Patient undergoing amputation gets once last dance

Photo credit: Mark Harmel/Photo Researchers, Inc.
Photo credit: Mark Harmel/Photo Researchers, Inc.

My most memorable patient was a 72-year-old man who was admitted to the hospital with a diabetic foot ulcer. He was scheduled for a possible below-the-knee amputation, and I was blessed to be his night-shift nurse. I went into his room to prep him that night and found him tearful. I sat down on the bed to talk with him, and he told me that the thing that he was going to hate most about losing his leg was not being able to dance anymore. He said that he loved country music and that he and his wife, who passed away from cancer just a year prior, used to love dancing. Although he hadn't done much dancing since she passed, he told me that just knowing he would be unable to do something that the both of them enjoyed so much broke his heart.

I excused myself from his room, telling him that I would be right back, and sprang into action. First, I went to my boss's office, where I knew there was a CD player and a stash of country music. Then I went straight to the nurses' station to tell my coworkers of my patient's story.

I easily recruited four nurses to help me on my quest, and we all proudly marched down the hall, CDs and CD player in tow, right back to the patient's room. I walked in the room and carefully pushed his bed and all other furniture against the wall.  My coworkers turned up the music, and we all took turns dancing around the room with this patient. He laughed and cried with joy, as did all of us. He was so thankful for the time we took to offer him one last spin around the “dance floor,” and we were all grateful to provide him with a little joy.

Moments like this validate my reason for not only becoming a nurse 18 years ago, but for continuing my education today to become a family nurse practitioner. Being able to touch another human being and make a difference is what this job and life, are all about.

Tell us about your most memorable patient by December 15, 2010, and you'll be eligible to win an Apple iPad!

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