making a difference

  1. Every nursing student will have those certain experiences that they will never forget. I would like to share one of mine with you all...

    I was taking care of a sedated patient during one of my clinicals on a neuro floor last semester. The doctors didn't think he would make it through the previous night, due to his failing heart, but he did. When I reported for clinical in the morning, we were told he would not make it to the end of the day. He had been made palliative and was on morphine for comfort, though he never fully looked at peace. His wife, who was disabled and in a wheel chair, came to visit him for the last time. We left her alone with him in his room for a while before going in with the chaplain to talk to her. When we entered the room, she tearfully began telling us stories of their happier days together. His hair was a mess from turning him all day, and she said that he was always particular about his hair and loved having it parted to the side. The nurse I was with said, "Well why don't we go get him a shampoo cap and get his hair looking all nice for him?" She loved the idea, and I left to go get a warm shampoo cap. I returned, put the cap on his head, and began massaging his scalp. Within second, his unpleasant look on his face turned into a smile. His wife immediately began crying, saying that is the look she remembered. I continued to massage his head for twenty minutes or so, just to give him those final moments of peace before his wife left. She held his hand up until the minute she had to go, and thanked us as she left for letting us see the version of her husband that she remembered.

    Did we have to go and get a shampoo cap? No. But what my nurse taught me that day is that the smallest things really can and do mean the world to people. It took no extraordinary effort at all to fix his hair, but it obviously meant the world to his wife, and brought him comfort in his final hours. I will never forget that patient, his wife, or my nurse.

    Please share any great nursing stories you have so we can all learn from each others' effort.
  2. Visit LucyO. profile page

    About LucyO.

    Joined: Apr '13; Posts: 3; Likes: 9
    Nursing Student; from US


  3. by   donk
    Ok that honestly just made me tear up
  4. by   weemsp
    THAT is a beautiful and refreshing story!!! Thank you for sharing that experience!!
    That is why we went into nursing, after all, isn't it??
    Sometimes it isn't the meds we give, we orders we carry out or the best medical interventions....sometimes it's the simplest act of caring...THAT is being a nurse!!
  5. by   NightNerd
    Experiences like this are what make working in palliative care and hospice worth it for me. Thank you for sharing this awesome story, LucyO!

    Where I work, the extra efforts do make all the difference. Even if a patient's pain is controlled, there is usually something more we can do to make a patient's final days better for them. For some folks, it is things like getting a nice bath and smelling better. One lady I remember was also very particular about her hair, so we took an extra ten minutes every day to help her blowdry and style it, which always set the tone for a good day for her and a good shift for us. For other folks, it is being able to hear or see something important. One man's wife was in our hospice, and he was very hard of hearing and could not hear her as her voice became quieter and weaker. We set up a baby monitor system so she could speak into it and he could hear from the other piece. They were both able to hear and say the words, "I love you," before she became unresponsive and passed a couple days later. THAT was another one of those moments where we all teared up a little bit.

    I would also love to hear other stories like this! It is always a great reminder to do more than our job descriptions call for.