a few fabulous extraordinary remarkable individuals

Friday, June 7, 2013

"not all of us can do great things. but we can do small things with great love"

a shout out to all health care providers ~ the work you do matters! I know all too well how frustrating and chaotic a shift can be or how few the thank you's are. But please know that you truly are blessings to your patients. You make a difference. 

I have to start with these doctors

Dr. Ali ~ the ONLY reason I initially saw Dr. Ali was because I needed a stupid paper signed to get into graduate school [some nonsense about being healthy for school/clinicals] and he had an appointment available the next day. I even told him I probably wouldn't every be back to see him... little did I know I would be seeing a lot of him over the next few months :) I was so fortunate to have him as my primary doctor - he was concerned, took my symptoms seriously, explained everything to me, and wasn't afraid to get a second opinion aka send me to a cardiologist. Dr. Ali worked with me to take care of my health and figure things out. 

Dr. Koster ~ She quite possibly saved my life. Dr. Koster was the 2nd cardiologist I saw after everything started. Unlike the first one, she did not act like I was imagining my symptoms or that they were perfectly normal or not explain a single thing to me. She really listened and did something... changing medications, ordering quite a few tests, and following up. She didn't settle for not knowing. On a whim or gut feeling she ordered a CT coronary angiogram - she said it was because she didn't know why I was continuing to have chest pain and she wanted to be thorough. That test revealed the heart defect. She has been a fantastic cardiologist!

Dr. Jurrens ~ This lovely cardiologist was on-call for Dr. Koster the day we found out about the heart defect. That was one of the craziest phones calls - I felt like absolutely sick when she told me. Delivering bad news is never easy but Dr. Jurrens managed to do it with clarity, compassion, and grace. She explained the defect to me, recommended surgery, asked permission to contact the Mayo Clinic, AND apologized numerous times. She even gave me her cell phone number to call or text with any answers or concerns... She made me feel that I wasn't alone! 

I met some amazing people at Saint Mary's Hospital... people I will never forget. 

congenital heart defect cardiac surgery
Dr. Dearani stopped by on discharge day to say good bye
Dr. Dearani ~ caring. down to earth. brilliant. amazing bedside manner. strong handshake. handsome. funny. humble. I am convinced that Dr. Dearani is one of the best cardiac surgeons. He is considered to be one of America's leading experts on various cardiac topics, has won many prestigious awards, has been published, blah blah blah AND he acts like a real person! He filled out my consent form, went through it with me, and had me sign it - I about died. I have NEVER had a surgeon or doctor fill out a consent form in two years of being a nurse. He is loved by everyone. Side note he's also a musician how cool is that?!   This man is fantastic... my only complaint is that he didn't give me a boob job while he was at it :) 

Nurse Dot ~ sarcastic. hilarious. spunky. my favorite. I met Dot sitting on a bed completely naked except for some plastic wrap on my torso and some plastic baggies covering my IVs.  Earlier in the day I had gotten permission to shower [this was before the emergency chest tube was placed]. My friend Kylie and I decided that we would never mind checking again if I could... so we waited til change of shift and then quickly took off my heart monitor and got me all wrapped up... AND then Dot walked in - busted :) I had the pleasure of having Dot as my nurse for several nights. I loved every conversation with her - her lectures about what I could not do after surgery [this woman kind of scared me] and all her nursing stories and just chatting about life. Dot was a stinker but so am I... which is why I think we got along so well :)   

Nurse Kathy Ann ~ chatty kathy. caring. busy bee. sweet. best discharge nurse. transparent. Kathy made sure she connected with not only me but also with my family. She hunted me down in the hospital while I was having an echocardiogram done so she could give me pain medication so we didn't get behind. She spent over an hour going through discharge instructions and answering questions. i LOVED that she didn't even use the discharge sheets... she just talked to us [i know that sounds like a no brainer but it's easy to forget the simple things in nursing]. Great tip from her... the Target brand baby hair and body wash is great for washing incisions. 

There were sooo many other individuals who contributed to my wonderful experience... I could not have done it without them. Lacy who took away my fentanyl PCA pump because apparently I was a little trigger happy right after surgery. Nate who [happily I might add] insisted I get out of bed a second time even though the first time I had my blood pressure tanked, I puked, and felt like I was going to pass out. Bob the physician's assistant who was so helpful throughout the entire stay. The doctor who placed my emergency chest tube. The nurse who gave me Milk of Magnesia, Miralax, and a suppository all so I could poop. And so many others... 

Thank you!!!

anywho I've been a nurse for two years and was beginning to experience some burnout. when I was in school I really thought that there was no way I would ever get worn out... at least not two years after becoming a nurse. But the rules and regulations and the politics and the stress of the job really do take a toll. Being a patient though made me realize WHY I wanted to be a nurse and WHY I love being a nurse - making a difference in someone's life. I am so grateful to each person who cared for me... they reminded me that patients are my passion. As I said before I love cardiac and I love people... being a nurse is the perfect way to combine these two passions. Being a patient reminded me that the little things matter. a smile. a hug. a joke. an encouragement. making a connection.

"my work is not about changing a world I cannot change. it's about touching the lives that touch mine in a way that will make a difference"


  1. I loved being there to see all of this! I love you!
    Annnnndd this blog rocks :) :)

  2. Thanks Aaron... couldn't have done it without you :) love you a little!!!

  3. Anonymous19.6.13

    You are one amazing lady, LeeAnn! Lots of encouragement in your last paragraph too ;) I have only been a nurse for a few months now, and I can already see how wearing the rules, chaos, and millions of things we see on a day to day basis can be. On the other hand, we all need to remember that we are fortunate to have the very special ability to say that we truly make a difference to someone every single day, no matter how large or small. What a unique perspective from the patient's side this time around ;) you are a fabulous nurse and I can only image how this experience will continue to enhance your care (hard to believe that it can be more than it already is I am sure!) I really enjoyed reading your blog :)

    Becky Kafka


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