For 5-year-old Slade Thompson, it’s been a tough year so far. He’s already had two surgeries, something that most people hope to avoid over their entire lives.
While the adorable kiddo has clearly become a bit of a pro at handling the hospital atmosphere, though, the aftermath of surgery—which involves coming out of anesthesia and dealing with a laundry list of physical and emotions pains—is terrifying no matter how many surgeries a kid has had.
For his second surgery, Thompson had undergone a procedure that “cauterized Slade’s tonsils, adenoids, and both sides of his nose,” Western Journal reported. And when he woke up following the surgery, he started to cry out for his mom.
She wasn’t immediately available to comfort him, but he was lucky enough to have a nurse named Annie Hager.
Hager, who works at UPMC Susquehanna Health in Williamsport, Pennsylvania, wasn’t able to summon his mom to the rescue. However, she was able to snuggle up to him to help calm him down—and the ensuing candid shot immediately went viral thanks to Hager’s incredible show of compassion.
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Hager shared the photo of her and Thompson, snapped by his mom, Layla, to her Instagram account while explaining that the mother and son had stopped by the hospital a second time to thank her properly.
“I don’t post things very often but this little guy touched my heart, and his mama’s beautiful kind words and actions have brought tears to my eyes twice now!” she wrote on her post.
“A few weeks ago Mr. Slade came out of surgery to the recovery room and was my first patient of the day … Most kids scream their way out of anesthesia (to no fault of their own, it’s a pretty normal response to all the stuff we give them) but Slade, although crying at times, was calm and sweet, but obviously scared and in some pain.”
She went on to explain that when she told Slade that she couldn’t grab his mom just yet, he’d asked her to snuggle him instead—something she was all too willing to accommodate.
When Slade Thompson of Renovo woke up from tonsil surgery, all he wanted was to be snuggled and cared for. Not thinking…
“I jumped right in that bed and snuggled up that little guy so fast! His small sweet request made my heart so full!!!”
After the Thompsons brought her flowers later as a thank you, she praised Layla for doing such a good job with her son before going on to explain how moments like that make her job worth it. Through the pain and grueling situations that nurses are put in every day, the gratitude from an adorable little boy and his mother—along with a quick snuggle and chance to provide comfort—were exactly the reward she wants for all the thankless work.
“This right here is why I LOVE my job. It is why I go to work everyday,” she wrote.
The hospital shared the photos and the story, highlighting just how incredible nurses are as a part of National Nurses Week in early May. And along with the 5,100 likes and 646 shares in the first two weeks alone, dozens of Facebook commenters flocked to the post to share their own stories of gratitude for all of the comfort that nurses provide after some of life’s toughest experiences.
“I can tell you, both my kids had this surgery and nurses are amazing, helping kids come out of anesthesia. They are afraid and emotional when they first wake up and parents have to wait until the nurse settles the patient into recovery before they can go back. So trust me, know you have nurses like this caring for them, helps take some of the fear away for the parents too,” one mom wrote.