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Social Media Summit Scholarship Essay – Debbie H. Lamoreux

Posted by @joycegroenke, Aug 15, 2011

Editor’s Note: This is an entry in our Scholarship Contest for Patients and Caregivers to attend the Mayo Clinic Social Media Summit Oct. 17-21 in Rochester, Minn. See this post:

for more details on the contest, and please cast your votes by liking or commenting on the candidates you think would be best.

Here is Debbie Lamoreux’s Essay:

In 2008, I graduated from a BSN program as a non-traditional student. In school, I learned nursing assessments, interventions, and medication administration. Nursing instructors challenged me to stretch beyond physical assessments by assessing mind, body, and spirit. Three years and two medical mission trips later, my nursing practice synthesizes mind, body, and spirit.

March 2009, I created a blog documenting my medical mission trip to Honduras. Since that day, my journal evolved from a travel blog to sharing my personal joys and struggles as I matured as a nurse. Through email and facebook connections, several graduate and undergraduate nursing schools added my blog to their students’ reading list. As an advanced practice nurse, I challenge nursing students to assess mind, body, and spirit. Read an excerpt from of one of many stories shared from an orthopedic/neurology unit of a 300-bed hospital.

On the first morning I met Clara* she sat up in bed with her eyes tightly closed. I began my nursing assessment by asking her name and birthday. She responded appropriately then firmly stated she was in Taco Bell.

“Clara, open your eyes and look at me. My name is Debbie. I’m your nurse until 7:30 tonight. You are in the hospital.”

“I know I’m in Taco Bell because I can see out the big windows.”

I listened to her lungs, heart, abdomen, and palpated pulses. Next, I changed the dressing on her neck. Finally, I pressed play on the CD player at her bedside. A Blues tune filled the air.

“I really like this music.” Clara said with a contented smile.

Forty-five minutes later the halls echoed with her cries of pain as the pain medication wore off. She argued with each step as I ambulated her to the bathroom.

“I can’t walk. I can’t walk.”

“Keep walking. Keep walking.”

We both sighed with relief when she dropped down on the toilet.

After administering pain medication, she slipped into a deep sleep. I stood for a few moments watching her and the continuous pulse ox monitoring her oxygen level and pulse.

The next day, I joined the neurologist at her bedside. I directed his attention to her inert arms. Due to her inability to lift her arms and grasp anything, her daughter assisted her with meals. Prior to her initial surgery, she refused a MRI. The neurologist suggested
the diagnostic testing again. This time she agreed to submit to lying flat on a hard table and entering a large tunnel-shaped scanner to assess the damage to her neck.

A couple of hours later, her bottom lip trembled and she took a deep breath as I gently guided her from bed to wheelchair. She maintained her composure only long enough to ride down the elevator. As I wheeled her down the long hallway from the south to the north end of the hospital, she screeched and wailed. I stopped several times to re-adjust her body and tuck her pillow around her neck. When I arrived at the MRI department, I emptied my scrub top pockets and refused to leave the patient. Over the next hour, I patted her lower extremities as a mother pats a baby’s bottom to quiet and calm the baby. I praised her efforts to remain calm and unmoving as the loud machine scanned and obtained images.

I wish I could share the images of Clara’s neck. The fluid filled spinal cord stopped at the top of her shoulders and extended to the base of her head like a deflated balloon. A fist-like protrusion pushed into the damaged cervical spine. Two days later, she returned to the operating room.

One reader of stated, “Some caregivers distance themselves from seeing the patient from every angle. Debbie sees a whole life in front of her.” Many of my facebook readers are caregivers. When they grow weary, they read my blog and it encourages them to pause and view their circumstances from a holistic perspective. Nursing students and graduate nurses embrace the internet’s social media as a more accessible and interactive forum. Participating in Mayo Clinic’s Social Media Summit provides an opportunity for me to incorporate other forms of social media and encourage others with my stories.


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