As I compile these stories, we are nearing the end of National Nurses Week 2018. My hope is that people will continue to send me stories of nurses who made a difference in their lives long after this week is over. Because the work that nurses do is neverending and so should be our gratitude.

Nurse with Jen's newborn daughter

NICU nurse with Jen’s daughter

For most of my life, I’ve never given much thought to nurses. Luckily, I’d been in good health and never had to spend any time in the hospital— until my daughter was born three months early. Then, I saw a lot of nurses.

There were nurses who took care of me before I gave birth, for those few days when it looked like I might just need bedrest. Those women (it was all women, in my experience) made sure I was comfortable, adjusted the monitors on my belly, and yes, gave me whatever shots the doctor prescribed. They also brought me many, many popsicles.

I must say that not every nurse was stellar. In fact, the nurse in the birth room was, quite possibly, the worst nurse I could have had in that most vulnerable of times. I only mention this because it gave me a greater appreciation for all the others who did their jobs competently and, often, with great empathy and kindness.

Once my daughter was born (weighing three pounds and four ounces), I got to meet the Neo-natal Intensive Care Unit, or NICU, nurses. These nurses monitored my girl around-the-clock, making sure the temperature and conditions of her incubator were comfortable and safe. They advocated for her best interests when the doctors made their rounds.

The nurses in NICU also showed me how to swaddle that tiny baby into bust-proof burritos and how to “kangaroo.” (Look it up. It’s the best!) As my daughter grew bigger and stronger, they showed me how to bathe her, burp her, and feed her. By the time we took her home, I was a pro.

I spent six weeks in the hospital watching dozens of nurses at work, and I am forever grateful for what they did for me and my family. I remember bringing doughnuts or other food to the nurses’ station to express my gratitude. It wasn’t a big gesture, but it was what I could muster at the time. I’m writing this now to say thank you to all of the nurses who do their best, even on their worst days. Thank you, Jen Boggs


Jennifer Fitzpatrick/nurse story

Jennifer at Bar Island in Acadia

When I read your request for thanking a special nurse, a couple of faces immediately popped into my mind. I had a serious accident nearly 10 years ago. I had superb care at MMC, New England Rehab and with VNA Home Health and I am eternally grateful to my health care providers, my docs, my nurses, my aides, my therapists … the cast of characters is large!

There were two nurses during my recovery that still occupy a little corner of my heart. The first was my ‘night nurse’ at New England Rehab, where I spent a week. Her name was Gloria. She was about my age, shortish white hair, a soothing voice, soft hands, and a kind soul. Many nights, while I was lying wide awake, scared, and hurting, Gloria would come and sit by my bedside and talk with me while softly caressing my hand. She would tell me stories about her family and be interested in my family, she would tell me about her day and the weather outside, she would chuckle at funny things that had happened, but most of all she let me know that I was not alone and I was going to be okay. I received comfort and strength from Gloria.

The second nurse that I am eternally grateful to is Rachel Deans, RN, a graduate of the Mercy School of Nursing and a long since retired Mercy nurse who was also a volunteer with Mercy and VNA programs. She learned of my accident through her daughter Leah Davis in Radiology and immediately began a one-woman effort to cheer me up. I believe she sent cards nearly every week of my recovery, encouraging me to be strong and to keep up the good work, chatting a bit about her week, reminding me that I was loved by other than my family, and convincing me that one day the accident would all be a distant memory … I was going to be better than okay!  I received love, encouragement, and support from Rachel; I now eagerly look for her annual photo Christmas card and letter!

These two compassionate and caring nurses will always own a little piece of my heart!  From Jennifer Fitzpatrick


Deb Monck, registered nurse

Deb Monck receiving a nursing award

I want to give Deb Monck, a master’s prepared nurse who has achieved three national certifications, been in the profession for greater than 20+ years, and continues to make a difference at the bedside each and every shift she works a shout out this nurses week at LincolnHealth in Damariscotta. Deb is the epitome of nursing. She is truly an ACE: She gives shares her knowledge with her peers and seek access to resources for both nurses and patients. Next, credentialing — she has achieved numerous certifications that validate her knowledge and practice at the bedside, and finally education. Deb is a committed lifelong learner, leading by example achieving her MSN

What I admire about Deb is she is never just a nurse. She never settled for being someone who only came in and did her job and left. She makes a difference each and every day. She is a charge nurse who participated in a project that moves patients through the system efficiently, and with her leadership, our throughput times have decreased to less than 30 minutes.

