I made a bond with a patient we shall call T. Patient T came in for an esophagectomy and removal of the stomach. He has been through three J tube placements, and last week, on one of my days with him, he developed a huge leak around the 3rd tube, as he had with the first two. Large amounts of tube-feed BM seeping out and all over his skin. He was miserable. I was miserable. It was a Sunday and the thoracic surgery team was being manned by everyone's LEAST favorite resident. I was upset by their response but I didn't know what to do about it, either.
In the afternoon, the leak progressed to a constant gushing of acidic fluid and BM. I went upstairs to the GI floor and got ostomy supplies, and attached an ostomy bag around his tube's insertion site. For this I was pronounced a hero by his wife. Patient T texted his whole family to tell them that for the first time all day, he wasn't covered in goop. It was a victory for everyone, but it also allowed me to measure the output, which up until now the team had been pooh-poohing. His tube feeds were stopped, a dophoff tube was surgically placed, and he is now being evaluated for a small bowel obstruction. ALL of which I had suggested in the morning!
I have grown close to him and his family during the weeks he's spent here. Even though he wasn't my patient yesterday, I stopped in and did a cervical dressing change for him. I know that this is why I went into nursing- the ability to really play a major role in someone's healthcare, in the way they get through their day.