For the family and patient (long)

  1. Yesterday, they flew in a 20 year old mother who had been in an MVA, had not been wearing a seatbelt and was ejected through the windshield of the car in which she was a passenger. She was brought immediately into the OR, bilateral hemopneumothorax, liver lacs, splenic lacs, bilateral femur fractures, massive crush wounds, 80 units of blood given during the surgery. I wasn't running the OR room but was running for things near the end of the case for the nurses in the room. They did what they could, sent her to angio looking for other bleeds. She died in angio.

    I was sitting at the desk waiting for my next assignment when the charge nurse came up to me. "You're probably not going to appreciate this much, but they are bringing up the woman who died and I need you to get her ready for the family to view." At that moment, no, I didn't appreciate the assignment at all. I was grumbling to my self as I started to gather wash clothes, towels, peroxide, etc. Grumble, grumble, grumble. Rotten luck.

    They brought her up to a room off the main OR floor and I got a list of what the anesthesia attending wanted me to do, tie off the lines, suction the mouth, etc. He closed the door.

    Suddenly just me and the body. Pulled back the sheet, I knew she would be unrecognizable to her husband and family. She was a bloody mess. I started to wash. And as I washed I started to think of all the things we think of when it's just us and the patient. I started to think about what if this was my daughter, my sister, my mother. I washed and washed. The more I worked the more I felt how important what I was doing was to her, for her family. They sent in an aide to help me, a young guy (med student or nursing student) just thrilled to be seeing it. We are a strange group, this group who works in medicine. And I started to talk to him about the fact she was 20, had a little baby, a husband, how this wasn't something "cool". And he and I talked and washed and cleaned. We combed her hair, we changed the linens, picked the newest crispest brightest gown we could find, the best blanket, changed the lighting in the room, put out boxes of Kleenex. By the time we were done we were both holding back tears for this young lady we didn't know, for her family, for her little girl. We stood back and looked at her, and then we left. I called the coroner's office, I called the state donor agency, I began to gather all the paperwork. I watched from a distance as the chaplain brought up the husband, brother, family. I watched them cry. I watched the disbelif they were feeling. The tears began to roll as I held the phone to my ear and gave information to the agencies. I hate this job, I love this job. I hope the family remains in tact. I hope this lady knew how much she was loved, and I hope she understands this nurse, who didn't want to do this task at first, became a better nurse and a better person because of the time I spent with her. The next time, if there is a next time, there will be no grumbling. This was one of the most important things I've done in a long time for a patient. I'm a little different person today. I called my son and told him I love him. I hung onto my husband last night like I may never see him again. Tell someone today how much they mean to you, there may never be a better time.
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  2. 27 Comments

  3. by   gypsyatheart
    Thanks for this story. You are so right, not one of us knows how long we have here, whether we are 20 or 80..... Thank you for taking your time with this young woman...I'm sure she knows the tender care you gave to her.... ((((((hugs)))))) to you.
  4. by   ManEnough
    Wow.. got a little teary-eyed here. Beautiful story.
  5. by   RRMLPN
    (((((((0rrnlori)))))))) Brought tears to my eyes. I am so thankful we have Nurses such as yourself.
  6. by   CherryRN
    wow, I have tears in my eyes. {{{{{{{{hugztoyou}}}}}}}

    Cherry
  7. by   Gompers
    Thank you for sharing that beautiful story. You are a wonderful nurse, don't ever forget that.

    I really believe the days that define us as nurses aren't the days that we work medical miracles, but the days that we work emotional ones.
  8. by   Chaya
    We see so many deaths that can't be prevented. I have to confess the second thing I felt reading your account was fury, on behalf of the little girl left without a mother because a seat belt was not used. It does remind me how a seemingly tiny moment of neglect can change not only our own life "plan" but those of our loved ones in the blink of an eye... We never can know what it planned for us but why take chances we don't need to. My heart goes out to that family.
  9. by   traumaRUs
    Thanks for reminding us of why we are here.
  10. by   bunrab
    outstanding...just when i was beginning to get a little jaded.
  11. by   jemb
    The nurse educators on this bb should print out your story and share it with their students.

    Situations like the one you have shared with us separate the really good nurses from those that are just doing a day's work for a day's pay.

    Bless you.
  12. by   LPNtoBSNstudent
    What a wonderful post. You should make a full fledged essay out of that experience and tuck it away. I got a little choked up myself while reading it. What a sad situation. I totally 'got it' when you said, I hate this job, I love this job. You are a great nurse.
  13. by   FranEMTnurse
    Quote from orrnlori
    Yesterday, they flew in a 20 year old mother who had been in an MVA, had not been wearing a seatbelt and was ejected through the windshield of the car in which she was a passenger. She was brought immediately into the OR, bilateral hemopneumothorax, liver lacs, splenic lacs, bilateral femur fractures, massive crush wounds, 80 units of blood given during the surgery. I wasn't running the OR room but was running for things near the end of the case for the nurses in the room. They did what they could, sent her to angio looking for other bleeds. She died in angio.

    I was sitting at the desk waiting for my next assignment when the charge nurse came up to me. "You're probably not going to appreciate this much, but they are bringing up the woman who died and I need you to get her ready for the family to view." At that moment, no, I didn't appreciate the assignment at all. I was grumbling to my self as I started to gather wash clothes, towels, peroxide, etc. Grumble, grumble, grumble. Rotten luck.

    They brought her up to a room off the main OR floor and I got a list of what the anesthesia attending wanted me to do, tie off the lines, suction the mouth, etc. He closed the door.

    Suddenly just me and the body. Pulled back the sheet, I knew she would be unrecognizable to her husband and family. She was a bloody mess. I started to wash. And as I washed I started to think of all the things we think of when it's just us and the patient. I started to think about what if this was my daughter, my sister, my mother. I washed and washed. The more I worked the more I felt how important what I was doing was to her, for her family. They sent in an aide to help me, a young guy (med student or nursing student) just thrilled to be seeing it. We are a strange group, this group who works in medicine. And I started to talk to him about the fact she was 20, had a little baby, a husband, how this wasn't something "cool". And he and I talked and washed and cleaned. We combed her hair, we changed the linens, picked the newest crispest brightest gown we could find, the best blanket, changed the lighting in the room, put out boxes of Kleenex. By the time we were done we were both holding back tears for this young lady we didn't know, for her family, for her little girl. We stood back and looked at her, and then we left. I called the coroner's office, I called the state donor agency, I began to gather all the paperwork. I watched from a distance as the chaplain brought up the husband, brother, family. I watched them cry. I watched the disbelif they were feeling. The tears began to roll as I held the phone to my ear and gave information to the agencies. I hate this job, I love this job. I hope the family remains in tact. I hope this lady knew how much she was loved, and I hope she understands this nurse, who didn't want to do this task at first, became a better nurse and a better person because of the time I spent with her. The next time, if there is a next time, there will be no grumbling. This was one of the most important things I've done in a long time for a patient. I'm a little different person today. I called my son and told him I love him. I hung onto my husband last night like I may never see him again. Tell someone today how much they mean to you, there may never be a better time.
    orrnlori,
    Even though your story tore at my heart in a very big way, my hat is off to you wonderful nurse. You provided a service that is what real nursing is all about. God bless you. We are, all of us that much more blessed from reading your story.
  14. by   Tweety
    Gee, I don't get teary eyed easily. But I was moved. Thanks.

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