For a long time, all that could be found on her LinkedIn profile was the message that Juliette (27) had obtained her diploma in intensive care nursing. Until last week. After a special moment with a patient in her intensive care unit at Maastricht UMC, she decides to share something else. She explains what makes her work so special. And that positivity is welcomed with open arms.
“Oh dear, what have I done now.” That was Juliette’s first thought when her LinkedIn message went viral. If she looks on her phone a day after posting, she already has three hundred comments and more than ten thousand likes. “I never posted anything,” says Juliette. “But because of all the loaded reports I read in the media about intensive care, I still felt the need to share something about my work. There is also a lot of beautiful happening in my department.”
Bert and Vlyx
In her LinkedIn post she tells Bert’s story. This 72-year-old man has been in her ward since September, when she notices that he is not doing well. “The IC can feel very hopeless for patients,” explains Juliette. “They are sick, afraid to die, see little of their surroundings and some can become very passive, depressed and emotional.”
For Juliette, that’s a sign that something needs to be done. That her patients need a glimmer of hope. And she is only too happy to give them that. ,,When I noticed that Bert was not doing well, I made a video call to his wife. When his dog came into the picture, Bert became very emotional.” And so a plan is born. Juliette has Bert’s wife and dog Vlyx come to the hospital lobby for Bert to see. “It’s quite an undertaking,” she explains. ,,I first have to get permission to drive the patient down with a ventilator. A doctor must be arranged who can accompany you. It’s not just any outing.”
Fortunately, Juliette gets it done and an hour later it’s time. When Bert enters the hall, he immediately becomes emotional at the sight of his wife and dog. A furry hug from his golden retriever, and his day can’t get any better. And there’s more: as a surprise, all his children and grandchildren are also there. “It was so beautiful. He could just hug and see everyone. The staff and I immediately had tears in our eyes,” Juliette recalls. When she provides these kinds of bright spots for her patients, she always notices how they revive, no matter how hopeless the situation is. “That’s what I do it for.”
The story doesn’t just come to Juliette. Her LinkedIn message about Bert goes viral. “I got so many lovely comments,” she says. ,,I also showed them all to Bert and his family. It did them very well, all that positivity. And me too.”
These are the moments that Juliette finds important in her work, the personal contact. She noticed this early in her nursing career. “When I was 16, I did my first internship. I found the suffering and wounds I saw in the surgical ward intense,” she recalls. “Because I was so concerned about that, I was advised to stop. My supervisors said I got too involved.”
Juliette continued anyway, developed into an intensive care nurse and turned her ‘weakness’ into her strength. “I am very calm and always have an eye for the human element behind the patient,” she explains.
Music and nail polish
In recent years she has been able to provide many bright spots. She remembers a 55-year-old man with metastatic cancer. “There was nothing more we could do for him. Still, I tried to make his days fun by putting on music he liked. He really liked that.” She also remembers pampering a seriously ill woman. ,,I painted her nails, gave her some make-up”, Juliette recalls. “At that moment I thought: what would I need if I was lying here? Well, that. To have the feeling that you are a bit yourself again and not that patient who is only in bed.”
Because of the busyness on the IC, there is not always time for those kinds of personal moments. Juliette: ,,It is very difficult to schedule this. But if it works, we are happy to do something extra for the patient.” It is also very necessary. “Intensive care is not only hopeless, but traumatic for some. Many are left with some form of PTSD from their time on the ward,” she explains. “That makes sense: you live in fear all the time and experience something very drastic. In this way we give people a slightly more positive experience and we give them a little extra strength to continue for a while.”
How are you now?
At least Bert got that power. He has since been transferred to another department and is doing much better. Recently, Juliette saw him when she came to cut his hair. “But I certainly hope he visits the hospital again,” she says. Then of course not as a patient, but fully recovered. And if possible with dog Vlyx.
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