What Is The Shift You Will Never Forget? - page 2

by bsartor

6,238 Views | 38 Comments

Hello, I'm not a nurse yet, although I have been a Mental Health Tech and a PCT. I love reading your nursing stories on here. I would love to hear about the moments (good or bad) in your career that changed you or that... Read More


  1. 7
    Mine was my last shift with my home care patient. (I also work in PICU and care for her in both places)

    I started caring for Elizabeth when she was just six months old, newly home from the NICU - trach, home vent and post-Norwood (the first of three planned palliative surgeries for hypoplastic right heart/ pulmonary atresia).

    Three years later she had survived her other two surgeries (barely in the case of #2), a pulmonary hemorrhage, got off the vent and was doing well. She got decannulated and parents no longer needed regular nursing care.

    I had never (obviously) heard Elizabeth's voice. It was my last shift - a rare afternoon shift so mom and dad could go out and celebrate their anniversary. I knocked on the door and mom let me in. From behind the couch- up pops Elizabeth - all smiles. She and mom worked with speech for two weeks on this- my greatest gift. Elizabeth said, "Hi Mary!'

    PS: In the intervening year and a half, Elizabeth's mom has had a healthy son, and in a few months, my girl will start kindergarten.
  2. 3
    There was the night I was 007. I'm still a legend on that unit and I've not been on that floor in four years.

    The first death was expected. The patient had terminal cancer and was a favorite of everyone on the floor. Young man, baby girl at home. He'd survived childhood ALL only to end up with head and neck CA as an adult, probably from the full body XRT he'd received as part of his chemo regimen. Early in the morning, around 0100, he passed away, all of his family around him - it was awful. The MD actually helped me get this pt ready for the morgue, helped with the paperwork and the phone calls, the whole bit. (He's an attending now and is still a wonderful MD - has a mom who's a nurse so he was raised right!)

    So the charge RN comes down around 0430 to get updates on my remaining patients. The lab tech is coming around the floor and stops at one of my pt's rooms and comes back out - this pt has a port-a-cath and lab can't draw from central lines. "Okay," I said, "just leave the vials on the door and I'll get them in a few minutes." (This was pretty much what the techs would do - they'd tape the little baggies to the window on the door and then we'd go and draw the labs.)

    So I finished my updates with the charge nurse, during which time this patient, whose door had been left open by the lab tech, was playing with either a straw or a plastic knife on the tray table and it was very disturbing. The Charge RN got up and spoke to him ("I'm just gonna pull your door shut, ok, Mr. X?") and he nodded his head and the charge RN closed the door. (This guy was lucid, A&Ox4, the whole bit - St IV SCLC - isn't it funny how you can remember dx?) The charge RN and I talked for no more than two or three more minutes, and she left.

    Okay - so this is what happened next: I had five patients, not counting the earlier death. I stood up from the table, got my stuff to draw Mr. X's labs and put it in my pocket (keep in mind the supply pyxis was literally right in front of me, so that took probably all of five minutes), rounded on my other four patients (stuck my head in the door - are they breathing - everything good - maybe ten minutes?), and then knocked on Mr. X's door. I got no answer - not really a surprise - and slipped into the room and turned on an unobtrusive light.

    "Mr. X? I'm here to get your labs."

    No answer.

    "Mr. X?" And I tapped him and that's when I realized he was dead. Well, I thought he was - I pulled out my stethoscope - nothing. (Putting your steth to a soundless chest is almost creepy in a way.) Holy crap.

    I snuck outside the room - pulled down the chart box - confirmed he was DNR for my own sanity - pulled his door shut - went and found the doctor from earlier and told him my tale of woe.

    His response? "You're &*#$ing me."

    Well, I wasn't.

    So after we checked him (and God bless this MD, the first words out of his mouth were, "I'll call donor services if you'll call the morgue"), I went and told the charge RN.

    "Mr. X just passed."

    No kidding - night shift offgoing charge AND day shift oncoming charge BOTH SAID AT EXACTLY THE SAME TIME "You're ^&$*ing me." And I answered, "Is EVERYONE going to say that when I tell them this?"

    My best friend is still on this unit (I was civilian at the time) and this story is apparently still being passed around...I've even been introduced as, "This is Carolinapooh, she's the one who's 007" to RN's I've never met before who now work there....
  3. 1
    Two full term fetal demise' in one shift. We are a small 16 bed LDRP Unit at about 80 deliveries a month so we don't have to deal with fetal demise often, and very rarely full term.

