The Patients Who Break Your Heart - page 3
by VivaLasViejas Guide | 32,223 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
working in an inpt hospice facility, i see heartbreak far too often.
i hesitate to share, fearing exposure of my pts/families.
what i can share, however, is i would have fallen apart a long, long time ago, if i didn't have God next to me, at all times.
He truly is my strength and inspiration.
i just can't imagine life (or death) without Him.
leslieLast edit by sirI on Nov 21, '07 : Reason: corrected quote
- 11-13-2007 02:00 pm by allison2008
the first patient to break my heart was my first pediatric code. it makes me cry to think about it. i remember her name, the date, what she was wearing, everything. i was a newly graduated medic who worked for a small county. we repeatedly visited the same address to pick up a "clumsy" 3-year-old. her mother couldnt have been older than 19, and dad didnt speak english, but he was always yelling at her in spanish. we trekked this baby girl to the er with bruises, fractures and bloody noses atleast twice a month. i mentioned to the ed staff that maybe social services needed to be called in. that just made it worse. the mother begged with them not to do anything. she didnt want to be deported. she swore that baby girl was just a clumsy toddler and that no one was hurting her. it was out of my hands. the last time we picked up the baby girl, she wasn't breathing anymore. she had blood coming from every orifice in her body. her mother was screaming histerically in the front yard. i radioed for the police to please hurry. i picked up baby girl in my arms and rushed her to the back of my rig. i did everything i could. pals was not enough to save her broken little body. i followed her through the ed, contuining compressions with sweat dripping down my face. after an hour of compressions, 6 shocks and 4 rounds of meds, the ed doc came up behind me and said, "allison... you need to stop now. shes gone." i just wanted to hold her and tell her how sorry i was that her life was the way it was. i just wanted to take her pain away. i was so mad at everything.. why couldnt i save her? why didnt anyone else care? she was just a baby!!!! upon autopsy, it was found that she died from a perforated bowel... the day she died, she was sodomized and beaten so badly by her father, that it took her life. i sat in the back of the ambulance that night and cried for baby girl. i prayed that her parents would be put in jail forever and never be allowed to have more children. but when i think about her now... i know that her life with god is better than any life she ever had here.
one day when she got off the bus, her father was there to greet her with, "come on brat." i felt like punching him.
other times her mother would stand on the lawn with her hands on her hips and her siblings playing behind her.
i tried to get close to her, but i could see she was afraid. i made a list of all of the kids in the elementary school, and gave them turns working the door for all the other kids.....elementary, middle, and high. when it came her turn, i managed to get her to stand by me while i showed her how to work it. but she was afraid. it broke my heart.
but one day as i was returning her home, i met her mother and the siblings going out in a car. when i arrived at the house, (oh i wanted to take her home with me instead.)she slowly got off the bus. when she got to the door, it opened a crack to let her in. i knew her father was alone with her. i had all i could do to refrain from calling the authorities. it was against the policy of the bus company.
then one day, the older, nasty natured teacher she had, but imho didn't need, approached the bus to see if she was there. it was then that i told her she wasn't and knowing it was a teacher's responsibility to report abuse, i told her i felt she was being sexually abused. her response was, "life is tough." oh i was insensed. i felt like reporting her, because it put a scar on my mind that will never go away.
my heart broke for that poor little baby girl. i was glad when they moved away so i wouldn't have to pick her up anymore, knowing i was helpless to call the authorities myself.Last edit by sirI on Nov 21, '07 : Reason: corrected quoted text
- 1Quote from mjlrn97How true, Marla.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.
- 3Nov 21, '07 by sunnydaydreamThere is one patient that has always stayed with me. He had just retired and him and his wife were getting ready to enjoy retirement when he was dx'd with a brain tumor, gbm, and ended up at our facility to be cared for (he was in his 70's as she was too). I had gotten really close to all the family and the patient. He had talked about how he didn't want his wife or family there when he passed away, but the wife kept telling us how she wanted to be there and how she didn't want him to be alone.