Deb precepts new nurses and we all recognize the need for new nurses to come into our profession. She builds upon their education and prepares them to handle the challenge that nursing gives them once off orientation. Her mentorship doesn’t end with their orientation, she is often their resource they continue to use to help them navigate healthcare!

Finally her patients — they just love her. She conveys a sense of calm and trust when they are in her care. Patients often comment that she is truly the best. I share their sentiment — Deb Monck is one of the best and I am so happy I have the honor of working with her. Best Regards, Beth Kessler MSN, Nurse Manager Med/Surg ICU, LincolnHealth


Diane with nurses Lauren and Elizabeth

L-R Lauren, Diane and Elizabeth

In 2014, my yearly mammogram revealed a clump of calcifications that turned out to be DCIS or ductal carcinoma in situ, also referred to as Stage O breast cancer. I opted for a lumpectomy as my course of treatment.

On the day of the surgery, which was done at Mercy Hospital, I was scared, but trying hard not to let anyone know. Lauren was my pre and post op nurse. She was kind, compassionate, professional, and reassuring, not only to me, but also my husband and sister.

Before the surgery, I had to go to the radiology department to have a fine wire inserted in my breast at the site of the calcifications to help guide the surgeon. As I stood against the x-ray machine and felt the pressure of the wire, I started to cry — quietly. I don’t think I’ve ever felt so vulnerable in all my life. In a split second, Elizabeth Huebener was at my side, asking if I was ok and reassuring me that it would be over soon, they were nearly done.

Elizabeth is one of the wonderful nurses at Breast Care Specialists of Maine. She had wheeled me over from the OR, stayed with me during the procedure, and wheeled me back for the surgery. I don’t remember the coming and going, but I will never forget how quickly and lovingly she appeared at my side to give me comfort. It made all the difference. From Diane Atwood


Sally Loughridge Busch/nurse story

Sally Loughridge Busch (Author of Rad Art)

I have no pictures, but I have so many memories and images in my mind of compassionate and professional nurses, including as you did, of Elizabeth Huebener at Mercy Hospital when I had breast cancer in 2010. I had surgery and radiation. Nursing empathy, in word and touch, and expertise helped me feel safe in a very scary situation.

Since then, I have several other scary situations in which nurses comforted and helped take care of me. In 2016 I had a stroke while I was driving and a subsequent catastrophic auto accident which led to multiple broken bones, including my neck, a paralyzed leg, and cervical surgery. I was delirious for several weeks before I became aware of my situation, but know that I was well cared for by EMTs, the Life Flight crew, and the professionals at Central Maine Medical Center for the over five and a half weeks I was there.

Among the nurses, I remember a wonderful gentle nurse, but unfortunately not her name, who welcomed me to the inpatient rehab unit with warm smiles and a patient ear when I was still disoriented, scared, in great pain, and unable to walk. My gratitude to, and respect for, nurses is huge! From Sally Loughridge Busch


Lindsay Luetje with her husband and newborn twins/public health nursing

Lindsay Luetje with her husband and newborn twins

My twins were born four weeks early and they spent 18 days in NICU. We came home and they were healthy, but there’s a lot of stress with that. They were five pounds and the doctors wanted us to have them checked every week. It’s not really an awesome thing to take a newborn into a doctor’s office with lots of germs. And it’s also not very easy to take two newborns. Packing them up and getting to the doctor’s office and doing exams and being able to do a breastfeeding.

All that’s very stressful and being a new mom compounds it. And so when they asked would you like to have a public health nurse come to you so they can be checked, we said absolutely. And when Sarah DeCato came to the door she was just like this angel. She was so kind and so resourceful. It didn’t occur to me at the time, as much as afterward how much she was checking on the babies and me as well. She put my mind at ease. From Lindsay Luetje


Send more stories about nurses who make a difference

Thanks to everyone who shared a story. If you have one to add, you can send it to me at diane@dianeatwood.com.