Monday, October 17, 2011

A thank you letter I sent in June

What a thrill,

What a shock,

To be alive on a

morning in June….

-Michael Cunningham

My Dear Caregivers,

It has taken me so long to write this letter. It has been rolling around in my brain since I was a patient at both Franklin and Baystate in late February to early March this year.

I was so sick and so delirious during the beginning of my experience that I cannot speak about each wonderful provider who cared for me. Inconveniently, my dear husband has blocked the whole traumatic experience out of his mind, so he is no help when I try to mine for details of our harrowing experience.

I had an ear infection that had ruptured my ear drum the night before. That much we knew when I entered the ER at Franklin after I had become delirious with a fever of 105 that next morning. After a cat scan, a lumbar puncture, labs, antibiotics, IV fluids and I don’t know what else, I was getting worse. I could no longer remember my husband’s name. I did not remember my children’s names and was starting to lose the knowledge that I had children at all. Was it a brain tumor, meningitis, sepsis? Staff worked hard to find out what I was sick from and how to make me better.

Lindsey McCloud and Dr. Mike Dunkerly cared for me in the ED and I am so thankful for their great skill and compassionate concern. There were others, too, that I would like to thank, but I don’t know who they are. I do know that Dr Karen Scott and Kathy McLeon provided great care for me in the ICU at Franklin. I am forever grateful. Kathy was such a gentle yet strongly protective presence who I was very thankful to have accompany me in the ambulance to the Baystate ICU. I knew I was very sick. I knew my mother looked very frightened as they wheeled me away to the waiting ambulance.

I, thankfully, was in a place of great peace. I felt a bit puzzled by the same questions about names and dates and the moving from ER to ICU then to Baystate ICU, but I was not in pain anymore since my eardrum had ruptured at home the night before. What I felt throughout my stay, even when I was no longer delirious, was the skilled, tender and compassionate care given to me by every one of my caregivers. What a blessing! If you have not been cared for by loving and skilled people when you cannot care for yourself, then, let me tell you: It is a deeply moving experience that, in me, has fostered a feeling of great love and faith in the human race or at least in the wonderful humans I encountered during my hospital stay.

At Baystate ICU in Springfield I was cared for by wonderful nurse Mandy LaBrec who went out of her way to welcome my family and me into what could have been a scary new setting. Thank you to the many masked doctors who gently swamped me when I arrived at the ICU at Baystate at 3am. They were brightly awake and gently enthusiastic; working diligently to figure out what was going on and why I wasn’t stable after the antivirals, antibiotics, antifungals and fluids given to me throughout the day. Many many thanks to the brilliant infectious disease doctor Dr Eric Granowitz who was available in the middle of the night to discuss my care with Franklin doctors. Dr Granowitz also was there at Baystate to figure out I had a strep A ear infection that had spread into my bloodstream, creating a full blown sepsis. Dr Granowitz then calmly and with great intelligence, caring and humor explained what was going on to us each day as he methodically figured it out and I got better.

Once I was out of the woods and stable, I actually felt worse. Terrible nausea and vomiting overcame me during my stay on Springfield 2. Yuck. But my nurses there were lovely. They were busy, but so friendly; laughing through their entire 12 hour shifts. The aides were wonderful, too. Bathing me and getting me gingerale again and again when I could finally drink. Thank you Heidi, Victoria, Melissa, Kelly, Jen, Ana, Ashleigh, Dianna, Ed and Dunia

Thank you all from the bottom of my full heart.

I am so glad to be alive.

My family and friends are so grateful to you all that I am alive.

I feel a surprising residue from my journey throughout the Baystate Health System as a patient instead of my usual role of OB nurse at Franklin. I feel that I am meant to be here on this earth right now. The prayers and love of my friends and family kept me here, of course, but really, I am also still here as a direct result of the skill, attention and loving care from you who cared for me when I was gravely ill.

As my mother toasted at a belated Easter dinner, “Cheers to medical science and all of the amazing people who saved our Katherine!” It is humbling, but sweet, to feel so indebted to so many people, many of whom I cannot even remember. I hope you feel my thanks and know that through your kindness and skill you make a huge positive impact in the world. Every day.

I am thrilled to be here on a warm day in June.

I am so thankful to all of you

With Blessings, Love, and Respect,

Katherine Harris

cc: FMC ED, FMC ICU, Chuck Gijanto, BMC ICU, Springfield 2, Mark Tolosky

1 comment:

  1. OK, that makes me want to cry. Very nicely done and I'm definitely thankful you made it out of that scary forest!