When a Nurse has been reduced to tears!

  1. Hello Community!

    So, I have stated many times before how I may be one of the toughest cookies to crack, but a patient today has finally broken down my barriers placed around my emotions.

    A 20 Year old ambitious young male saw me walking from my place of employment and stopped to ask advice. This patient was seen in our infectious disease unit, and told me his back story. He was molested at the age of 16 by 13 male perps, and in the process of being examined was diagnosed with HIV. I'm not certain of his time frame, but he explained he was in school for nursing & wanted advice on the nursing field. He burst into tears as he explained his dreams had been shattered & his T-cell count had dropped to a whopping 120. As I listened to his back story I couldn't help ,but say..."here I am complaining about the small things in life, and someone has been deprived of their future".

    So my question is, have you ever had that moment where you couldn't help but be reduced to tears by a patient?
    Last edit by Joe V on Feb 9, '12 : Reason: spacing
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  2. 12 Comments

  3. by   NurseLoveJoy88
    Oh yes, many times. One patient in particular got to me the most. He was a 34 y/o with HIV, ESRD, cancer and many other things going on. One time started to sob stating that he never thought he would be dying at such a young age. He said he misses going out to the movies and hanging around with his friends. He also had a little girl whom he barely got to see because her mother didn't want her around him.
    All I could do was to cry with him and wipe his tears. There was nothing I could say or do. Crying was the only way to express my empathy for him at the time. I still think about him to this day.
    So sad. Here I am c/o minor things when there is always someone worst of then me....
  4. by   sharpeimom
    the patient who got to me the very most was when i was a student nurse. she was a six year old named crystal (not her real name.)
    crystal had wispy white blonde hair and looked like a fragile angel. she was brought to the hospital after being ill for almost a month.

    her parents were very very poor and had no insurance, no car, no phone, no indoor plumbing, no electricity. she had been treated with herbs and ground roots. her weight dropped to 35 pounds. her appendix had ruptured, infection had set in, and to save her the surgeon
    had to remove her uterus, bladder, spleen, stomach, part of her colon, and her left lung.

