Chapter 21: What else can we do to make you feel cared for today?


A great question

This is the white board question that jumps out at me in Don’s new room at the Duke Medicine Pavilion. My experience dealing with hospitals and medical staff is limited, but I have been impressed by all the caregivers since we got here on Wednesday.

The nurses and nurse assistants have been friendly, knowledgeable and professional – always wearing a smile and eager to help with whatever is needed. Response time/waiting has been minimal. The surgeon, Dr. Z, is no-nonsense while still being pleasant and always treating Don as a whole person and not just a diagnosis. There is also the entourage of 5-6 white coats that come through, usually with the surgeon; they are the Med students & residents. They gather outside the room and share the basics of Don’s case, and Dr. Z will quiz them a little. Then they come in, say hello, and observe as Dr. Z talks with Don.

There is one Med student, Brandon, who works closely with Dr. Z. He is a tall, baby-faced African-American who was in the OR during Don’s procedure and I guess is specifically assigned to Don (and probably a few other patients, I assume). He drops by a few times each day to say hello and check on Don. He is friendly and kind and seems genuinely interested in Don’s progress. He appeared in the new room (neuroscience ward) and was wondering what had happened for Don to land here. We had a chuckle with him when he realized all was well, it was just about bed space. Later that day I was heading to the cafeteria to grab some dinner and I bumped into him on the concourse. He recognized me, we chatted, and I learned that he has just started his 4th year of med school, so will graduate next May. I thanked him for all of his help. He warmly accepted my thanks and seemed to enjoy the interaction with me (i.e. patients/families of patients). I feel sure Brandon will be an excellent doctor one day and also I would be delighted if either of my kids grew up to be like him (caring and attentive)!

A few quick observations from the neuroscience ward: they didn’t have any urinals handy (the little jugs for men to pee in) and I wondered if it’s because most of the patients on that ward have catheters? Just a guess on my part, but this is where they treat patients with brain tumors, strokes or brain injuries, so I’m thinking they might be highly sedated and/or sleeping a lot. This would explain the nurse’s enthusiasm of having a patient like Don who was doing well, talking/answering questions, etc. I also noticed that the NA was not overly friendly, but she seemed to be good at her work. Don said she was very nice, but carried a sour expression on her face. I wondered if she was assigned to this ward b/c working with patients who were less interactive was a better fit for her? Ha ha. I’m weird; I like to think about these things. I did like her t-shirt: “Welcome to 8 West – where we have all the brains!”

Anyway, I don’t know if all hospitals are like this and I hope I don’t have reason to find out. But I can tell you that based on our experience here, Duke is doing things right. I may not ever cheer for their team, but I will gladly compliment their excellent medical care.

Sunday, June 18 – Breakout Day
Don came home today! Sundays at Duke Med are a ghost town so I had to do some maneuvering to get his scripts filled. Maneuvering means walk from the Medicine Pavilion to Duke Hospital to the Children’s Hospital to find the only pharmacy that is open on Sundays. It was no problem, but it is quite the hike! I think I have the floor plan mostly memorized now that we are leaving, of course. And when I got to the pharmacy, they had everything ready but one item, so I had to wait an hour so they could fill that. That gave me time to visit Starbucks and hang out in the Children’s Hospital lobby for a bit (ghost town, totally empty, which was awesome). Meanwhile, Don was eating his breakfast and getting dressed for our big breakout. We made it home about 12:45, just a few minutes after the boys had pulled away for Camp Cherokee (boy scout camp). But they did facetime with Don earlier this morning for Father’s Day, so that is good. I’m glad they were able to visit him in the hospital on Friday and Saturday.

Don is resting comfortably. Last time I checked on him…
Him: I’m trying really hard to turn on the TV.
Me: You want me to get it for you?
Him: No. I keep falling asleep, so I guess it’s not that important.

As we pulled into the driveway, he said, “Let the healing begin.” We are counting our blessings and grateful for all of the family and friends who have sent prayers, calls, texts, food, notes, etc. … we truly feel cared for!

A few pictures from the week, if you hover over the picture you’ll see a caption.

DonHosp18June2017 (3)

Grateful for the excellent care provided by Duke. Still gotta show my Tar Heel pride!


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