The patient I loved

  1. I graduated Nursing school in May 2008. I went almost directly into home health. I had 1 visit that the administrator went with me and I was set loose to be a nurse. This was to be the patient that made me know why I became a nurse. J was a 50 years old and morbidly obese at 650lbs. He was such a hoot from the beginning. His mom came and lived with him while he was sick and assisted him with his bathroom needs. J had a history of sleep apnea and an avascular right hip. Right before he became my patient he went into CHF, I suppose just due to his weight. He did not have diabetes or HTN. He was solely my patient and decided early on that I would get him up and moving! As time went on, I discovered many challenges getting equipment for him.

    Eventually, I got a bedside commode that accomadated 650lbs (GREAT). This took a while, shortly thereafter I was able to get him a trapeze for his bed. The initial reason we started seeing J was for wound care he had a small abcess that had been opened at the hospital that we were packing everyday other day. Slowly over the weeks it had become smaller. He came home with a foley and I was able to remove that! He was such a sweet man who also battled depression, I learned this some weeks into his care. I kept uplifting him and talking to him about getting up and getting back in his truck. He would tell his mom that I was his favorite nurse. I was flattered but not convinced.LOL We eventually got him an apnea machine but the company required him to come in for a sleep study. Now this is impossible due to his weight, inability to transport him and his general condition so the company picked up the machine.

    I fought it but was unsuccessful. His mom and I became close, I loved her like she was my grandma and she loved J with all her heart. Very rarely did she leave him at the house. He would tease me telling me I was a pain in his arse... That is were the wound was that I would pack. I had that wound the smallest it had ever been. And J was up in spirits too. I thought for sure he would be driving that truck by Christmas. I had been off for a few days and apparently J had a big huge boil come up on his right side. He had been taken by ambulance to the local ER. Given his weight this was a huge ordeal, had to wait for a big ambulance etc. I went to see him the day he came home. He was not his Santa Claus jovial self.

    Something just didnt feel right. The DRs had done conscious sedation to lance this boil and J kept telling me they put me too far under. His O2 sats were 90% on 2 L. He was adament he wasnt going back to the hospital. I told him I would give him 24 hours! J's mom called me, she was in a panic. J was so weak he couldnt move. I asked her to put him on the phone I wanted to speak to him. He was so lethargic he couldnt hold the phone. J's mom was power of attorney and I told her he needed to go to ER asap! My first thought was a PE. He still didnt want to go. I called his PCP and had his nurse call J's mom. Finally they went. The day before Christmas. Within 12 hours they had intubated him. This is something he told his mother he did not want. They never confirmed a PE because they couldnt fit him in the CT scan! I stayed in touch with the mom, dad and sister over the next 2 weeks. On a Sunday my cell phone rang.

    I remember it like it was yesterday, the female voice asked is this **** J's nurse? It wasnt his mom's voice. I knew instantly J was gone. I cried and cried. I literally sobbed over him and the pain his mom felt. I didnt know that last visit would be the last visit! He has been gone now since Jan and still think of him often. I even left home health so I wouldnt get so attached. I just got hired at a new company to return to Home Health. I believe that is where God wants me. I still smile in my heart that I got to be a part of J's life and death.
    Last edit by Joe V on Jan 9, '15
  2. 16 Comments

  3. by   SDA3694
    Oh no you are making me cry! There is always room for nurses like you! Thank you for sharing, God Bless you!
  4. by   jaspinder.bhullar
    o i really appreciate the care provided by u...
  5. by   ernursechic
    Thank you so much for your words of encouragement!
  6. by   ewere
    you are a genius ,keep the hardwork going
    Last edit by ewere on Jul 6, '09
  7. by   meintheUSA
    You are EXACTLY the kind of person I would want to take care of me if I ever become home-cared. Your reward is in J's fond memories he left you. Know you are doing the right thing. Home care is falling for complete strangers and letting them into your heart. J was truly blessed to have you care for him... :heartbeat
  8. by   scuba-girl
    I am sure you will see J in heaven some day
  9. by   Music_Box_Dancer
    I am truly sorry for your loss. I pray your memories of J and your continued connection with his mom can bring comfort to your heart. I too would be blessed to have a nurse like you care for me should that need arise. Thank you for making a difference. Your kind heart makes you vulnerable, but, in my opinion, that makes you a kind person and a wonderful nurse. Thank you for sharing.

