaxed, we caught up, and I generally felt her concern and care for me. We were together for a while; I mean she outlasted several girls and a job. Finally, after graduation I accepted a job in Baltimore and that meant I had to say bye and it was hard. She used to come over and brag about her sons, but the amazing thing was is she always treated me like one of them. Infusion day was like I was home for the weekend from college. Side note – Deborah and I are still friends on Facebook and catch up as we can.

I think the final nurse that had the greatest impact was Larry. I happened to be working for the same specialty pharmacy as Larry when he was my home infusion nurse. The best way to describe him was a proud family man, with an insane background. Larry loved to talk about his kids, his wife, and the Dallas Cowboys. He was a military man who used to be a combat nurse. Now, I know I lived in Baltimore, but he was WAY overqualified. I can’t imagine how his background of starting IV’s in a helicopter taking off in a combat zone compared with starting my infusion from the sofa. Larry got to meet my wife before she was my wife. He was a special guy and it was a privilege getting to know him. Unfortunately, my company switched pharmacies and I couldn’t get Larry switched with me.

Overall, a great nurse in a clinic, at home for your infusion or with you in your time of need makes all the difference. To all the nurses that have had an impact on a patient - thank you.  You make a difference in the lives of patients around the world. You help make a crisis for a rare disease patient more bearable and for that I can’t say thank you enough.

Make sure you take a moment to recognize the nurses that make the difference in your care!

Share your favorite nurse story on social media with the hashtag, #nursesmakethedifference #nursesweek