It has been my dream since the age of five to be a healthcare provider. I always saw myself as a doctor and that is still in my career goals. My love and passion for medicine grew out of the love and compassion for my pediatrician. He was very personable and would answer any questions I had.
My parents say I was always inquisitive and asked the doctor lots of questions that I would have from reading. Upon completion of high school, I enrolled in college and majored in nursing. I excelled as a nursing major and enjoyed all my classes. Each day in the hospital during my clinical rotation was like a dream come true. I showed my patients the same compassion and concern that my pediatrician showed me.
Of all the patients I encountered during my years in the nursing profession nothing compares to the moment I had to become my grandmother’s healthcare advocate. It was a cold February evening when my grandmother called to say she wasn’t feeling well. Upon arriving to her home, I noticed her oxygen levels were below 90 and that she appeared weak. I immediately gathered her things and took her to the hospital. Upon arriving at the hospital, we had to wait before being triaged. During the triage time I stated to the intake aid that my grandmother’s oxygen level was low. They made us wait another two hours, my grandmother was becoming weaker, and I was becoming frustrated that they were not providing my loved one medical attention.
With my patience growing short and my concern for my grandmother’s health increasing, I decided to use my nursing credentials to try to expedite the services. I told the receptionist that I was a nurse and that I had checked my grandmother’s oxygen levels which was under 90. I further shared with them her other health issues, such as diabetes and hypertension, and my concern that she may have COVID-19. Upon advocating for my grandmother, they immediately took her back for observation and my worst nightmare was confirmed. My grandmother was diagnosed with bronchitis, pneumonia, and yes, COVID-19.
I had worked long hours on the front lines for the past year encouraging other families who had received the COVID-19 diagnosis to be encouraged and prayerful. Now that COVID-19 had infiltrated the body of my grandmother, I was fearful and anxious as I knew what the outcome could be. She had previously shared with us that if she became worse, we shouldn’t resuscitate nor leave her on a machine. My grandmother remained in the hospital for three weeks until her gentle passing. The one thing my family found comfort in was that the treating nursing staff allowed us to visit with her prior to her passing.
I continue to wonder what would have been my grandmother’s outcome had I advocated for her to be seen earlier during our three-hour emergency room wait, or if she would have passed sooner had I not advocated at all. What happens with families who do not know how to advocate for their loved one’s healthcare? Why should we have to advocate for our loved ones? Why can’t each healthcare professional treat every patient as if it was their own family member?
That was one patient that I’ll never forget and one who cheered me on to be a healthcare professional.