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Just an Ordinary Day

Laura Miller, BSRN, CPN, CPHON

It began as an ordinary shift, caring for my patients. I was working on the oncology/bone marrow transplant unit and loved this aspect of my career. The day was paced in the usual way for the oncology unit. That was until one of my colleagues asked for help discharging a patient. Then, everything changed.

A preceptor nurse was training a new nurse and asked me for help. The needed assistance was due to a joint oversight a new nurse can make. The preceptor asked me to help with discharge teaching, which included the necessary education and documentation.

A Quick Backstory

In the early days of raising our son Nathan (our adopted son), we had some contact with his birth aunt, Nakia, who had been willing to take Nathan in, except for her complicated life situation. But, she had an interest in Nathan’s well-being. Finally, a day came when we lost contact – her phone was no longer connected, and her apartment was empty. For several years, I attempted to track Nakia off and on without success.

Our expectation of experiencing a normal, well-adjusted childhood with Nathan, due to our pouring love and nurturing into his life, was validated during his early childhood years. Nathan flourished as a child, mentally, socially, and especially athletically.

Nathan hitting his pre-teen and pre-adolescent years brought a change to our relationship. We were introduced to a new term: Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD), which described many facets of the change that we were seeing. The change that we experienced indicated that he had never fully bonded with us as his family. Though we attempted to help him maneuver through the issues of identity, neglect, and abandonment as an infant, his acting out through his teen years demonstrated the profound impact of his early months of life years later. These issues continue to color our relationship.

As his high school graduation approached, Nathan expressed, for the first time, a desire to connect with his birth family. However, our attempts to locate his birth family came up empty. We were hard-pressed even to find Aunt Nakia, let alone his birth parents. On the eve of this “ordinary day,” I commented to a family member that I needed to intensify my search to find Nathan’s birth family. Little did I know.

Back to the Main Story

Now, 24 hours later, I’ve been asked to help discharge a patient on my scheduled shift.

I would ordinarily not have been involved with discharging this patient. However, their discharge process had become somewhat derailed, so I was asked to step in, which I was happy to do. I had been peripherally aware of this patient and her family, even to the point of being drawn to them in passing, but I knew nothing specifically about them.

I conducted the discharge teaching, playfully interacting with this precious teen patient. As I finished the teaching, I asked the mother to sign the required paperwork. When she handed the papers back, I glanced down at the signature. There, I was stopped dead in my tracks. I looked back up to the mother and then to her signature. Before I could respond, the patient’s grandmother declared, “You’re Brashoun’s mother, aren’t you?” I was dumbfounded.

I asked the patient’s mother, “You’re Nakia, aren’t you? (pregnant pause in the room); I’ve been looking for you for 16 years!” I could hardly believe what was happening. I started to hyperventilate as we both made the connection. The Brashoun that they knew was our Nathan.

We were all overcome with emotion as we began hugging each other. As we got better acquainted in that hospital setting, we started sharing our common bond with Nathan. As I shared about Nathan's natural gifting, Nakia and the patient’s (Nathan’s!) grandmother drew parallels with Nathan’s birth father, Adam. They had much in common: school track records, football scholarships, and more. As we parted ways, Nakia vowed to help me connect with Adam.

Two weeks later, we welcomed Adam into our living room. He shared his life experiences and involvement at Nathan’s birth. He had lived a hard life but was seeing that life redeemed itself by a new-found faith.

Nathan heard these words from Adam, “Son, I have always loved you. I was told a story about what happened to you I now know wasn’t true. What I was told was a lie.” The powerful words spoken by his birth father seemed to unlock a locked-up place in Nathan’s heart. He encouraged Nathan to live a life with good choices, not to follow the path he had walked. There was indeed the discovery of a father-son bond that day.

Subsequently, Nathan has connected with his birth mom and other siblings.

A side story is about the new nurse who had made an error that caused the delay in the discharge. In oncology, it is essential to heparinize the port with 300 units/milliliter before de-accessing. This is a common step for an experienced nurse, but it is easy to overlook for a new nurse. With the omission of this vital step, the patient had to be re-accessed to heparinize the port until subsequent access. The delay in discharge was inconvenient for the family but a divine appointment for others. The astute preceptor comforted this distraught new nurse to show her that things worked out! And this new nurse will probably never forget to heparinize the port again.

About the Author:

Laura Miller has been a pediatric nurse for nearly 40 years, most of her career at a local pediatric hospital, providing bedside care in pediatric intensive care, cardiac, trauma, and neonatal intensive care, oncology, stem cell transplant, and acute care. She obtained the following certifications: CCRN, CPHON, and CPN. Laura has also served briefly as a school nurse. She is currently working on her Master of Nursing Education degree, which she plans to complete soon.

At home, Laura is a mother to nine children—four by birth and five through adoption from foster care—and ten grandchildren. During her spare time, Laura enjoys jogging, hiking, and having a meaningful life.

Laura is an independent contributor to CEUfast’s Nursing Blog Program. Please note that the views, thoughts, and opinions expressed in this blog post are solely of the independent contributor and do not necessarily represent those of CEUfast. This blog post is not medical advice. Always consult with your personal healthcare provider for any health-related questions or concerns.

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