am I a wimp?

  1. I"ve been taking care of an inpatient hospice patient off and on for the last week and a half. Last night she declined rapidly, and I was surprised that she lived thru my shift. I doubt she is still alive this morning.
    I spent much time in her room, because she was alone and scared. I medicated her to the gills and I think she was comfortable but she was just hanging on. She needed a hand to hold.
    I have cared for this patient several times, and I really liked her. I have watched her go from self-sufficient to....this. I was emotionally wobbly all night but kept it together during my shift. Today I am still wobbly. I have never taken care of a patient as they were dying.
    Is it normal for me to be all teary-eyed today? I can't put a finger on why I am so upset. I mean, I am glad the patient is likely out of pain and that I could help her last night. But it was stressful and difficult caring for my other patients as well, and i didn't get things done as efficiently as I would normally.
    If this is what I am going to feel like every time a patient dies, I don't know if this is the right area of nursing for me.....
    Advice welcomed.
    Mia
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  2. 8 Comments

  3. by   TrudyRN
    not a wimp, just human; God bless you for caring about and for her. Try to do something restorative for yourself today.
  4. by   fultzymom
    I work in LTC and my first patient who died was a mother of four who was only in her mid-40's. She had contracted AIDS from her husband who had cheated on her. She died late one night and after I had done my job for the family, the patient, ect, I called my hubs at about 2am and cried like crazy. And with each one that it did get easier. Yes, everytime that a patient dies I feel sad but I have learned to deal with it better.

    This type of nursing is not for everyone. But I hope that you will hang in there and see if it gets easier for you. We need compassionate people who enjoy helping people in their last days. Good luck!
  5. by   Medic04
    Quote from MIA-RN
    I"ve been taking care of an inpatient hospice patient off and on for the last week and a half. Last night she declined rapidly, and I was surprised that she lived thru my shift. I doubt she is still alive this morning.
    I spent much time in her room, because she was alone and scared. I medicated her to the gills and I think she was comfortable but she was just hanging on. She needed a hand to hold.
    I have cared for this patient several times, and I really liked her. I have watched her go from self-sufficient to....this. I was emotionally wobbly all night but kept it together during my shift. Today I am still wobbly. I have never taken care of a patient as they were dying.
    Is it normal for me to be all teary-eyed today? I can't put a finger on why I am so upset. I mean, I am glad the patient is likely out of pain and that I could help her last night. But it was stressful and difficult caring for my other patients as well, and i didn't get things done as efficiently as I would normally.
    If this is what I am going to feel like every time a patient dies, I don't know if this is the right area of nursing for me.....
    Advice welcomed.
    Mia
    First off I helped with hospice and truely feel for you. Hug

    1. We were told "Do not get close to them" Well of course we get close to them. We are human, I know more then once it tore my heart out.
    This is normal some affect us deeper then others in this job, because they at in time are no longer just a number or a patient. They become a person with a name, a life, likes and dislikes and in some case like family. When you in some ways are blessed with that, when they are gone you are going to grieve or be teary it is normal. I have yet to encounter a RN who let "No one in ever"

    2. I noticed many pts in HOSPICE were different then say a regular pt and even from some of mine. They are facing the odds they know death is coming to get them. They have the courage to face it. We see that and it helps to bring out our own inner strength, and when they are gone they at times take a piece of that strength with them.

    3.You get a friend who is no longer a "number" or a "PT", and when you loose that friend even in peace and comfort you grieve.

    No one thinks less of you, but you MUST recall for every lil bit of heart you give out, you do loose it. Which causes burnout and pain faster.
    Just hold onto the memories and them for as I have been told before and say to others" The only way one really dies is to be forgotten" So as long as you and the others have their memory they will live on forever, once forgotten.....you get the picture.

