The Patients Who Break Your Heart - page 2

by VivaLasViejas Guide

31,770 Views | 62 Comments

From the earliest days of nursing school, when we were taught never to become "too involved" with our patients, we nurses find ourselves balancing precariously on the gossamer thread that separates caring for people and caring... Read More


  1. 15
    I remember a hospice pt who was close to death. He was a very sweet man. He said he needed to hear singing, and asked the CNA and me to sing for him. I don't know how we came up with our choice of song, but we sang that old Lennon Sisters song- "Mr. Sandman."

    I remember our voices cracking with emotion as we sang.... and that sweet man slipped peacefully away.
    Last edit by Hellllllo Nurse on Nov 15, '07
  2. 3
    Hellllo nurse, now I'm crying.

    What a song to go out to. And what a pleasant ending.
  3. 17
    That story reminds me of a resident at my current workplace, who had been on hospice for several months and was dying.........verrrrrrry..........sloooooooooowly. ...............the deterioration was so hard to watch.

    Finally, she fell into a coma, and her daughter and I were talking at her bedside as a hospice volunteer came into the room and set up a harp, got out her music, and began to play. It wasn't two minutes into the mini-concert that a slight smile flitted across the resident's lips, and then her entire body seemed to sigh with relief as she slipped away into the next world.

    It was without a doubt the most peaceful, and even beautiful, death I've ever witnessed. And as corny as this may sound, I still think of it as the day Mrs. L went to Heaven to the strains of the music of the angels.
  4. 5
    OMGoodness Allison. My soul hurts reading your story, perhaps more so because I have a 3 year old son. In any case, I am so glad that little girl is away from the evil being that tortured her so.

    Marla, thank you for opening this thread.
    Last edit by Elvish on Nov 15, '07
  5. 5
    I will be entering Nursing School in Jan. I always thought that I was prepared for this because this is what I've always wanted to do. I have had some interaction with patients years ago as a phlebotomist in a VA Hospital. However, as I sit hear reading all of your stories, my heart is aching and tears are welling up in my eyes. I am praying for God to give me the strength, prepare me, and walk with me on my journey!!

    Thanks for sharing your stories!!!
  6. 11
    You already have the strength........you just don't know it yet.

    All nurses have similar stories; I'm sure most of us have several books' worth of them. The thing is, no one other than nurses would read them....or could read them without losing their minds. That's what makes us different---we see people at their worst, and yet we are somehow able to go on with our lives. It doesn't make us especially noble..........just different. And very, very blessed.
    hp79, sharpeimom, judybsn, and 8 others like this.
  7. 10
    I decided ortho/cva rehab was the place I needed to work because I do attach so easily. 100% of our patients need caring, encouragment and nursing and 98% go home and improve. However, we had one man recently come through on and off a vent for 2 months now. Every time we thought he would have a good chance he ended up back in the hospital and then rehab. We grew close to his whole family and he was the sweetest man. You could find he and his wife holding hands or kisses at any given moment. The kind of love every girl wants. It came down to hospice care and the only thing on his mind was going home. He had respiratory issues and we thought he actually wouldn't make it to discharge. However, that Saturday he woke up, put his passey muir in and was like a child at Christmas. He was going home. We loaded him up and said our sad goodbyes. I hugged his wife and asked her please to have her daughter call me day or night. Sometime I never do but this was special. The next morning at shift change (I was coming on) her daughter called. They had gone to bed that night after a wonderful day with family and he didn't wake up. He had made it home, the only place he wanted to be and died next to the love of his life. She was left behind and my heart aches for her loss but he got to go home.
  8. 3
    I really enjoy this article and i hope i will continue get this types of article to read
  9. 0
    Thanks to all of you for sharing your own heartwarming stories!
  10. 4
    Quote from mjlrn97
    From the earliest days of nursing school, when we were taught never to become "too involved" with our patients, we nurses find ourselves balancing precariously on the gossamer thread that separates caring for people and caring about them. Being only human, of course, we sometimes cross the line despite our best efforts........and the nurse whose restless dreams are unpopulated by the ghosts of past patients must surely be a rare bird indeed.

