Lost one of my favorite patients

  1. I found out today that one of my favorite patients was coded and passed away last night. He was 6 year old. I took care of him from diagnosis through the end of his first inpatient visit- almost a month. This was during the summer, and I've cared for him or visited him periodically since then. I am really bummed because this is the first patient I lost where I was really close to the family. A few other patients of mine have passed away, but I didn't know them as well.
    Please share your experiences with your first significant patient loss and how you got through it.
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  2. 5 Comments

  3. by   grammyr
    I actually have had more than one patient die that I had gotten attached to. The first was and elderly gentleman who had suffered a stroke while in the OR. He never regained consciousness, but you could just tell he was a kind man by the way his family acted. His family was one of the kindest and most caring I had ever encountered. He had 4 children, 2 sons and 2 daughters and it was the sons who stayed with him at night so their mom could go home and get some rest. When we knew the end was close, they asked me to stay and be part of the family and I did. As we held hands around the bed one of the daughters began to sing his favorite hymnal, Amazing Grace, and he quietly slipped away. I only took care of the man and his family for about 2 weeks, but they left a lasting impression on me.
  4. by   traumaRUs
    What kind and wonderful nurses you both are. This is what nursing is all about. I am so sorry for your losses but I'm sure your presence was such a comfort.
  5. by   jnrsmommy
    I had a patient that was admitted to our floor on and off for for several years. I actually first encountered him when I was a student. He always said I was his favorite, bestest nurse, and whenever he came in, always requested me. He had a lung disease that was incurable. There was one stay that we all thought (pt included) that he was going to die. He called me into the room one night, and asked me to sit w/ him a while. I was busy at that time, med pass and new admit, but I sat there for over an hour while he held my hand and just lay there. Finally, he spoke and told me how much he appreciated me and thought of me like I was his daughter. He told me that he felt better about dying because of all the help that I had given him. Then he told me that he loved me, and it was a pleasure knowing me. He had me crying like a baby by that point. He gave me a big hug and a kiss on the cheek, and was telling me not to be upset. It was actually kind of funny, him dying and comforting me. We both wound up laughing over that. He didn't die that night. It actually wasn't until almost two months later. I wasn't there when it happened, and I'm grateful for that. I take great comfort in the fact that we said our good-byes earlier.

    I had another pt that stayed w/ us for several months. For the life of me, I don't remember what was wrong w/ him. He and his family were always in great spirits, and he was never w/o someone staying w/ him. The family was wonderful, always attentive to him, never overbearing, and never w/o a kind word. It was common that if a staff member had gone missing, they were usually in this patients room talking w/ them. I was going on vacation for a few days, and w/ the end being near, I gave them my cell number and asked them to call me if anything happened (the one and only time I've ever done that). Three days later, I was woken up a little after five in the morning, and his wife told me that he had just passed. We talked and cried for a while (the phone got passed around and I got to talk to everyone). Then his wife asked when I was going to be coming back. She didn't want to have his funeral w/o me there. I told her a sooner date than I had planned on, I didn't want them waiting on me. At his wake, they gave me a lovely plaque w/ a message about nursing and said that it was a gift from the pt. I still keep in touch w/ the family.

    I first encounted my next patient by taking care of her husband. I would dread having to take care of her husband, because she was always sooo hard to deal with. You know, nothing we ever did was good enough or fast enough for her liking. Then came the day that she was admitted into the hospital. She had a genetic disease that was getting worse, and we knew that it was getting close to her time. All of a sudden, this was no longer that overbearing wife that I knew, this was my patient who was dying and needed me. It became clear to me that maybe her overbearing attitude was her frustration at the situations. She loved to talk, and the stories she would tell were wonderful. One night, I was walking down the hall, and my co-worker poked her head out of the patients room (she was her nurse that night). She told me that the patient wasn't doing well, and didn't think she had much more time, did I want to say good-bye. The patient's husband was in a nursing home, and she was estranged from her family, so there was no one around. I walked to the bed, and she lay there, more peaceful than I had ever seen her. Her resp were averaging 3-4/min, was pretty non-responsive. We both sat on either side of the bed, each holding a hand, and just talked to her. Was maybe fifteen minutes that we were in there, then there was the slightest squeeze of my fingers and a sense of utter peacefulness, and I knew that she had just passed at that moment. I felt such an honor at being there at that time, and even better when I called the nursing home and was able to tell her husband that she was not alone (her greatest fear she had told me one time).
    Last edit by jnrsmommy on Dec 24, '07 : Reason: Made some typos, I couldn't see through the tears
  6. by   jnette
    I'm so very sorry.

    Any patient loss is difficult, but a child would be all the more so.

    (((((gentle hugs)))))
  7. by   AliRae
    My favourite died in January. He had been "ours" his whole life ... never went home. The only time he left our unit was a brief stint at a rehab hospital where I visited him frequently. He was my baby - I remember one time working a night in the NICU and getting a phone call to come to PICU STAT because D. couldn't get to sleep. I ran down, sang him his bedtime song and he was out for the count.

    When he died, I went to his funeral (good thing too, because his biological mother wasn't there) ... that helped with a sense of closure. I still have pictures of him though, and I still miss him a year later. And there have been others since him that I have loved and lost.

    People keep telling me not to do it, that I'll burn out. And that may well be true. But if I'm going to burn out, I want to burn out bright, dang it.

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