A Nurse Reflects
(Pediatric nurse Jamie Zanelli, RN, shares her thoughts on the care and progress of Wes Schlauch who was featured in the May/June 2011 issue of Sweet Charity .)
By Jamie Zanelli, RN
When Wes arrived, he brought a new set of challenges to a unit that was still growing and maturing itself. He was our very first ventilated patient. His medication regimen and his tube feeding schedule were hectic. His incredible height and his inability to move any extremities summoned at least two to three staff members each time he needed repositioning
Because of the tracheotomy tube in his throat, Wes couldn’t speak. He appeared comatose much of the time, sleeping and resting with his eyes closed. His room was decorated with his hockey spirit by his family. I had just started playing ice hockey myself, so I could hardly wait for his speech recovery so we could talk about the game.
His recovery began with the movement of his left arm and it didn’t stop. One by one, each limb began to show movement and strength. He was able to support his torso and was soon switched from a power wheelchair to a manual wheelchair to improve his independence and mobility. His breathing recovered so well he was able to have the tracheotomy tube removed.
Slowly but surely Wes began to eat again. His appetite was incredible…he had to keep that 6’4” hockey stature and he was continuing to grow. Once he was able to speak again, Wes and I shared some hockey talk and long awaited “hockey lessons.” We spent a lot of time together, talking about his recovery and his stroke. We studied together for literature tests and we made brownies together. We played games and we shared meals. We played Nok Hockey together and we made origami. We worked together and we laughed together. We managed to cram a whole lifetime of brother-sister emotions and activities into a matter of months.
The day before Wes went home, I was trained by physical therapy to be able to walk with him. And we walked, together, to our last supper. The next morning I came in on my day off to spend some last moments with Wes before he left Good Shepherd. We had breakfast together, shared an enormous amount of tears and hugs, and we were able to walk out the door…together.
I was privileged to care for Wes and watch him recover. He will be the highlight of my entire career.
Online: See more pictures of Wes at Good Shepherd.
Click here for an online tour of the Good Shepherd Rehabilitation Hospital Pediatric Unit.