    "'Tis better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all."
    - Alfred Lord Tennyson -
  10. by   TrishJK
    Such a sad story- and very well told. Thank you. I still think about the patients I have "loved and lost" (and it's many, because I work in aged care). Every day something will remind me of one of them - a certain radio station was always the station of choice for one, so I feel like I am listening for both of us, now. Another lady gave me a big tube of lotion and I think of her every time I use it - looking after my skin with it, rather than hers.

    Another elder with a rotten bloody disease that gave her great pain (she was on molto, molto opioids) refused to eat anything other than ice cream. She was a wee slip of a thing, her bones as fragile as a bird's, her skin bruised and thin. She was still beautiful; elegant. Her NoK told me she had "lived on the smell of an oily rag," had always made her own clothes and been scrupulous about her skin (she had a fabulous collection of expensive moisturisers).

    I said to her, "you HAVE to eat something, don't you?" (She was once a very senior nurse). She looked at me (with her eyes twinkling) and she said, earnestly (facetiously) deferring to my "authority", "Do I?" She used to lie in bed playing Bridge hands on the ceiling, in her mind (and she'd smile and say to me - "should I go kings or tens?" and I'd say - "you're the expert, 'Mary' - you tell me." Then she'd smile and say, "sometimes I win.")

    Just before she died, I went into her room one morning and said, "Good morning, 'Mary'." She opened her eyes and said, "Oh! I'm still alive! I thought at first you might be Jesus." I said to her, "I think maybe you still have something left in your life that you need to achieve." She thought about that for a while as I pottered around. Then she said, "I want to write my sister a letter." So I went and found paper and pen and sat by her bed to scribe for her (she was too weak to write).

    One of the phrases she spoke to her sister has stuck in my mind: "I think of you often and all of those memories are happy." And she signed the letter: "with ALL of my love - sometimes I win!!"

    I think the people we love never leave us - they leave something of themselves in us, that changes us; makes us more than we were....

    Sometimes I win!!
  11. by   ernursechic
    Thank you for your kind words. I have since talked to J's mom and told her I posted the article on a nursing forum. I try to talk to her 1 time a month. I really bonded with them both and try to be supported . I will have to print the article and take it to her. She is so funny, he always told her he wants his nurse(me) because he wanted to give me CPR! He used to be an EMT. He was a hoot!
  12. by   Music_Box_Dancer
    Quote from ernursechic
    I will have to print the article and take it to her.
    Dear J's Mom,

    After I read this post, I have thought of you often. I can only hope that my words, if even in the smallest of ways, can bring some comfort. I have found, through a loss of my own, that a complete stranger is just as capable of touching a heart when the sincerity is real. It is my true intent to relay my warmest, more sincerest thoughts.

    I know the loss of a child is the most significant loss there is; the immeasureable pain is thought to have no end and often a mother cannot bear to remember how that pain even started. But, the fact of the matter is, at the end of the day, you are one day closer to your beloved son.

    May your memories of J carry you through life, and help to sustain you. I will pray for your days to become brighter and those tomorrows to be embraced.

    Love from an empathizing mother...
  13. by   rivir25
    this telling is truly beautiful! It makes me happy to hear of someone with goodness in them to open their heart to a stranger. That he got to you in this way must also mean he was a beautiful person. Unfortunately, death is certain. The only requirement is to be alive. The best part of this whole situation is that you are able to tell it with so much love. As i read, i could feel the love jumping from the words. It was truly emotional!
  14. by   amateur
    this is so nice and dramatic. but i liked it....