ICU nurses: 'It's OK to show your emotions'

  1. 7
    In the Intensive Care Unit at Rush Copley Medical Center in Aurora, scrubbed-up nurses float in and out of sterile rooms, machines beeping wildly in the background.

    On beds, patients lie, some unable to turn, to speak, to open their eyes.
    It is here where grieving families come here to wait, for recovery or for the often times inevitable.

    In the case of 25-year old Brandon Novak, the latter was the case.

    After spending a week in the ICU, a ventilator breathing air into his cancer-riddled lungs, Brandon lost his two-year battle. By his side was Janelle Megenhardt, nurse and mother of three who cared for the Oswego man in his final days.

    "Brandon's case really hit home to me," Megenhardt, who lost her mother to cancer, said just weeks after Brandon's passing. "I thought about him more than anyone else. It's always sad when people die, but it's not always a tragedy. It is a tragedy when someone dies at 25 years old."

    Although 90 percent of the patients' stories turn out well, it's the other 10 percent that weigh heavy on the hearts of their caretakers who must put their emotions aside.


    Full Story: http://www.suburbanchicagonews.com/b...ICU_S1.article
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  3. 7 Comments so far...

  4. 5
    Though having been out of nursing for 18 years, there are so many patients I still remember. I still hurt and get that choked up feeling in my throat, when I remember ones who I had to "pull the plug" on. It always amazed me how we never got together to talk about our feelings, and de-compress. And I could never talk about it with my family, because they did not want to hear about it, and I had to respect that. But I can't believe it was very healthy for me and wonder why we ICCU nurses always kept that stiff upper lip. I always gave my patients and their families 100% and when I shed a tear in their presence, with them, I felt it let them know that I did care about their loved one and the pain they were going through. Nursing is so much more than just a job. I don't need an article to give me permission to show my feelings, but it sure is nice to hear that it's OK and can actually help.
  5. 1
    I often thought about being an ICU nurse but found that I am that emotional I wouldn't be able to do it
    herring_RN likes this.
  6. 13
    I was glad to read this article, but not because of the need for nurses to have permission to show emotions. It was a good way for me to remember all the nurses who cared for my DH while he was sick, dying, and finally when the vent was removed.

    All the nurses were very competent, of course. All had good bedside manner, of course. Almost all saw DH as a very special person. The things I remember most are the hugs from the nurses and the tear-filled eyes they had as the news got worse and worse. Each gave their best and each new problem was explained to me and we worked together as a team for DH. When I had meltdowns, they closed the door and allowed me time to sob and hold DH. Each time there was something positive, they shared in the joy of it.

    It is common to hear that you are not to cry as a nurse. What a lot of crap. As a family member I wanted, no, NEEDED to see all their emotions. I could not trust my readings if all the unpopular ones were hidden. Why do we assume that crying is not to be shared? I am not talking about sobs by the nurses, they did not have the same relationship with Mike that I did. They did feel the sorrow and they were able to express it in very appropriate ways. I know my DH had a very hard course and I recall many of the details but what I remember most is the wonderful care that all of us in the family received by the nursing staff. This knowledge gives me comfort each time I think of Mike in that bed.

    I thank God that we had nurses who had the freedom with their emotions. It allowed me to be part of the team that cared for him, not just another helicopter family member in the way.

    Not every nurse wants or needs to be an ICU nurse, but all need to bring their humanity to work. Expressing emotions is part of that humanity.
    Bookworm14, flightnurse2b, leslie :-D, and 10 others like this.
  7. 4
    Quote from aknottedyarn
    I thank God that we had nurses who had the freedom with their emotions. It allowed me to be part of the team that cared for him, not just another helicopter family member in the way.

    Not every nurse wants or needs to be an ICU nurse, but all need to bring their humanity to work. Expressing emotions is part of that humanity.
    I agree.

    I've heard too many people say that crying makes you weak, or that crying in front of people makes you weak. I don't think that's the case at all. I think it takes a lot more balls to cry in front of a world that thinks you're weak, than to hold it all back.
  8. 1
    Heck, I cry all the time. I can usually wait until I get out of the room though. I couldn't hold it all in. Some of my coworkers give me grief over it but oh well. I'm also never so stressed that I am snippy or crude to pts either like some coworkers I've seen. Everyone just handles stressors differently.
    herring_RN likes this.
  9. 4
    i would rather provide care to my patient and support the family with tears streaming than leave my patient.

    i have cried too.
    no patient or family has complained.

    on my unit we often reminisce about previous patients.
    both people who recovered and those who died in our care.

    our rooms have many memories.
  10. 3
    There needs to be a safe place for nurses to release their emotions, as well as support available if the stresses of the job are beginning to lead to anxiety or depression. I don't remember the exact numbers, but the number of nurses on sick leave/disability due to stress and/or mental illness is troubling.

    Stuffed emotions can become a ticking time bomb; one last stressor and boom.


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