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Anne Marie was born with a heart defect. With less than 10 percent heart function remaining, she received a left ventricular assist device (LVAD) that would help circulate her blood.
She had been waiting for a heart transplant and continues to wait for one.
After the LVAD was implanted, Anne Marie was admitted to the Cardiovascular Intensive Care Unit at Toronto General Hospital (TGH). As she was getting her central line removed, she felt what she describes as "tingling in my arm and I couldn't breathe".
"It was an amazing, terrifying experience," she says.
Anne Marie recalls a nurse – who she now refers to as her hero – running down the hall to assess the situation. She remembers being frightened. But she also remembers the nurse's reassuring words: "I'm right here. It's okay. Just look at me."
'Going to bat for me'
Those words and the nurse's refusal to leave her side, made Anne Marie feel safe.
"There was someone going to bat for me," Anne Marie recalls thinking.
Anne Marie remembers the nurse being a patient advocate and standing up for her.
"She went above and beyond. She was right there and wasn't going anywhere."
Anne Marie's story about being cared for and feeling safe doesn't end there. She was later transferred to the Cardiovascular Surgery Inpatient Unit at TGH, and praises the nursing care she received there, too.
While on that unit, Anne Marie had a figurine of an angel in her room. One day, her nurse accidentally knocked down the angel and broke its wings. But, despite how busy she was, the nurse "got glue on her break to put them back together," Anne Marie says in appreciation of the gesture.
'I've had some special nurses'
"She was awesome…she just gave me her heart," Anne Marie says about her nurse on the Cardiovascular Surgery unit.
It was the thoughtfulness, reassurance, and patient advocacy shown by the nurses that made Anne Marie's terrifying experience, an amazing one.
"I've had some real special nurses."