Friday, May 17, 2013

TING AND I, Tribute to Tina Su Cooper from Nurse Terry Bush

As she explains below, Terry Bush, LPN, was hired in early February as an over-qualified home health aide. She was a nurse who needed a time-out from the stress of nursing. Shortly thereafter, Tina had an MS attack with an accompanying aspiration pneumonia that nearly killed her. Terry became our on-the-spot representative in Tina’s hospital room for much of each day. When Tina came home, Terry came with her and worked with us as a nurse until the fall. We were delighted to have her, fell in love with her, and missed her greatly when she had to leave because she was allergic to the flu shot proteins. (We enforce our flu shot requirements without exception.) She remains a dear friend.

Working as a private duty nurse with ventilator-dependent patients can take its toll, emotionally and physically. Making the decision to work as a home health aide for a while, I answered an ad in a local newspaper. The listing, which requested someone to help with cooking, cleaning, and personal care of a woman, sounded just like what I was looking for.

I called and was scheduled to meet Tina and Doug Cooper the following evening. I was informed that Tina had MS with limited mobility, but fully capable in other areas. Unexpectedly, Doug asked if I would give Tina a full bed bath while I was there, not as a part of the interview, but as a favor. I agreed, although nervous, never having met them.

The next evening I met two of the nicest people in the world. They were polite, considerate, and welcomed me into their home. Spending personal time with Tina was special as we talked about our families and ourselves. I felt truly blessed when I was asked to come back.

Tina was sweet, and we became friends almost immediately. We shared stories, listened to music, and laughed together, all while I performed the duties I was hired to do. This was just the restful break I was seeking–but not for long.

One week later, Tina was lying in a hospital bed with pneumonia. Doug spent day and night by her bedside, hoping the doctors’ predictions were incorrect. Not wanting to leave Tina alone, but needing his own rest, Doug asked if I minded changing my position as home health aide to Tina’s private assistant in her hospital room. Although this was closer to nursing than I had been wanting, I already cared too deeply for this special lady to walk away.

I don’t recall the medical details, but I do remember the tears in our eyes as Doug and I watched Tina’s health worsen day by day. She was not expected to live through the night several times. But God had other plans. After weeks of hopes and disappointments, Tina returned home, dependent on her ventilator for every breath of life.

More nurses were hired, and round-the-clock care had begun. Doug was not a nurse, by license, but he was honored and respected as head nurse by all of us. He scheduled, provided medical supplies, and became mediator between doctor and patient. But the care he provided did not end there. His love for his wife went much deeper … so much deeper.

I had heard the love story of Tina and Doug. How they met in college and fell in love, how life separated them from each other, and how miraculously they were reunited many years later. Although their lives had taken different paths, they were destined to be together. This lasting love and devotion for each other sustains them today.

Tina trusted the ability of the nurses as professionals, but her ultimate faith and trust was in her husband. She knew he was overseeing every aspect of her care. He kept her aware of changes in her health, doctors’ orders, and staff. He worked right beside the nurses and could perform any and all duties himself.

He provided Tina with a wheelchair and a lift to transfer her from the bed to the wheelchair and back again. Every day Tina sat in the cheerful kitchen to visit with him, or on the front porch facing the lake and flower bed. Tina felt Doug’s love surrounding her in everything he did for her, in the words he spoke to her, and most of all, in the looks of compassion and devotion he bestowed on her.

Being Tina’s nurse was a blessing–a double blessing. Performing medical procedures and care is what I enjoy, and doing it for such a loving person makes it more enjoyable. (I guess my week-long break as home health aide was all I was meant to have.) Tina was very fragile when she first came home. Her needs were many–ventilator-dependent, unable to speak, tube-fed, unable to eat or drink by mouth, needing physical therapy to keep her joints pliable (causing pain no matter how gently it was done), and given medication on schedule day and night, interrupting the little sleep she was able to find amidst all the new noises and activity in her room.

While her body remained fragile, Tina’s spirit grew strong. (Her complaining consisted of a frown on her face.) She withstood the changes in her health condition with the attention she received from the nurses, each one caring for her as a friend as well as a patient.

Tina received compassion from all around her–staff, friends, family–but she gave back so much more. Tina demonstrated her compassion for each person in her smiles, her listening ear, and in her obvious enjoyment of one’s company.

My getting to know Tina is one of the greatest blessings of my life. I will forever be grateful for the opportunity given to me to be part of Tina and Doug’s lives and to have them be part of mine.

No comments:

Post a Comment