    I'll never forget:

    .........The 29-year-old mother of four who was dying of cervical cancer. Cervical cancer! How many such ailments are both so easily cured, and so tragic when not caught in time? I cared for her during only a single shift, but something still haunts me about the way her mother sat for hours smoothing her long black hair across the pillow, and the quiet dignity that never allowed one word of complaint, even as the bitter pain of the disease and the heartache of her husband's deportation to Mexico at a time when she needed him most gnawed at her.

    Meanwhile, the children played quietly about the room as I performed the tasks which must be done; they seemed to know, somehow, that this was a solemn time, and yet they were polite and curious about what I was doing for their mother. I heard a few days later that she had passed on only a few hours after my shift ended; and my heart cried out angrily for an explanation which has never materialized, even to this day. I think maybe I am not meant to know......only to accept.

    ...........The elderly but still vibrant gentleman who had just been diagnosed with Stage III esophageal cancer and given an estimated six months to live. On the second evening after his diagnosis, he asked my advice on chemotherapy, radiation, and other matters; his mood was genial, and he seemed satisfied after I had presented him with several different options. At that point, he called his family together in his hospital room and talked with them for over two hours, after which discussion he put on his call light and asked me to walk with him around the floor for a short time. This I did gladly, as he was a very pleasant man and I enjoyed talking with him. Then he stopped me short with this six-word sentence: "I'm going to end my life".

    Of course, words of caution immediately sprang to mind---"You mustn't think like that", "Don't give up hope, there are still things they can do for you"---but died on my lips as I looked into his earnest eyes. This man meant what he said, and no psych consult, antidepressant drugs, or pleadings would stop him. I knew that as well as I knew my own name. Still, I begged him to reconsider, citing the devastation his suicide would surely wreak on his family and friends. Finally, he said, "All right, I'll think about it.........for your sake." I was so happy that he'd decided to hold off on harming himself, I hugged him right there in the hallway, and when I discharged him home the following evening, he reassured me that he would still 'think about it' before coming to any decision.

    The next day---or so the local newspaper said---this dignified, self-determined man walked out into his garage and shot himself in the head. And I've never told anyone about the conversation we had that night in the hospital.........until now.

    These are the patients who break my heart. Who is yours?
    Oh Marla, these two stories remind me of two that touched mine. The first one was similar to your own. The woman was a young mom who went for a D and C. Somehow the job got botched up, and the husband was told that the staff in our facility would splint her already flexing wrists.
    As she lay there, not knowing who cared for her, I thought about the young life that had been wasted by a wrong move.

    She was so young, and still had a lot of life to live. After all, she had children who needed her. Or so I thought.

    Day after day she lay, moving more and more into a fetal position, with us helpless to do anything about it except provide her daily care. She lived about three months before she died. It took a lot out of me to see a person so young die like that.

    Your second story reminds me of a retired banker who got a job as a school bus driver. He was the driver, and my daughter was the aide on a bus of handicapped children. I rode on the bus when I went to visit my daughter.

    He was a true gentleman, who warmed the bus up before my daughter arrived, and who always bought his little passengers a gift for their birthdays and for Christmas.

    Then so unlike him, he was late for work one morning. His boss began to question what was wrong, and began to call his family, since there was no answer at his home.

    The following day, on the front page of the newspaper was headlines that read Triple Murder Suicide. As we read the article, we learned that his daughter had been contacted, and learned he had been diagnosed with cancer.

    He and his wife had a son who they cared for with down syndrome and some other brain damage. Not knowing what would happen to them, he walked up behind his wife who was standing at the sink washing dishes and shot her in the back of the head with his hunting rifle. Then he went in his son's bedroom where he lay in his bed, and shot him in the head, finally, he took his own life the same way.


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