Nurses routinely help patients to heal physically. Sometimes their caring gestures touch souls, as well. Two recent examples to share during this, National Nurses Week:
A special birthday
Kellie Corrigan was turning 51 on Nov. 11 and was hospitalized again — as she was periodically since the age of 13 when she was diagnosed with myasthenia gravis.
Nurse Patricia King, the clinical case manager who routinely coordinated Corrigan’s discharge needs, baked a carrot cake with cream cheese frosting. She arranged for the hospital kitchen to provide a shrimp dinner. And she rounded up staff to sing at the appointed time.
Corrigan had not been feeling well. She had visitors including her father, Jack and an aunt and cousin. A nurse came into the room saying the lights needed to be dimmed, and no one thought anything of it. Then the Corrigan family heard the Happy Birthday song, and King walked into the room carrying the cake with candles. Behind her came a cart with the special dinner.
“It was set up so beautifully,” Mr. Corrigan recalls. “I mean, this took some thought. Everything was set up like we were in a five-star restaurant.”
He remembers doctors and other staff trickling through Corrigan’s room, wishing her well and taking small squares of cake. “I couldn’t get over it. I was trying to be that macho ‘men don’t cry’ guy, but I teared up like crazy. I couldn’t get over it.”
King had no way of knowing this would be Corrigan’s last birthday, her last hospital stay. Corrigan died Dec. 15 at home in Camillus.
“My motto is ‘create a difference in someone’s life each day.’ Luckily, I had that chance to make a difference in hers,” says King.
A special Valentine’s Day
Tim and Susan Daly of Owasco were set to enjoy their first date night since becoming parents. It was Sept. 10, the Saturday after their youngest daughter started kindergarten, and the girls, ages 6 and 8, were spending the night at their grandfather’s house.
With steaks sizzling on the grill, Tim Daly stepped indoors to find that Susan Daly was feeling ill. When he checked a second time, her arm was stiff. Then she threw up.
Doctors at Upstate determined that Daly had two aneurysms. Complications developed during her first surgery, and Daly remains hospitalized. Her husband used up his sick time to be by her side every day for five months. He sold their Chevy Tahoe for a vehicle with better gas mileage because of the hospital commute.
Valentine’s Day was hectic for him. He had made sure to stop for flowers on his way to Upstate. He wasn’t prepared for what he saw when he opened the door to his wife’s room late that afternoon.
“She was all dressed up, sitting in a chair,” he recalls, his voice breaking. Susan Daly’s face lit up. She wore earrings and a necklace, a dress and even shoes. Her hair was in a bow, and her room was decorated for Valentine’s Day. A small table held a Red Lobster dinner for two. A “do not disturb” sign had been fashioned for the door.
And then a hospital choir began singing “Love Me Tender.”
The Dalys have been married 16 years. Tim Daly would like to thank the nurses — Caitlin Alvin, Shannan Morrissey and Jeff Jenkusky — who provided them with the most memorable of date nights.