There are many things I love about nursing, however there are some things that are really soul crushing. Like, having a 90 year old patient, who is a full code, trached, has a peg, multiple pressure sores, infections, renal failure, heart failure, S/P CVA , GCS of 8 or less and the family wants EVERYTHING done.
Maybe it is just me but if it were my loved one I would not want them to suffer. I've been on the other side. I know what it is like to have someone you love become sick and be at deaths door. I know what it is like to hang on to a that little bit of hope that makes you believe that their prognosis will change; and sometimes it does.
However, it pains me to see a 90 year old, who is frail and clearly is miserable to be made a full code to appease the family. I know it is hard to let go of loved ones, at the same time it should be just as hard to see them suffer.
I feel for the husband of my 90 year old patient. They had been married 60 plus years. Every time he comes to visit her, tears swell in my eyes. He is so affectionate and caring towards her and honestly believes she will return to baseline and come back home.
I can't imagine what he must be feeling. I empathize with him. When he asks me how she is doing? I lie and say she's comfortable. That comforts him. Even though I know she isn't comfortable. The 25mcg of fentanyl ordered doesn't even touch the surface of managing her pain and discomfort, and ofcourse the doc doesn't want to order anything else despite the plea of us nurses.
We offered hospice, we offered counseling, we offered support but to no avail. The husband still refuses and wants us to do everything we can for his wife. Every time I touch his wife she grimaces and gives me a look of agony. All I can do is say "I'm sorry" every time I have to assess, suction, or change a dressing. I hate seeing my patient suffer, especially those who are in their 80's to 90's. They lived a long life, why can't the family understand this and let them die with dignity, instead of tubes inside every orifice of their body?
Once again, this is soul crushing. I feel guilty for feeling like this, but I see this so often and sometime wonder how much more I can take.