A week before he passed away me and another co-worker had gotten a cake and flowers so that they could celebrate their anniversery that day. It luckily was a day that he was pretty with it cognitively. A week later, the night before he passed away a unexpected snow storm came through after the wife went home. That morning I was called into work because I lived close and could get in. I went into work and was working a different unit and as I was walking up the hall I checked on this patient and could tell that he wasn't doing good. The nurse called the wife who then tried to get in, but got stuck, he passed away without her there, but also he was not alone as me and my co-worker buddy stayed with him.
That day has always stayed in my mind. It's odd how things like that happen.Last edit by sunnydaydream on Nov 21, '07 : Reason: typo
- 17Nov 22, '07 by VivaLasViejas, ASN, RN GuideA year or so ago, there was one couple in my assisted living facility who were about to celebrate their 56th wedding anniversary. Since both were in poor health, I was concerned that it could be their last; so several of us got together and put on a party for them. And I mean, we did it up right---we outfitted the upper balcony with twinkling white lights and a formal table, then bought champagne, dinner from their favorite restaurant, and cake. Even the administrator got into the act, serving the couple in a suit and tie with a napkin over his arm while the rest of us ran up and down the stairs fetching whatever they needed. It was a night they told us they would never forget........and when the husband passed on a few months later, we all were thankful that we'd made it special for them.
The picture of the beaming couple, seated at the table that we'd set with silver and gold decorations, still sits on the fireplace mantel in the facility. And even though he is gone now, she still likes to talk about how much that celebration meant to them.
And that's why I love geriatrics.
- 18Dec 4, '07 by nursechic1968As a hospice nurse of 15 yrs I have had many wonderful patients who have touched my life in countless ways...but one in particular will remain in my heart forever.
"Johnny" was bright, handsome, mischevous 39 yr old young man who always had a smile and never missed an opportunity to engage me in some friendly banter. His mother once commented that we sounded like two siblings "arguing". "Johnny" agreed and from that day forward I was his "sister".
Diagnosed with Friedreich's ataxia at age 5, Johnny" was in a wheelchair by age 9 and blind by age 20...by the time he graduated college at age20 he was blind His disease progressed very rapidly leaving him confined to bed, his speech severely impaired, his spastic limbs in constant uncotrollable motion and totally dependent.
But for "Johnny" giving up was out of the question. He had a goal - to the be longest surviving person with his severe form of Friedreich's. If he could just make it one more year.
I am now ashamed to admit that when I first met my beloved friend, I was overcome with pity and sorrow for a life so tragic and wasted. I prayed that God would quickly and mercifully release "John" from this horrible existence. Thankfully, that prayer went unanswered.
Over the next 2 yrs I had the honor of being both nurse and "sister" to this amazing man. We spent hours laughing, talking, crying. We talked about God and the angels he believed were all around him. We explored religion, contemplated the meaning of life and talked about death. We took imaginary trips to incredible places, describing in rich detail all we saw. Sometimes we created mythical creatures, even giving them names and personalities. Mostly we talked about what "Johnny" knew best - love. Johnny loved everything and everybody - The God who had created him "special", the family who devoted thier lives to his 24 care and happiness, his friends and all who touched his life.
At the end of each visit I would kiss "Johnny's" cheek and tell him I loved him. Usually he would say he loved me too, but one day he remained quiet for several minutes and then begin to tell me how much he wished he could hug and kiss me in return. Unable to control his facial muscles enough to purse his lips, he was embarassed. Finally I convinced him to try and pressed my check to his mouth - that big wet slobbery "baby-like" kiss was the best kiss I ever had and I told him so. True to form he responded "you havent lived much have you?" It still brings tears to my eyes.
Shortly before "Johnny" left us, we had a long talk about heaven and he was imagining what it was going to be like to walk and talk and see and....DANCE. He had always dreamed of dancing. That night Johnny and I made a deal...he would save the first dance for me. I am gonna hold him to that one.