I work on a Telemetry floor (only 1 year of nursing experience) and I recently had a patient post Burr hole surgery for a subdural hematoma. She didn't recover well and was basically in a vegetative state, although she was awake. She could barely talk or move, just stared at me and her family, and was fed via OJ tube feeding. Her family made the decision to stop the tube feedings and send her to hospice care. Her husband did have power of attorney and a copy of her living will was present on the chart, which was in accordance with her husband's wishes. I then removed the OJ tube and she was given comfort measures only at that point until she was transported to a hospice facility.
Maybe it's just the fact that I haven't been doing nursing long enough and this was my first patient like this, but I felt so guilty about stopping her feeding and when I left that day I cried. I know it was her wishes to not be kept alive by "artificial" means, but I feel like I was killing her. I feel like I killed another person!!!! I know it's silly to feel this way and that to the patient and her family I was only respecting her dignity as a human being, but my conscious feels guilt that I contributed to the "death" of someone. I know that medicine is not always about "curing" the patient and that she didn't have much quality of life at that point, but I can't help feeling this way.
I tried explaining this to my family (none of whom are in the medical field) and they just don't get it. I was depressed for a week after that happened, and my family doesn't understand. Anyone ever face anything similar? Is this something that will get easier with over time?