A New Nursing Grad Witnesses a Death - page 3

by Andrea K. Penney 8,442 Views | 30 Comments

Many times during my career, Id have a flashback while I went about my daily routines. I would be right back in the classroom, hearing all over again what an instructor had to say "Always talk to your patients... Read More


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    Quote from AJPV
    What a powerful example of the kind of nurse I want to be. I was recently really bothered by a very different example of nursing I witnessed in an ICU. The patient was a woman who spoke no english. There was no way to communicate with her verbally in any detail without using the translation phone. But it really bothered me that the nurse I observed didn't say a single word to her. The nurse simply walked in and started "doing" things to her without even a smile, a kind word, or an empathetic touch (even though she might not have understood it). The nurse was not exactly gentle either. Many hours passed during the shift with no attempt to communicate with the patient through ANY means - verbal or nonverbal. It strikes me as odd that people regularly "talk" to their dogs and cats and we all know that these animals pick up emotional meaning from this even though they don't understand the words and yet we don't think that our unconscious patients or those who speak another language need to hear our voices. Not coincidentally, this nurse later told me that the nurse's goal was to complete 2 years in the ICU to be eligible for CRNA school. That was the end-goal for this nurse, not CARING for patients.

    So sorry you had this experience. Starting in 1979, I worked 12 years full time in ICU--in charge for 6 years. Some nurses were what I called technical nurses who got more involved using the new toys which ICU had than for delivering personal, touching care. Some had a high opinion of themselves because they were ICU nurses, and a few were less than cordial to other nurses. That exists in every profession.

    I always talked to patients--especially when they coded. The team loved to tease me about this but I never stopped. In my book, I detail an event where one patient unexpectedly straightlined, He was a gruff man, not a believer in any faith. He reported "I was in this dark tunnel. Something holy was calling me but I did not want to go yet--so I kept walking in the direction of your voice. Then I found myself here back in my bed." He lived another 15 years. No one poked fun at me after that.

    So KEEP ON TALKING!! The patients hear you! I have the impression you will be a wonderful nurse.
    AJPV and liebling5 like this.
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    I understood what you meant. No offense taken on how you worded your remarks.
    We each have our own beliefs. Mine are unshakable. I respect every person I was priveledged to be with at the end of their life. I prayed silently for each one--but I never ever pushed my personal beliefs on them nor their families. I can not recall, in fact, that I ever prayed aloud again with a dying patient
    I did my best to support their faith --or lack of--despite my personal urges to share my thoughts. My personal observation is that those with no faith tend to be the ones who fear death the most.
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    Quote from applewhitern
    There is no question in my mind that there is an afterlife, either. My son died on the operating table twice. He was bleeding out. The surgeon turned grey when he was told, by my son, of the events that he experienced. My son described to him, in great detail, everything he saw and witnessed regarding the surgery, even though he was completely under. The surgeon had stopped the surgery, and closed, because my son was at "the point of no return." So he believed what my son told us, as he knew he had lost him twice.
    My mother in law shared a similar experience to your son's. She was having her kidney removed--about 1947--and could clearly hear the conversation in the O.R. She thought this was strange--then she realized she was breathing funny. She said to me 'But then I was looking down on myself to see I was not breathing but what I heard was the doctor trying to get a BP on me" Then she related that she thought about wanting to raise her 3 so she made herself get back into her body.

    She had 3 other near death experiences--a few years apart much later in her life when she coded for different reasons. Her lifelong faith was very stong but she did not report seeing anything holy or un natural in any of her events. She did describe a feeling incredible peace during one event.

    She lived until 1985 and died at age 73.
    Puddin2day likes this.
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    Quote from ruthalittle
    It really is very sad how few people do this. Sadder still, I think, were the number of nurses & CNA's who mocked me when I did it. Several made statements in the room, with the patient, such as "Why do you always tell him what you're going to do? He can't hear you." Some laughed in front of the patient. Although it's been many years since I've experienced this, it still makes me sad to think of it.
    Do not let anyone stop you from talking! Absolutely people hear you! Patients are in such a fog--they need to know what you are doing before you touch them.

    My first ICU lesson was sitting in the classroom with the lights out, and the instructor tape recorded all the sounds going in in the ICU. I will never forget the voices, remarks, laughter and off things I heard. Another lesson I never forgot.

    My dad was injured and comatose with a high fever in WW2. Penicillin was brand new and in very limited supply. He heard the MD telling the nurse he was unsure if he should waste the medication on him. The nurse told the mD that she saw a ltter dad had on him from my mom telling him she delivered their first child--a son. My dad said he was thinking : "You *&!*#@!, you better give me that stuff". The MD finally said--"OK one shot--if he does not respond, then let nature take it's couse"

    Were it not for that nurse, I and another brother would not be here! GO NURSES!!!!
    Puddin2day and CompleteUnknown like this.
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    Quote from CompleteUnknown
    I was taught that sitting with a patient who is dying is part of my job, and I was also taught to talk to unconscious patients and tell them what I am about to do. I think most of us were weren't we?

    Very very sad indeed if there are some who feel it's unnecessary, I consider it an honour to be present and sitting beside the bed, holding a hand or stroking an arm, or talking softly to a patient, or just being there, when they die.
    Thank you for your remarks. I think every nurse and MD needs to have the experience of being a really sick patient to realize how important a gentle word, explaination, and the human touch is.
    CompleteUnknown likes this.
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    Thank you Leslie for you remarks and advice. I do not remember Mildred's diagnosis but per my memory, there were no indications thatthat she had pain. But I could be totally incorrect.

    In the 1990's, when I worked for the VNA, I fought for appropriate patients to have ample morphine available. One MD said "I do not want her to get addicted!" I responded (I knew him well from ICU days)--she is near death--that is not the issue here. Even in her sleep her face is wincing and she is moaning in pain. When awake, she tells me 'so much pain--help me'. Perhaps her body requires a higher dosage than you prefer to give but it is WRONG to have her die like this. I got the order. She lived abut another week--without pain.
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    Quote from Andrea K. Penney
    Do not let anyone stop you from talking! Absolutely people hear you! Patients are in such a fog--they need to know what you are doing before you touch them.

    My first ICU lesson was sitting in the classroom with the lights out, and the instructor tape recorded all the sounds going in in the ICU. I will never forget the voices, remarks, laughter and off things I heard. Another lesson I never forgot.

    Great idea! I imagine that would be a very powerful lesson for many of us.
    Andrea K. Penney likes this.
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    God bless you for that!! This is exactly how i want to be as a nurse and how others should be. God is so good and thanks so much for sharing!!

    Sharde'
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    Beautifully put! I have only been a nurse for almost 2 years and I work in long term care. I always tell family that their loved one CAN hear them. I have a hard time when a resident of mine passes. I can't count on my hands anymore how many people I have watched take their last breath, and I am honored to say that I was there holding their hands when they took their last breath.

    I have residents who tell me that they physically feel better when I am there. I feel that even if I can make them smile once while I am there, that I have made a difference in their life, I have made them feel that someone cares. And I do care.

    Yes, others laugh at me too for taking the time, just like you did, but I feel that's what make me a exceptional nurse. Others laugh when I cry over someone passing, but it does break my heart.

    Thank you for writing what you did because it makes me feel great about what WE do!
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    I know maybe this sounds strange but thank you for doing that for her


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