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How a nurse comforted a woman in extreme pain

MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:

Time now for "My Unsung Hero," our series from NPR's Hidden Brain. "My Unsung Hero" tells the stories of people whose kindness left a lasting impression on someone else. Today's story comes from Jennifer Reinhart. One night in 2003, Reinhart suffered a traumatic fall that left her with life-threatening injuries. After three major surgeries and a medically induced coma, she was in tremendous pain. She remembers being in the hospital on a large amount of morphine to help her sleep through the pain. When she woke up, she was dripping with sweat and shivering.

JENNIFER REINHART: I was so cold, but shivering made my whole body hurt. And so I was also crying because it hurt so bad. And I was shivering, and I couldn't stop. And I managed to reach the call button and called for the nurse. And when the nurse came in and saw what was happening, she's like, oh, honey, we'll get you out of this bed, and we'll get you into clean sheets. And I just was panic-struck because every single piece of me hurt so badly. I didn't know that I would - I felt like I didn't know if I could even survive being moved out of the bed. And she called in an attendant, and he was two or three times the size of me. And he walked over and scooped me up out of the bed like a little baby, so tenderly and so gently. He held me like I was made out of tissue paper. And he just held me very still and quiet and hummed a song very quietly. Well, the nurses came in and quickly got the sheets changed.

There was something about the power of the sound of his voice and the vibration in his chest and how gently he was holding me that just put a balm and a soothingness (ph) over that pain that I was feeling. When he set me back down in the bed and they changed my hospital gown and I was back in dry, warm - they brought warm blankets - it was really the first time since I had fallen that I felt sure that I was going to live through this and that I'd get back home to my children. I wish he could have known just how much he helped me.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

KELLY: Jennifer Reinhardt lives in Homer, Alaska. After staying in the hospital for three weeks, she was able to go home to her children, who are now 20 and 26. You can find more stories like this on the "My Unsung Hero" podcast. And to share the story of your unsung hero, visit myunsunghero.org for instructions on how to send a voice memo. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

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