    it took 3 weeks for her to die. inch. by. inch. by. inch. i still hear her screams in my nightmares.
  5. by   RNGriffin
    So true! I think we all take for granted how lucky(blessed) we really are. I guess tears happen to the best of us. Sometimes all you can do is extend your arms out to those who you can't lie to and say, "it gets better".
  6. by   bagladyrn
    I will always remember the young woman of another culture, advanced in pregnancy when she was diagnosed with breast cancer which had already spread to her bones and brain. Unable to sleep she said to me in her limited English : "Can't sleep, I close my eyes, my children cry and I'm not there". Nothing I could do but sit with her and hold her hand until her sleep meds took effect - Thanks always to my compassionate coworkers who covered my other patients so I could remain with her.
  7. by   prettymica
    Yes. As a hospice nurse and I am sometimes in a home 18 hours. Comforting family, the patient and friends. I realize I am complaint about superficial things and this person sometimes knows that life will be over in a matter or months, days, weeks, hours or minutes. I try to see the good in everyone and and live each day the best that I can. I also promise to make sure I give the best care to every patient and and to listen and comfort all whose presence I enter. I have never shed so many tears.
  8. by   mpink74
    I am a nursing student. I am such a big cry baby when it comes to stories about others going through such horrific tragedies. I'm wondering if I'll overcome this or will I be walking around the hospital crying all day?!!
  9. by   shawna.k
    I had one day that was emotional and heart-wrenching. I was a new nurse on med-surg, and still in my preceptorship. I had the privilege of one of our palliative care MD's asking me to be present with the rest of the palliative care team for a hospice consult. To hear my sweet pt talk about how she had lived her life and was ready to go melted me. The MD asked her questions about why she was at such peace with dying (in better wording, of course), and she just smiled and with complete faith said she was ready to see the Lord. I had emotions bubbling just under the surface, when another pt (DNR) passed a few hours later. I helped with the post-mortem care. I was ok, until the family returned to the room and expressed their appreciation for all the staff had done in caring for their loved one. I held it together until I got to the bathroom and locked the door. I let myself cry for about ten minutes, and it was very cathartic.
  10. by   rnsrgr8t
    I remember a teenage girl who had been in foster care her whole life. She was an actual success story because despite all of the dysfunction in her life, she had stayed in school, stayed out of trouble and was very articulate and well spoken for her age. I remember her caseworker saying she was her favorite and how much she loved her (never understood why she went through so many homes) She came into clinic with abdominal pain and it ended up she had advanced staged renal cell carcinoma (VERY rare for a child to get) that had metastized everywhere. I remember the night she was diagnosed, sitting in her bed alone crying. I just sat with her for awhile and held her hand. Her caseworker had stayed with her as long as she could but then had to go home. This poor girl had noone. She ended up transfering her care to an adult hospital (adult oncologists have more experience with this cancer than peds do) but I heard later on that she had passed away. She is one of the few patients the last few years that have made me cry (I have become a little hardened over the years and typically do not cry). I just cannot imaging getting such a horrible diagnosis and having no family around you to support you and she was such a good kid. I never understood why there was no foster family that would step up and keep her long term. So not fair!
  11. by   GitanoRN
    Quote from griffinchet
    Hello Community!
    So, I have stated many times before how I may be one of the toughest cookies to crack, but a patient today has finally broken down my barriers placed around my emotions.
    A 20 Year old ambitious young male saw me walking from my place of employment and stopped to ask advice. This patient was seen in our infectious disease unit, and told me his back story. He was molested at the age of 16 by 13 male perps, and in the process of being examined was diagnosed with HIV. I'm not certain of his time frame, but he explained he was in school for nursing & wanted advice on the nursing field. He burst into tears as he explained his dreams had been shattered & his T-cell count had dropped to a whopping 120. As I listened to his back story I couldn't help ,but say..."here I am complaining about the small things in life, and someone has been deprived of their future".
    So my question is, have you ever had that moment where you couldn't help but be reduced to tears by a patient?
    No one can deny, that this has happened to all nurses, for instance I was working at ED when the paramedics brought in a young lady in full scrubs. This pt. had been stabbed multiple times, as we watch her life slip away from her body, her mother stated "all she ever wanted was to finished her nursing program and help people" there wasn't a dry eye in the room. This is why I always say we nurses should be proud of what we have accomplish because "We are living someone else's dream"
  12. by   Cessna172
    I worked in ICU, and one patient happened to be a former nursing instructor of mine, whom I really liked and respected. I stopped in to say hi, and see if she needed anything, as she wasn't assigned to me. As I was about to walk out, I told her "I'll pray for you", (I meant on my own time, and place), but in her half demented state, she grabbed my hand, and I realized she wanted a prayer now. So I proceeded, but I left the room teary eyed. My co-workers saw, but didn't say anything.
  13. by   jessicamRN
    I will always remember this patient I had as a nursing student. She was a teenager in LPN school and she was brought into the surgical ICU because she had been in a car accident and was unresponsive at the scene. They revived her and she was intubated on a ventilator but alert and oriented (when not sedated). She would just mouth "help me", it was terrible. They had to do 2 surgeries on her neck because she was now a quadraplegic and the doctors weren't even sure if she'd ever be able to come off the vent. I just remember sitting in the family meeting and her mom (a nurse) hysterically crying because she knew what her daughters life would be like from now on and part of her wished they hadn't been able to revive her. Thinking about her still gives me chills.
  14. by   nursemarion
    So many times. I think the one that bothered me the most was a woman whose husband had put a shotgun in her mouth to kill her but all it did was destroy much of her face. She could never eat again, had limited vocalization and a tiny little opening for a mouth. Truly a horrific injury. She was young and this was now her life. I thought what would I do if I were her? He destroyed her life and he was in jail but what was she to do now? It tore me up inside to imagine that someone she once loved would do this to her. I wonder what other abuses she endured before it came to this. How terrified she must have been.

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