Tips for Surviving Nursing: The Trauma of caring - page 2

I'm pretty sure my first post here was maybe in 1997...as a newly recovering addict. After 34 years in this profession, mostly in PICU and nearly 98% pediatrics, I realized today that I am indeed traumatized by my past. I came... Read More

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    i am forever gratefull to the staff who work in the neo-natal field for the care given not only to my son but to my wife and myself. born 11 weeks prem and with a lot of the "typical" problems he was a sick little boy. i remember feeling jealosy of the staff who could touch him while he was too small for me to hold, it took 2 1/2 weeks before i could hold him, or while i was at work or looking after my other son, but knew he was in great hands.

    while my little boy thrived, (the staff nicknamed him the "dead-set-legend") others in the unit didn't do so well. my wife and i saw the loss felt when the struggle for life ended and could feel the grief in the room. i know that the care offered freely by the staff made the grief harder but hope that the "graduates" bring an equal joy.

    my son is now starting high school and plays football and even gets the odd "a" for his schoolwork. the tiny babies can grow up and no-one will know that they had to struggle to live, but their parents remember and they remember the staff that helped during that very hard time. so on behalf of my family and others in a similar circumstance....................... thankyou!!!!!!!!!
    sandygator and Elvish like this.

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    I want to thank you as well from a mother of a child who spent time in the NICU. I know how you feel. I worked the NICU as a paramedic. God Bless and keep you always. Thank you so much for all that you have done and do.
    sandygator likes this.
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    Dear Friend:
    I know....my God, I know. Any PICU nurse who has spent more than a few years will echo your experiences with empathy. I appreciate your candid admission about substance abuse. Let me assure you, we are all abusers of something- food, alcohol, shopping, drugs. They all serve the same purpose, to make us forget for just a little while that our jobs really suck at times. We remember the victories, which are our salvation. But we are haunted by the tragedies. I have flashbacks of the 4 year old meningicoc meningitis who was dead within 2 hours of admission. The indescribable color of his skin, purpuric and bloated from fluid. The permanent indentation of his sternum from endless compressions. The bloody oozing from every stick and every orifice. And worse of all, the wrenching cries from the mother and father who had to see the futility of our work and the violence left behind. That I could forget those moments forever.
    I also have the memory of promising an anxious mother who accompained her chronically ill child in respiratory distress that once we assisted her breathing with a vent, that "everything will be just fine- I promise." Little did I know that her daughter would be successfully and uneventfully intubated and 2 minutes later be in full arrest- and die, after 2 hours of desperate interventions. We did everything right, and she still died. I sedated an awake, talking child who was terrified and hypoxic (she had an extensive cardiac hx) telling her I would take care of her and she died under my watch. Walking in with my most respected and competent attending MD to tell this family their child was dead was the pinnacle of horrific anguish, clinging to the mother, sobbing I was so sorry- I had broken a promise. Everything was supposed to be okay and.. it was not. From that day on, I never make promises to my patients. The feeling of responsibility haunts me to this day.
    Friend, if those things don't do damage to our hearts and souls, I don't know what will. It is by the grace of God we persevere. Only through sharing our stories will we realize we are not alone. Silence is deadly. I realize I have not shared that story with anyone, the shame still is so near and real for me.
    You will have my prayers. Please do the same for me.
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    heelgal,
    Thank you so much for sharing. I hope it lightened your burden.
    My prayers are with you.
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    Thank you for your courage to express yourself so honestly. You talked about the horrific things you saw as a PICU nurse. You talked about how you let yourself slip into addiction to cope with it all.

    But you've changed that now. You've made a decision to get into recovery. They say that the first step in recovery (from ANY addiction) is to be able to admit that your way of coping doesn't work anymore.

    I recently started a blog about how I cope with the stress of nursing. You see, I'm NOT willing to sacrifice my soul for nursing. I LOVE my patients...don't get me wrong. For 12 hours at a time, I am devoted to them like nobody's business. But I'm no longer willing to "keep it all in" and to come home and go into MUTE mode.

    I'm not willing to risk addiction, alcoholism, over shopping, overeating, depression, isolation or self-abuse over this career. It's like saying, "Something isn't right here...I'll show you, I'll drink this poison!" Who gets hurt? We do.

    Not worth it to be silent any more!

    Good for you. Keep doing your steps of recovery. Work with someone who has gone before you. You're doing great!
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    Wow, what a poignantly written piece! You have a true gift for communication and insight. How could one not be impacted by such autrocities on the most vulnerable of us...our infants. Thank you for the work you do in the face of monumental conditions over which you have no power to change. Your heart and your gifts shine through your writing. I can see the depth of your caring and insight which are profound. Thank you for the person you are. I wish for you peace and realization of your specialness.


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