Nurse and Patient Meet 25 Years Later, with Roles Switched

This is a beautiful story of role reversal between two nurses.

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We’ve probably seen and read stories several about nurses reuniting with their patients after decades. But what happens when a nurse meets her toddler patient 25 years later, as her own nurse? This inspiring story will make you believe in karmic connections — not only between a nurse and the patient — but between two nurses.

In this Dec. 22, 2015 photo, nurse Nicole Krahn, left, poses with near semi-retired nurse Lynn Bartos at Froedtert & the Medical College of Wisconsin in Wauwatosa, Wis. Krahn is now caring for Bartos during her three-hour appointments for rheumatoid arthritis treatment. The two have switched roles from more than 25 years ago, when Bartos cared for Krahn as a toddler. (AP Photo/Carrie Antlfinger)
Nurse Nicole Krahn, left, poses with semi-retired nurse Lynn Bartos at Froedtert & the Medical College of Wisconsin in Wauwatosa, Wis. Photo was taken on Dec. 22, 2015. (AP Photo/Carrie Antlfinger)

Lynn Bartos invariably had a special feeling whenever she had encounters with the soft-spoken nurse at the Milwaukee-area infusion clinic where she got treatments for rheumatoid arthritis pain. She had taken a strange liking to nurse Nicole Krahn.

“I think somewhere inside of me there was something saying, ‘There’s something familiar about that young woman,'” explained Bartos, a 66-year-old semi-retired nurse herself.

Krahn was the nurse assigned in administering her IV treatment as Bartos sits in a recliner for three hours every five weeks to receive a drug that relieves her condition.

The 30-year-old nurse sensed it, too. She asked her patient what she does for a living and learned that Bartos also is a nurse at Froedtert in neurology, but she used to work in the gastroenterology clinic at Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin.

I was given a gift to know that 44 years of nursing, I did make a difference.

“I asked, ‘Oh, is that where you spent your career?’ She said, ‘No … I spent my early career at the GI clinic at Children’s,'” Krahn said.

Krahn used to have a condition wherein her small intestines were twisted shortly after birth and were mostly removed, had to be fed intravenously for the first few years of her life.

Her childhood brought her regularly in a very familiar clinic where she is often weighed and checked over. Back then, the girl who called herself “NeeNee” liked going to Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin four or five times a week because she got to see her favorite nurse whom she called “Sweet Lynney.”

To ease her mind, Bartos took a second look at Krahn’s name tag, and the realization hit.

“I said, ‘You’re NeeNee!’ And she said, ‘Yes, I am,’ and we suddenly realized we had this connection that went way back to her being a toddler,” said Bartos.

That was Krahn’s nickname as a child, coming from the way she said her own name. It arrives sounding like Nee-Nee.

In the past, many children with volvulus didn’t make it and Bartos was amazed to finally see a success story. The case was even featured in 1988 in “Children’s Nurse,” a Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin publication. The article included photos of Bartos, Krahn and her mom.

In this June 1988 photo provided by Children's Hospital of Wisconsin, Lynn Bartos, pediatric nurse for Children's Hospital of Wisconsin Gastroenterology Clinic, holds Nicole Frye, left, at Children's Hospital of Wisconsin in Wauwatosa, Wis. The nurse and family were featured on the cover of the hospital's nursing magazine in 1988 for a story about long term care. Bartos and Nicole Krahn, once Frye, recently reunited after about 25 years, with Krahn now taking care of Bartos who has rheumatoid arthritis. (Jeff Surges/Children's Hospital of Wisconsin via AP)
Lynn Bartos, pediatric nurse for Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin Gastroenterology Clinic, holds Nicole Frye, left, at Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin in Wauwatosa, Wis. Photo taken on June 1988 provided by Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin. (Jeff Surges/Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin via AP)

Bartos said she often wondered about “NeeNee”. “And I’m like, ‘That toddler is now taking care of me.’ And I think I spent the rest of the day crying during the infusion appointment,” Bartos said.

In this June 1988 photo provided by Children's Hospital of Wisconsin, Nicole Frye, center, looks up at Lynn Bartos, pediatric nurse for Children's Hospital of Wisconsin Gastroenterology Clinic, left, at Children's Hospital of Wisconsin in Wauwatosa, Wis. The nurse and family were featured on the cover of the hospital's nursing magazine in 1988 for a story about long term care. Bartos and Nicole Krahn, once Frye, recently reunited after about 25 years, with Krahn now taking care of Bartos who has rheumatoid arthritis. (Jeff Surges/Children's Hospital of Wisconsin via AP)
Nicole Frye, center, looks up at Lynn Bartos, pediatric nurse for Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin Gastroenterology Clinic, left, at Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin in Wauwatosa, Wis. Photo was taken on June 1988 provided by Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin. (Jeff Surges/Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin via AP)

Krahn said she remembered Bartos and always wanted to be a nurse. She says Bartos’ kindness influenced her on how she connects to patients.

In this June 1988 photo provided by Children's Hospital of Wisconsin, Lynn Bartos, right, and Rose Frye weigh Nicole Frye, left, at Children's Hospital of Wisconsin in Wauwatosa, Wis. The nurse and family were featured on the cover of the hospital's nursing magazine in 1988 for a story about long term care. Bartos and Nicole Krahn, once Frye, recently reunited after about 25 years, with Krahn now taking care of Bartos who has rheumatoid arthritis. (Jeff Surges/Children's Hospital of Wisconsin via AP)
Lynn Bartos, right, and Rose Frye (Nicole’s mother) weigh Nicole Frye, left, at Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin in Wauwatosa, Wis. Photo was taken on June 1988 provided by Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin. (Jeff Surges/Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin via AP)

“I don’t know if it’s a small world, or it was meant for me to take care of her after all these years,” Krahn said.

Nicole Krahn, left, and Lynn Bartos today. Both are amazed by their chance reunion. (Courtesy Froedtert and the Medical College of Wisconsin)
Nicole Krahn, left, and Lynn Bartos today. Both are amazed by their chance reunion. (Courtesy Froedtert and the Medical College of Wisconsin)

The two women were astounded. They hadn’t seen each other in 25 years, since Bartos had changed jobs. The passage of time had reversed their roles as well.

“It was an absolute gift to me to reconnect with Nicole,” she said. “That’s how I look at it, that I was given a gift to know that 44 years of nursing, I did make a difference.”

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