    I walked onto the floor and saw a handful a grown men sobbing. For this family it was their second loss of a child. The first just a year earlier when their toddler had a swimming pool accident. They were coming in for an induction and there were no heart tones when they went to hook her up. She said the last time she had felt baby was earlier in the morning before she came in. She had a perfect looking little girl and left empty handed just hours after she delivered. It was absolutely gut wrenching to watch her and her husband walking silently out of their room leaving their sweet baby girl in the bassinet. We swaddled her and the charge nurse walked her down to the morgue in her arms.
    We were still a mess from that one when the other demise delivered.
    Cried the entire way home from work!
    DeLanaHarvickWannabe likes this.
  4. 0
    Oh my linzjane88 what a heartbreaking shift!
  5. 1
    I have two. One was when I was at clinical and witnessed a pt. throw a PE. He went from being a walkie talkie to throwing up massive amount of blood, and dying. He went from laughing to dying all within 10 minutes.
    Second one was when I saw a steronomy performed at bedside. Once again, this patient appeared to be stable then all of a sudden we were opening up her chest.....
    DeLanaHarvickWannabe likes this.
  6. 0
    Quote from crazy&cuteRN
    I have two. One was when I was at clinical and witnessed a pt. throw a PE. He went from being a walkie talkie to throwing up massive amount of blood, and dying. He went from laughing to dying all within 10 minutes.
    Second one was when I saw a steronomy performed at bedside. Once again, this patient appeared to be stable then all of a sudden we were opening up her chest.....
    Is would be one of mine. I was about 2 mo ths into the ICU when this happened. Nice man, lung CA 60 years old. He had a known embolus. They were waiting transfer out of our community hospital to have this procedure but there were no beds. The goal was to not let this guy cough. I was scared. It was night shift and he had been sleep soundly no coughing for hours. He was due for his codeine, and I saw him standing up to pee in his urinal, got the medicine, came back into the room to settle him him his bed and give him his meds. Nxt second blood out of his nose, coughing it up, he was talking asking for his O2 while this is going on until he went into vfib. It was horrific. He died. I was devastated. The hospitality told me he was a ticking time bomb and there was nothing that could have been done.

    I'll never forget it. My coworkers remembered it for years to come too.
  7. 0
    On the bad side.......

    Had a gentleman with head and neck cancer - advanced. He had a metal trach as I recall. Nice man. He was in ICU, and we were weighing him on the sling-type scale. Got him up in the air and the cancer eroded his carotid artery........
  8. 0
    Quote from marycarney
    On the bad side.......

    Had a gentleman with head and neck cancer - advanced. He had a metal trach as I recall. Nice man. He was in ICU, and we were weighing him on the sling-type scale. Got him up in the air and the cancer eroded his carotid artery........
    That is just about the most awful visual I can imagine.
  9. 0
    Mercifully, it was very, very fast.....
  10. 1
    I have a few memorable shifts:

    The time I got the dead pt from the ER. She was not a DNR wither. We coded her got a hold of her family and they had us extubate her immediately. She passed away peacefully after that. The staff still tease me about it 6 years later.

    The shift in the ICU where I had to meet my co worker in IR. I brought the pt back with her and got him hooked up to the ICP monitor and his ICP was 80. He was taken immediately to CT scan and we took him immediately to OR. He was in IR for vasospasam and he started swelling after and we had to take him to OR to remove his bone flap and release pressure. He never did walkout of the hospital. He ended up with a trach and peg and in a nursing home. I have no idea how he is doing now.

    There is the day I walked in had an orientee and a pt who was a GSW to the head through and through. He was tachy for us all shift and febrile. Nothing worked to break the fever. We put in a cooling cath and the he got so cold he was brady. This kid could never regulate his own temp again. He went to OR to have a second bone flap removed. He eventually died in a LTAC.

    I remember the shift we emptied out the unit. They took a nurse from us. We got 5 admits in 2 hours. We got one from OR, one from a sister hospital with a GCS of 5, one from Up North, one from another hospital who was a GCS of 3, and there was another admit I can't remember where they came from. They were mostly critical. I asked for a nurse back and was told no. If not for amazing team work we would have never handled it.

    I remember the day I walked in and we were starting to get 3 admits right away. The first air lifted from a sister hospital and critical. Another from a different sister hospital, critical AVM rupture, and one from the OR who was GSW to the head. Suprisingly the GSW to the head was the least critical. I had to make room for all three of them. We had help from the supervisor to transfer out of the unit the ones who could go. If not for all our team work I have no idea how we would have handled the influx of all these critical patients.
    DeLanaHarvickWannabe likes this.


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