Heartbeat in a Bottle

Heartbeat in a Bottle
Story 173

"I think any opportunity that we have to go above and beyond for our patients and for our community is welcomed."

-Jessica Hamilton BSN, RN, CCRN

Diane Severud: Cory was the child we decided we weren't going to have, and we decided that it was in God's plan that she was supposed to be here, and everyone said she just had a smile that would just light up a room. And it was true, and it was true. She was one in a million.

It was a Monday when she was diagnosed. She hadn't been feeling well for a couple of weeks, and she drove herself to the emergency room at Adventist Health in Sonora. And she said, "They asked me if I'd ever heard of leukemia and that they thought I had it." She was then transferred to another health system for continued care.

We would talk, we would watch shows that she liked. We would read. She would FaceTime with her girls. They told us early on that she was going to need a bone marrow transplant. She went in for her transplant and unfortunately, there was another surge in the COVID cases. And so the hospital where she was receiving her transplant wasn't able to let me in.

And so one of the big challenges there was they put her in a room on the third floor on a corner where she didn't really have a window view. And she said, "If you don't get me to a room where I can see my mom right outside the window, I'm not doing this." So they moved her to a ground floor room and every day I would visit her and sit outside the window and we would talk on our phones. There was a time in her treatment where she was feeling really low, and she said she just didn't think she could keep doing it.

And I told her, "Well, I'm not ready for you to not do this, so we're going to do it and we're going to do it together." And we did. She did it for girls. They were her driving force.

She was having difficulty breathing, and they took her by ambulance to Adventist Health, Sonora. They needed to ventilate her. They explained that the doctor was Dr. Mahmoudi and they said, "He's excellent. You're going to like him."

He was a very caring individual. He would come in and he would hold her hand and he would say, "Good morning love, how you doing today?" And the nurses, oh my goodness, the nurses and the technicians in the ICU, they talked to her and to me like they'd known us for years. They asked me questions constantly about Cory's girls and her life and her family and her pets. They wanted to know her.

When the time came that we knew that she wasn't going to come off the ventilator, that she couldn't breathe on her own. It was on a Saturday. Dr. Mahmoudi came in on his day off. When we took her off the ventilator, there was I think nine of us in her room. We got to be with her. We got to sit or lay on her bed with her and hold her. And we reminisced.

As many of the world is on social media, I started following Adventist Health on Facebook, and I'm not sure of the exact date, but it was several months after Cory had passed away that I saw this heartbeat in a bottle project.

Jessica Hamilton: The heartbeat in a bottle is a printout of the patient's EKG strip. The EKG is a patient's heart rhythm and heart rate. So we print that out, we put it into a vial, and we give that to the family to take home as a keepsake.

Diane Severud: I think this is an amazing gift for people who have lost their loved one. And I really wish that it had been in place when my daughter was in the ICU. And Jessica, who was one of Cory's nurses when she was there, messaged me and she said, "I was one of Cory's nurses, and we will definitely do what we can to get this for you."

Jessica Hamilton: So we're a small hospital in a small community. So I think any opportunity that we have to go above and beyond for our patients and for our community is welcomed. And being able to send something with a patient's family members that leaves the hospital with them when they don't get to take their family member home with them is really special. So that is our point of care with compassion.

Diane Severud: Like my daughter, being a mom was my greatest accomplishment. She was beautiful inside and out. She was beautiful as a child. She was beautiful as a mom. She was beautiful in her heart. She was beautiful when she was bald. She was just amazing.

For me, it represents the hours and days and weeks and months through Cory's journey that I watched her heartbeat on the monitors. She had a beautiful heart. I just hope that other people look at it the same way and that they can walk away with how much love is given to their loved ones while they're there in the ICU.