So I went into a room for a patient that was having difficulty breathing. It was a little old man who was just transfered from the PCU, and was going to go home on hospice. Nothing was set up yet (I mean JUST arrived), and the nurse taking care of him was busy with someone having emisis. So I said I would tuck him in and take vs and help her out.
Well this little guy had a foot and a half in the grave! Mottled, and dusky and having trouble swollowing his resp secretions. I got a nice flexable suction cath and cleaned out just the oral area, and a tiny bit of the back. He had NO gag anymore, but quit girgling in the mouth and moaning. I looked deeply into his sunken beautiful blue teal eyes and combed my fingers through his hair and introduced myself and told him I was there to help him. He cracked what he could of a smile and was basically non verbal. I came out of the room and looked at my charge nurse and said "one hour, maybe two at the most"...she was shocked, the MD and RN's said he had about a week. NO WAY!
So we all took turns being in there and making him comfortable. Then when I was busy, his IV beeped and my charge nurse came in...sure enough he had passed on. Now I am much more use to this than the other nurses, I have worked with geriatrics for 5+ years, and have seen my share of people passing. But I really learned something about my team...this hits them very very hard!
I noted that one of the other nurses was in the room listening with the steth..and I went in. I took one look and said "ohhhhh no...he passed", and the nurse turned to me in tears! I was so shocked really since I had never seen a nurse cry over this before! I immediately (instictively I think) grabbed her and huged her and said..."Oh sweety no, it was definately his time and we made it very comfortable for his passing, look...he looks so peaceful and calm now...almost angelic! See..." She agreed, but was still silently tearful. I had her go take a break and get something to drink or something and the CNA and I took care to make him clean, tubes out, and all nice for his relatives (who btw were with him the entire time EXCEPT when he passed..they had gone to dinner, and were from Arizona visiting for the holidays...oh poor folks!). We all cleaned the room and I put in lots of our softest tissues boxes (our nurses stash...no one minded at all), and my charge got the pastor for the family. We all pitched in to make sure that the family was well taken care of and could spend as much time as they needed with him.
The MD who called didn't come in to pronounce...it was expected. Since three nurses all did a one or more min apical...radial/femoral...and vs machine came up with nothing...no breathing in 5 minutes (no code...DNR) he assumed he was quite dead and didn't feel the need. I declaired it officially for the notes and voice order from MD. But my charge overheard me say to this doc...who I know very well "no sir...this is one very very dead gentleman...yes sir, as dead as I have ever seen em...yes sir, okay...thanks". My charge just looked at me and said..."well, guess I am glad to have you here, we needed someone that is use to this...and well, you certainly are LOL!" And I said "wish I wasn't..really wish I wasn't".
I spent the rest of my shift consoling the other nurses, and really helping the pts nurse who had never seen anyone die before, nor a dead body ever. I gave her lots of support and kindness...shared a story or two...and told her since it was almost end of swing shift, and quiet...to take time to cry..I would cover for her this time around.
I have never been around nurses that hadn't experienced death before...felt wierd because usually with all the things happening in the hospital and my recent switch back to hospital...I am the one that feels like most of this is a new thing all over again..but death...naaaaa, that one I know. But, the crew seemed so very relieved I was there to help and give them support!
That felt very good!
(BTW the family was very sweet and understanding, and were mentally prepaired. Got the Pastor in there, and they laughed and cried together...it was very moving and even at that point I almost teared up..it was just so sweet!).
Nov 27, '06
Very touching and lovely that you was there to offer support to everyone.
Nov 27, '06
Good for you for being a great shoulder to lean/cry on. Keep up the good work. You are needed.