Tea Tastes Better in a Teacup

by Cindy (Engelman) Schoeneck - 1979

A woman in her late 60's developed pancreatitis from gallstones and was admitted to the ICU in septic shock and respiratory failure. She was placed on the ventilator for a couple of weeks and when she was finally extubated, she was too weak to feed herself. We spoon fed her for several days and never once did she complain about anything. One day, as I was setting up her meal, she asked me if I could put her hot tea in a teacup because "it just didn't taste good in a styrofoam cup." I brought in a porcelain tea set from home the next day and we had a tea party. It made her so happy. She was eventually transferred to the step-down unit and later discharged home. I would see her from time to time when I was out shopping and she would always stop and give me a hug. She reminded me that it's the little things that people remember.

Rattlesnake Awakening

In the springtime when the weather gets warmer, rattlesnakes come out and warm themselves in the sun. During this time, they are sluggish and people need to be extra careful not to step on them. One spring morning, a woman who owned a home on Roper Mountain S.Car. spied a rattlesnake sunning against the sliding glass door just off her home's kitchen. That night when she went to bed, she felt something in between the sheets. Thinking that the rattlesnake had gotten inside her house, she grabbed up all the linens on her bed and headed to the ER. (She knew that we would need the snake to identify what kind of snake it was and to administer the correct anti-venom.) When she arrived to the ER, she gave the wad of bed linens to the triage nurse who passed it on to another staff member to retrieve the snake. We had her go back to an examination room to be examined. I did not see an apparent wound on any of her extremities and we waited until the snake could be identified. The orderly hit the bed linen with a hammer until he was sure that the snake was dead and then opened the linens. A bathrobe belt was the only thing inside the linens so we discharged the woman home. No snakebite this time.

Transplant Cascade

One day we performed what the GOR staff called an "organ transplant cascade". It started with one donor who donated all of his organs after he died in a automobile accident. At that time, lung transplants were not technically possible and gut transplants were not performed yet. The donor's heart and both lungs were transplanted as a block into a young man with cystic fibrosis. The heart of the young man with cystic fibrosis was not affected by the cystic fibrosis so his heart was transplanted into an older gentleman needing a heart transplant. At the same time that these surgeries were happening, the donor's liver was given to a young woman with primary biliary cirrhosis. One of the donor's kidneys and his pancreas went to a young diabetic man with renal failure and his other kidney went to a woman. They harvested his corneas, his femurs and some of his dura for surgeries requiring those donor tissue transplantation. In all, the OR was busy doing organ transplant surgeries for over two days straight. Today, "cascade transplant" refers to a kidney transplant network involving multiple donors and multiple kidney transplant recipients.