A patient died today. . . .

  1. I guess I've come to the conclusion that I'm kind of sad and maybe even a bit depressed. I work nights. It is now 6:20 PM and I haven't even been to bed yet. What have I been doing? Two things, probably. One is the obvious. I'm here. . . . here at "Allnurses.com". . . probably for over 7 hours straight!!! Typing. Reading. Typing some more. Editing. Reading. Typing.

    I haven't surfed the internet for that length of time in quite a while!

    The second thing I'm doing is a bit less obvious. Even to myself. I'm avoiding. What a typical "psycho-babble" term, isn't it?!?!?!?

    Avoiding.

    But I am.

    Avoiding.

    I'm sad. I'm scared. And I'm even a bit lonely. (Amy is out taking her evening college course.)

    _____________________


    I've seen dozens of people die. I've seen them take their last breath. . . . and then. . . . "No more". Today was no different.

    Except it was, I guess.

    I've only met this gentleman just hours before his death. Four hours to be more precise. He was admitted because of pancytopenia and hypotension probably all secondary to AML. But he was alive when I first met him!!!!!! We talked together. I took his vital signs. I gave him water to drink. He thanked me.

    He shared with me!!!! He said that he was ready to go! He said that if anything should "happen" to me, don't do "anything". "Just let me go!"

    He was a DNR/DNI. That was official.

    And deep down I KNEW he was going to die today.

    So I watched him closely. Just watched him sometimes.

    He was my ONLY patient so I made sure he had everything done for him per his wishes. . . as best as I could. Sat him up in bed. Gave him pain medication. . . which never seemed to do him much good. So I gave him more.

    And repositioned him to his liking. And watched him. And took his vitals when appropriate. And talked to him.

    About his family. About how he knew that he was very sick. About pain management. About his heavy breathing. About his grandchildren. About his own children. About his wife who was also ill of health too.

    He was in pain. . . and there was not much I could do about it except what I did. He had trouble breathing the WHOLE TIME. . . he always Foxed 98% . . . . or better! . . . . but I still gave him more oxygen. He sweated. . . I wiped his forehead. He sat up abruptly as if in an anxious "what is going on?". . . and I held his hand. I held his hand a lot!

    And then his left arm got numb!

    WHAT?!?!?!? What's that all about?!?!?!?

    And his face began to droop.

    What the hell is going on???

    And his speech slurred.

    A fricken' stroke!

    And he stooped towards the left side!

    Can things get much worse?!?!?!?!?

    By "THIS" time, my shift was over. I could have walked home at 7:00 AM! It was my time to leave!!!

    But I didn't.

    Sometimes it takes time for someone to die. So I stayed.

    The on-coming day nurse was well aware of the immediate situation and could very well handle himself.

    I still stayed.

    And together the day nurse and I stayed with the patient. And we talked to him, and held his hand, and said "It's O. K."

    "You are not alone."

    At 9:35 he was "pronounced".

    And he was not alone.

    _____________________

    Now, I've seen dozens of people die. Held many-a-hand. Said many-a-"It's O.K.".

    And it never gets any easier.

    And I still find the whole experience SOOOOOO PROFOUND!!!

    So sad. . . yet he's free of pain. So scary. . . yet he died knowingly, couragously and. . . YES!. . . peacefully (as peacefully as can be given the pain he was in). So lonely. . . .

    Yet he was not alone when he died!

    _____________________________

    And I'm left with my memories. My fears. My sadness at witnessing such an profound event that it makes me almost want to scream! ! !

    _____________________

    I'm left knowing that someday. Somewhere. Hopefully with someone. . . .

    I'm going to die.

    And I don't want to!!!

    I want life to ALWAYS BE!

    I WANT TO LIVE!!!!

    For another day. Another precious, love-filled day.
    •  
  2. 61 Comments

  3. by   MelRN13
    Great post, Ted. I have tears welling up in my eyes now. It's good to see such great compassion in action.
  4. by   rnnurse2be
    Im sorry for your loss today, but your experience and words are moving. Your still human, you have feelings to deal with. Im glad you were with him, Im sure he was glad too.
  5. by   ShelleyERgirl
    I am so so sorry for your loss today. I am wiping tears from my eyes as I read your words. Please be comforted in knowing that you WERE there and you did everything that could be done. Maybe with our our medical advancements today, all your patient needed was someone to just hold his hand and just listen to him talk about his life and you did that Ted, you were there for him. Please know that my thoughts and prayers are with you and one more thing ... go to bed! You have to got to be exhausted at this point, we will all be here for you when you come back sweetie!
  6. by   SmilingBluEyes
    OH dear Ted, I am sooooo sorry.

    ((((TED))))
  7. by   Tookie
    My thoughts are with you
    Thank you for sharing that
    Tookie
  8. by   renerian
    very moving.

    renerian
  9. by   Just Angi
    ((((TED))))

    My thoughts and prayers are with you. I had to shed a few tears with you as I read your post. But, people like YOU are exactly why I have worked so hard to get those pre-req's and start the program in Aug. You are truly in the right line of work. I hope when I finish school and start in the real world I will be a compassionate and caring nurse like you are.

    Angi
  10. by   NRSKarenRN
    Had a similar experience few years ago. Think it's do to us hitting 40+ and realizing we won't live forever.

    Have been with many patients over the years in their last hours. A few just touched me in such that way. This spring Priest was talking about a good death and I started having a panic attack in church cause I don't want to die.

    My patenal grandmom was alert right up till day she died at age 99 1/2 (little forgetful in last two weeks). She told me night before she died that she just couldn't fight anymore to stay alive till age 100 and that I would know when it was my time to leave this earth too. Her words gave me some comfort but I still get little tense just thinking about not seeing family and friends ...and typing these words.

    So I try to make the most of TIME with my kids and family over my dust. Those memories of times shared give me the greatest comfort along with pictures of family.


    {{{{HUG to you}}}} for sharing this experience.
    Last edit by NRSKarenRN on Jun 16, '03
  11. by   nursedawn67
    wow that was moving...I'm so sorry to hear about your loss.
  12. by   jnette
    Warmest hugs to you, dear Ted.

    He was not alone. He was not alone. He was not alone.

    Yes, he passed. He died. But he was not alone... and he KNEW it!

    Thank you, Ted. For staying. For caring. For giving your all to a "stranger". It will be remembered.

    Bless you.
  13. by   atownsendrn
    Thank you Ted.
  14. by   I_Love_Donuts
    Thank you for sharing your experience with us...thank you!

close