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Thank You, My Mentor


Thank You, My Mentor

I can still vividly remember that day from nine months ago when I experienced going from frustration to confidence. The handover report of one patient—Liu Yun (a pseudonym) from the night shift nurse with an exhausted voice drew a deep breath out of my mentor Du Jianli and me. Liu, diagnosed with lung cancer and liver cancer, yet whose primary cancer still remained unknown, was referred to our hospital two days ago from another local hospital. Fevers repeatedly racked Liu’s body with temperatures soaring up to 38.5℃ (101.3 °F). Liu and his family members were very demanding. They pulled the call bell constantly for very little things and were always very irritable and agitated with a high level of anxiety.


Caring for a patient like this, whose family members are also demanding, is one situation that I’m the most afraid of. Just as I wondered how I could make it through the day as his primary nurse, Du Jianli—the team leader, gently put her hand on my shoulder and said so calmly as if she had already seen through me, “Let’s go together to the bedside and check on Liu Yun.”


At Liu’s bedside she said, “I heard that you had a very rough night and did not sleep well, right? I’m sorry for that. How are you feeling now? Is there anything I could do for you?” As Du talked, she put her hand gently on Liu’s shoulder, leaning forward as if she was talking to a dear friend. Liu struggled to open his eyes as he heard the gentle voice, but then quickly closed them again. It seemed like opening his eyes took so much strength that he had to take a rest. “Still having a fever?” Du asked as she reached her hand to his forehead. "You sweat a lot. I know that our night nurse has helped you change your gowns. Do you want me to give you a rub bath and help you change into clean clothes?" Liu was very frail, but he nodded his head. As we helped change Liu’s gown, Du did not stop talking, mainly to encourage Liu and his family members, who did not show much friendliness. Right after putting Liu to sleep, his family asked with agonized faces, “When will our doctor come to see us? We’ve been waiting forever!”


Du then led the family member (Wang, Liu’s niece) outside and looked at her full of compassion, “We nurses and the physicians are very concerned about his situation. We just went through his lab and tests results and the doctor in charge will definitely come to see him in a while. I will call and ask him to come a little bit earlier, OK?” Wang nodded as she released her distrust. Du held Wang’s hands and asked what she thought about Liu’s disease (including things like what to do next). Wang could not hold back her tears, and started crying, “We want him to be alive again. He is only 63.We want him back at any cost. We will do anything that is good for him…” Du held Wang as she cried and said, “Your doctor may come and talk with you later. I think what you need to do now is to calm yourself down and be a support for Liu, OK? Please don’t hesitate to let me know if you need anything.”


The doctor, after talking with the families, prescribed palliative care, which is another thing I’m not good at. Du backed me up by saying, “It’s ok if you don’t know how to do it. You may go back and learn more about it. Today, we are going to care for Liu together. I’ll show you.” My nervousness gradually disappeared as Du and I provided the care needed for Liu.


Later on, as we passed by the conference room where the doctor was talking with the family we overheard that Wang still could not accept the fact that Liu was dying. Du later, found Wang and led her to a small room near the nurses’ station, where she could have some private time. She handed Wang some tissues and started comforting her. Du pointed to a plant with fading flower and said, “That’s just like us. Everyone has his/her own fate. If this time is meant to be his last few days, isn’t it more meaningful to be with him and help him fulfill his wishes instead of being so distressed?  Your being there means so much more to him…”


The patient chose to go home for his last days and finish the things he wanted. On the day of his discharge, Wang walked to the nursing station with a “Thank you” card for Du, who had been a friend and supporter for her.


I was so impressed not only by what Du did for her patient, but also by how she delivered the care. I’ve learned so much from her, including peer support and palliative care. She is the one who demonstrated how to comfort and communicate with patients in practice. She is my role model. I hope someday I can be a nurse as good as she is.


I would like to say “Thank you” to my mentor—Ms Du Jianli.

From 1-9F Respiratory Unit