I am a new lpn, working in a small rural hospital. Last week my charge nurse died in an mva on the way home from work (12 hour night shift) I and pretty much all my coworkers had noticed that she was not "all with it" her notes were indecipherable, and she was slurring her words by the end of the shift. She had recently lost a son to a drunk driver (three months ago) this was the second son who had died the same way. I am feeling very guilty about not talking to her, stopping her, etc. Being new I felt intimidated to confront her about her mental status ( i chalked it off as having low blood sugar, knowing instinctively it was not) anyway the our last night on shift together just happened to be very busy and hectic and she was rotating between the floor and ER. We got the call in the hospital about 20 minutes after she had left ( the report not specifying who was involved) and I and another nurse looked at one another and knew it was her. I should have not been so ******* chicken and said something to her. Now there is her new widower (married in may) her remaining children and even grandchildren left without her because I am a coward. Hindsight is 20/20 and if I knew then what I know now it would have been different ( I would have knocked her cold if thats what it took) I realize that God doesn't give you more than you can handle but I cannot fathom the tradgedy that has come on this family. I was one of the last people that had spoken to her and even questioned her on her funky ass notes (respectively suggesting she look over and revise them as I couldn't understand them) I knew she was under the influence of something and said nothing. I don't think that I have fully absorbed the grief and remorse in which I feel. I have tucked it deep in the back of my mind and conscious and gone on with my life, duties, etc. It is just all so sad, she and I were working together the night the call came in about her son, and she was off for a couple of weeks and came back and seemed fine. Too fine. I was so scared to say anything (like I would be reminding her of anything painful) The grief she was experiencing was so deep I felt scared to go there. All these emotions I feel I share with other nurses who were and are in the same situation as me, knowing and not doing anything about it. There is nothing I can do about the situation now, nothing will ease the grief of the people who love her left behind. And the thing that shames me most about the whole situation was how I looked at the nurses notes she opened of mine and kind of giggled about them with my coworkers ( like, what the hell is this?) I feel ashamed and disgusted with myself for not taking that clue as SOMETHING IS WRONG HERE. This whole situation makes me question my character as a person, that I was too damned scared to talk to her and see if there was anything I could do to help. We weren't really close but still, my heart ached for her loss. I even rehearsed different things I could say or do for her that might help her in her grief. I made the choice of saying and doing nothing out of fear. Now she is dead. I am sorry I made this post so long, I have really not dealt with the whole thing. Trajic.
Nov 10, '06
sorry for all you are going through
try not to beat yourself up too much
i wish you better days ahead
Nov 10, '06
I am so sorry for your loss. It is so easy to see what should have been done in retrospect, but there was no way for you to know this would happen before it did. You state that you are a new lpn. I understand your hesitancy to get involved and discuss her personal life with her. Most of us are not trained to intervene in a meaningful way in situations like this anyway. Get some professional help for yourself to help you deal with the guilt and grief that you feel now. Work to make this learning a step toward being able to intervene in situations in the future if need arises.
I went to nursing school because a man in the theater had a heart attack right in front of me and I was at a total loss of what to do. Now I am an ER nurse and would be able to help in an appropriate fashion. Don't beat yourself up for not being able to help in this case. My prayers are with both you and your charge and her family. God bless.
Nov 15, '06
Just like the others said... You can not feel like this, and feel it was some how partly your fault. I know what you mean, and what you're saying, and I think almost any of us would feel the same way. That is normal to feel like you are. You wouldn't be a very caring person if you didn't. I know it's hard to approach someone that is under the ifluence, especially if you are not great friends, and also you work under them! I mean how are you really supposed to do that? You're gut tells you too, but it also tells you to mind your business kind of because you could get yourself mixed up in a bad situation with her. I know, ... now she's gone... But you couldn't have known that, and you didn't. I truly think that if I were in the same situation I wouldn't have done anything either. It's a scary thing to do... What if she got insulted and put in a complaint about you? Or whatever? Yes, now she is gone... But what if she wasn't gone and it never happened. Maybe it is a little cowardly... but I think it's human instinct to back off of situations like that. I think it's wrong... but I also think it's what most people would do... Don't beat yourself up about it. It can't bring her back, and you at least have a very big heart and are checking yourself, and wondering about it. She is the one responsible for her actions... not you. Although I understand where she was coming from and the pain she was going through. But it's not your responsibility. God knows you care... That's what really matters in the end anyway... Take care, and just be happy you feel for this woman and are human and normal.... ~ Erin
Nov 15, '06
Hind sight is always 20/20. In real life, we are given our own set of priorities and push buttons. We are not given the gift of forsight. We cannot blame ourselves for what we say or don't say. You may have had "feelings" but unless she directly pressed your buttons the right way, there is no way you were going to confront your superior about her word slurring or poor penmanship! In reality, you did not want to confront her because you did not want to add insult to injury. What could you have said, given the circumstances as you knew them?
If you believe in a higher power, then you are aware that He has a plan for us all. You confronting her that day was obviously not part of the plan. Maybe He called her home to be with her son.
Don't fret, or be hard on yourself. You will solve nothing by beating yourself up about this. Find peace with the situation as it is what it is. Nothing can change it.
Nov 17, '06
I just want to thank you all for your kind words. And you are right, there is a bigger plan in life that I have no control over. If I am in the same situation God forbid, again I will definetly speak up. This whole experience for me is a wake up call on choosing love over fear.
Nov 11, '07
Hey Mirasmommy thanks for sharing your heart about this tragic episode. i think it is great that you can and have learned from it You are not able to control the events that take place in anothers life, and yea maybe things would have been different that night if you had said something, but also I think the lady had some deep greif and issues in her life that she had not beeen able to deal with. It is a shame she did not seek out some help and support earlier. The tragedy may not have occurred that night but would likely have occurred at some stage. You have become a better person through it all so take heart and courage and prees on. You will do things differently in future. Y=thankyou again for your honesty. I think that is part of healing for yourself. Get some support from the right place or people, talk it through, grieve and keep moving forward. God Bless Donna
Nov 11, '07
Honey, we can't predict, and we are not omniscient. Of course you would have done things differently knowing what you know now. But you didn't know it then, so stop blaming yourself for being human.
Nov 11, '07
Its all so very very sad. May she be with her two sons she had lost.
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