    Hugs to you and enjoy your role, you were placed there for a reason and a higher power has led you there. Hold onto your gift with both hands, I did for a long time between Paramedic and Hospice and other routes. I just had to let go, but I do cherish many of the memories of those who I cared for and I know many of them over the years have been gone a long time but not forgotten.:angel2::icon_hug:
  6. by   Blackcat99
    When I was a young nurses aide, one of my patients at the nursing home died. She was one of my favorites and the first patient death I had ever experienced. I broke down and cried right there in her room. Her son had to console me. He kept telling me, over and over it's OK, she's lived a long time and has had a good life.
  7. by   DaFreak71
    Quote from Medic04
    First off I helped with hospice and truely feel for you. Hug

    1. We were told "Do not get close to them" Well of course we get close to them. We are human, I know more then once it tore my heart out.
    This is normal some affect us deeper then others in this job, because they at in time are no longer just a number or a patient. They become a person with a name, a life, likes and dislikes and in some case like family. When you in some ways are blessed with that, when they are gone you are going to grieve or be teary it is normal. I have yet to encounter a RN who let "No one in ever"

    2. I noticed many pts in HOSPICE were different then say a regular pt and even from some of mine. They are facing the odds they know death is coming to get them. They have the courage to face it. We see that and it helps to bring out our own inner strength, and when they are gone they at times take a piece of that strength with them.

    3.You get a friend who is no longer a "number" or a "PT", and when you loose that friend even in peace and comfort you grieve.

    No one thinks less of you, but you MUST recall for every lil bit of heart you give out, you do loose it. Which causes burnout and pain faster.
    Just hold onto the memories and them for as I have been told before and say to others" The only way one really dies is to be forgotten" So as long as you and the others have their memory they will live on forever, once forgotten.....you get the picture.

    Hugs to you and enjoy your role, you were placed there for a reason and a higher power has led you there. Hold onto your gift with both hands, I did for a long time between Paramedic and Hospice and other routes. I just had to let go, but I do cherish many of the memories of those who I cared for and I know many of them over the years have been gone a long time but not forgotten.:angel2::icon_hug:
    This was a really sweet and caring response! I do, however, have a bit to say about this statement: "No one thinks less of you, but you MUST recall for every lil bit of heart you give out, you do loose it. Which causes burnout and pain faster."

    I'd like to add this: For every little bit of your heart that you give out, it makes you more humane, more connected to who YOU are. You don't lose anything by being human and expressing your feelings, you become a better person. Your caring is unlimited. The world needs people who give until it hurts, because with pain comes a deeper understanding of humanity. As far as burnout, that is something that can be avoided by taking time to express your feelings (cry when you need/want to, feel angry, frustrated, happy, etc) and making sure that you take care of yourself. Burnout happens when these feelings aren't processed. Take care of yourself and take time to feel. When/if it should ever become overwhelming, seek help. But the very last thing you want to do is to shut down. When your patients see that you care, they are more able to trust you. If you lose pieces of your heart, it will become obvious to to everyone and it is hell to turn the tide around. For every little bit of your heart that you give out, you get it back tenfold because you remain genuine and people need and want that. Especially vulnerable people. You are NOT a wimp!! You are a human being with a beautiful heart. :icon_hug:
  8. by   Cosper123
    *claps*

    If I had just one thing to take away from this thread...I'd chose this:
    Quote from lostdruid
    For every little bit of your heart that you give out, it makes you more humane, more connected to who YOU are. You don't lose anything by being human and expressing your feelings, you become a better person. Your caring is unlimited. The world needs people who give until it hurts, because with pain comes a deeper understanding of humanity.




    To the OP, of course you aren't weak...but I hope you knew that, or at least do now. If you do perceive any of this as a weakness, then so very few of us here are stronger. And I certainly wouldn't want one of the "strong ones" caring for me or mine.
  9. by   MIA-RN
    Thanks to everyone who contributed to this thread. I am feeling better about things now, although still questioning if I have what it takes in this particular area of nursing. Sometimes I think I become attached to my patients---I am always falling for the LOL's.
    Thanks again to all who read and responded.
    ~Mia
  10. by   jahra
    Fearless. You accompanied your patient in her difficult journey.
    It is very difficult to be scared alone, but comforting to have
    loving support and care from a dedicated nurse in the journey.

    Accept and acknowledge your feelings, you have given the
    extra not included in the care plan- your heart.

    Take time for yourself to restore your energy.

    In a healthcare system which has lost its priorities,

    You are the true definition of the word== Nurse

    God Bless You
    Last edit by jahra on Dec 1, '07

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