Today I learned lessons that you just can't learn in nursing school
. I am working as a CNA on a telemetry unit while in school. For the last 3 days I have had the grandmother of a fellow nursing student as one of my patients. 2 nights ago she was put to comfort measures only as she started the dying process. When I left at 1900 last night I really didn't think she would be there when I got back this morning. But I got there at 630 today and she passed on at 0700. I was speechless as I stood at the nurses station watching the heart monitor as it went from trigeminy in the 90s, to the 40s, and then to 0. It was hard to take it all in that I was watching someones last heartbeats. The family was amazing. Yesterday they brought US flowers and candy to thank us for her care. When my patients husband was leaving this morning he gave me a hug and said that every Sunday morning for all the years they were married she had gotten up at 7am to get ready for church and this morning she got up at 7am to go to the best church service of life - the eternal service. I got goose bumps all over and broke down with him as we were hugging.
Yesterday one of my other patients was also switched to comfort measures only. His family and I hugged so many times today. He will not make it through the night (was in A-fib and trigeminy when I left). His family just kept telling him "Daddy, it's okay to let go. Go on and be with Jesus. Go where you can dance with Mama again." It was all I could do to get that blood pressure cuff off of him and get out of the room before I started crying. It's so hard to know what to do because I know in my heart that there is a better place than this world and that it's a time to rejoice when someone goes to Heaven. But at the same time, I have also become attached to my patient's family and I see the sadness and fear and pain in them and there is no way for me to ease that. I am going in to nursing to help people, but when you are so helpless because there is nothing more you can do it is hard.
I went home last night and just cried. Finally I decided to talk to someone who could understand what I was dealing with. I called a guy from my nursing class who also works at my hospital as an aide. We talked for a long time and he even called after my shift tonight to check on me and see how our classmate was holding up.
I talked to my nurse today and asked her if you ever get used to it. She said she never has and she also went home last night and cried. Yesterday we alternated crying in the break room. One of the most important things she told me today was that in nursing we deal with life and death situations every day, but we don't really deal with death itself every day (at least on our floor.) They don't teach you how to grieve in nursing school. I know it's always hard to lose a patient, but it was much more personal for me since I had a friend's grandmother die. I need a really good night's sleep tonight.
Thanks for reading this and I'm sorry I was long winded.