Laura doesn’t remember the Intensive Critical Care Unit (ICCU) staff at Flinders Medical Centre saving her life, but she will never forget the amazing care and compassion they showed her and her family.
Laura was admitted to the ICCU in July following an accident, where she sustained serious injuries. She was in a coma for 17 days.
“The ICCU staff are the reason I am alive. They worked so hard. If they hadn’t worked as hard as they did, I wouldn’t be here today,” Laura said.
“They fought for my life for me when I couldn’t fight for myself.”
During her time in ICCU, Laura’s family – mum Kylie, dad Robert, mum Kylie, step-dad Alistair and brothers Jason, Dylan, Lachlan and Cameron – spent countless hours sitting by her bedside or in the waiting room.
The family got to know everyone in the ICCU, from the volunteers on the door to the nursing staff, clinicians and the patient services assistants (PSA) who came in to clean.
“Hospitals are busy places, but we never once felt rushed or like the staff in ICCU didn’t have time for us,” Laura’s mum Kylie said.
“Their complete and utter devotion – that’s the only world I can use, devotion – to Laura and to our family was incredible. We were enveloped in this ICCU ‘bubble’. They involved us with everything they did. They celebrated with us. They got a bit teary with us. They became like our ICU family.
“They made an impossible situation bearable and, as a family, we were comforted.”
While Laura was in a coma, staff braided her hair and wrote messages in her journal. A night nurse played Laura Disney tunes, which was something her family did during the day, and staff contributed to decorating Laura’s area with her favourite character, ‘Stitch’.
“I posted a daily update about Laura’s journey on Facebook to our ‘Stitch Village’, which is what we called them. It was kind of my therapy,” Kylie said.
“In the very early days, Laura’s Dad changed his Facebook profile picture to a picture of Stitch, then his sister did it and it morphed into this huge thing. I lost count, but I think we got to about 95 people who changed their profile pictures to Stitch in support of Laura.
“We printed most of them out and Laura had them on her wall. Of course, the ICCU staff got involved and eventually Laura had a collection of Stitch teddies and blankets. It was beautiful.”
The support continued when Laura woke up and was finally able to meet the remarkable team who had cared for her.
“They made it so much easier to be in ICCU. I would get upset at times and the staff would sit with me for however long it took for me to feel better and talk me through things,” Laura said.
“If they weren’t looking after me at the time, the nurses would come in and see how I was doing. Each time they saw me, they would get so excited because I had improved so much more.
“Seeing how excited they got by my progress made it a better journey.”
Laura spent a total of 34 days in ICCU before being released to the General Ward at Flinders.
The family gave the ICCU team a giant hamper of chocolates, lollies, coffee and tea as a token of their gratitude, but they wanted to do more. Kylie did some asking around to find out what the ICCU team wanted. Their answer surprised her.
“We were expecting them to ask for a coffee maker, or something for the staff room … but they came back with a doppler,” Kylie said.
A doppler is a small, but important piece of equipment used to check blood flow.
The ICCU staff had used dopplers on Laura regularly to assess the circulation in her legs.
“Laura had every machine that you could in ICCU, so the nurses would go to bed 29 first if they were looking for a piece of equipment. There were a few occasions where they came in looking for dopplers,” Kylie said.
“So, having more dopplers would be beneficial to so many people in ICCU.”
Kylie got in touch with Flinders Foundation and through the support of the ‘Stitch Village’ and local community, the family raised nearly $4,000 to buy two new dopplers for the ICCU, with surplus funds going towards a refurbishment of the ICCU waiting area.
Laura had two conditions for the dopplers: that one be nicknamed ‘Stitch’ and that she could present the dopplers to the ICCU team herself.
“Most people would leave ICCU and never want to return but I said, ‘No, I’m coming back to visit!” Laura said.