When I was an On Call nurse for hospice, it was expected that when you heard the phone ring and got your assignment, you were to be on your way within 15 minutes. If it's 3am and you had been sleeping, that gives you almost no time to throw clothes on, deal with hair standing in all directions, jump into your shoes and fly out the door.
Our standard uniform was casual business with dress shirt with our agancy's logo on it. I always wore black dress pants and shiny black shoes.
The visit was a death/support visit at a facility. The death had been expected and the family seemed to be doing well: "grieving appropriately," as we call it. I have had a lot of experience providing emotional support to families at this time, and have learned that focussing on how the patient's comfort goals and persional wishes were acheived does give families a sense of comfort...usually.
This night, there was a large family in the room...standing room only for the hospice nurse. So I made my way to the patient, assessed vital signs, and recorded the time for the physician. I started talking to the family collectively and then individually, sometimes leaning forward to speak quietly and still be heard.
On occassion, family members would start smiling and turning their heads away. Then some were chuckling. I wasn't sure if they were upset, losing it, or if I had a booger in my nose or something. So, I did my best and circulated until I was sure everyone was okay.
When I left, I stopped in the men's room and caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror. That's when I noticed the large, orange smiley faces peeking out from behind my zipper! I died of embarassment, and thoughts about how I was trying to comfort and ease the tension in the room with my quiet, calm assurances came flooding in. I realized why they were chuckling and I stayed hidden in the bathroom until I was sure they left the building.
I guess it could have been worse...I think I still had a pair of Curious George boxers back then.
We had a patient transfer to my Hem/Onc floor who was dying of AML. His wife and children were in the room with him and he was basically on our ward for comfort care measures until he passed. I spent all day finding coworkers to titrate up the morphine PCA and try to make him as comfortable as possible.
Just as shift was ending, I headed in to say goodbye to the family and do one last check. His respers were up again, so I zipped down to the nurse's station to find one of my coworkers to change the PCA rate before the next shift got out of the chemo report. One of my coworkers had already changed from his uniform to his civilian clothes (let's call him John), but after I explained what I needed, John obligingly jumped up to help me change the PCA rate.
...until my corpsman said...
"Hey, sir, I don't think you want to go in there with that shirt on."
He had a point. On John's shirt was a cartoon of the Grim Reaper ironing flat an EKG strip on an ironing board.
Last edit by SoldierNurse22 on Feb 13, '13