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Com'on, you got one...What is your heart wrenching moment?

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by CrunchBerries CrunchBerries (Member)

Has 31 years experience.

Mine was....

I was a very young, too young DON at a care home. I was working late one night doing paperwork. I heard odd noises coming from outside my office. I went out to investigate and I saw Marjean, one of my fav's sitting under a tree rocking back and forth.

I asked what was wrong, she kept rocking telling me she was just gang raped on the pool table of the game room.

Marjean was a hard core, paranoid schizophrenic. It never happened, while we had a game room we had no pool table and, we had cameras in that room. Naw, it didn't happen but SHE totally believed it did, it was one of her hallucinations.

While it did not *really* happen, it did happen in her reality and she was going through the same emotions as a true rape victim would experience.

I finally got it, I finally understood. Hallucination or not, it was still real for her. I just sat with her under the tree rocking back and forth.

We ALL have one or more of those moments, what is yours?

~PedsRN~, BSN, RN

Specializes in Acute Care Pediatrics. Has 4 years experience.

A chronic patient who I had a very special bond with came in extremely sick.... admitted straight to the ICU. I would go down and chat with him when I could on my breaks. As the days went on, he began to deteriorate. He was an older teenager, and I believe he had come to grips with his death long before any of us. One night I went down to visit with him, and I took one look at him and I just knew. His mother was still upbeat, in denial somewhat, but I knew. And he knew. And as she chattered on about this and that and what he was going to do for the rest of the summer, etc.... I kept my eyes locked on his. He motioned for me to come closer to him (he was unable to really vocalize at this point), so of course I did. He reached out with one arm, and grabbed me around the neck and pulled me close. He put his forehead on mine. He squeezed. Then he let go.

I cried all the way back to my floor, and all the way home the next morning.

I knew he had said goodbye to me.

He died later that day.

I will never ever forget just looking at him in the eyes, and having that unspoken conversation.

Miss that kid. He was awesome.

ScrappytheCoco

Specializes in Emergency/Trauma/LDRP/Ortho ASC. Has 3 years experience.

I was only about 3 days into my first job as a new grad when we got an older peds trauma pt. Jane Doe, I picked her cut up tshirt off the floor and pieced it together for the cops to take pictures. When her parents came in to the trauma bay one of them passed out cold on the floor. She died a few days later...I cried for days. I still think about it from time to time...I'll never forget her name.

CrunchBerries

Has 31 years experience.

~PedsRN~ said:
A chronic patient who I had a very special bond with came in extremely sick.... admitted straight to the ICU. I would go down and chat with him when I could on my breaks. As the days went on, he began to deteriorate. He was an older teenager, and I believe he had come to grips with his death long before any of us. One night I went down to visit with him, and I took one look at him and I just knew. His mother was still upbeat, in denial somewhat, but I knew. And he knew. And as she chattered on about this and that and what he was going to do for the rest of the summer, etc.... I kept my eyes locked on his. He motioned for me to come closer to him (he was unable to really vocalize at this point), so of course I did. He reached out with one arm, and grabbed me around the neck and pulled me close. He put his forehead on mine. He squeezed. Then he let go.

I cried all the way back to my floor, and all the way home the next morning.

I knew he had said goodbye to me.

He died later that day.

I will never ever forget just looking at him in the eyes, and having that unspoken conversation.

Miss that kid. He was awesome.

OMG, I wish I could like this over and over again!

CrunchBerries

Has 31 years experience.

ScrappytheCoco said:
I was only about 3 days into my first job as a new grad when we got an older peds trauma pt. Jane Doe, I picked her cut up tshirt off the floor and pieced it together for the cops to take pictures. When her parents came in to the trauma bay one of them passed out cold on the floor. She died a few days later...I cried for days. I still think about it from time to time...I'll never forget her name.

((((HUGS))))

odaat

Specializes in ER, Med/Surg, Telemetry, Dialysis. Has 4 years experience.

My first pediatric code...dad had been sleeping with the baby on the couch and must've rolled on her, she was DOA but being a baby we did a full on everything we can code with mom watching the whole thing. I'll never forget that. I've had more after that didn't do that to me but that first one, still rips my heart out.

HouTx, BSN, MSN, EdD

Specializes in Critical Care, Education. Has 35 years experience.

60-Bed multi-specialty adult Critical Care Unit. Elderly CHF patient admitted early on nights turned out to be the mother of a well-regarded, but not very empathetic House Sup.... you know the type, one of those starchy 'suck it up and get it done' types. Despite all the bells and whistles available (including bi-vad & heroic efforts to maintain hemodynamics) as the day progressed it became apparent that her mom was not going to last much longer. We all watched House Sup's attempt to keep it all together and maintain her famous rigid control.

As the night shift came on, a small bouquet of flowers appeared in the room along with a card addressed to the Sup. Then another one appeared - probably purchased at the gift shop vending machine; it was followed by several others placed around the room. None of them had any indication of who had left them. Around midnight, a 'poster' appeared taped to the wall outside the patient's room.... handwritten with expressions of support for the Sup. Throughout the night, staff added their own notes of sympathy and support. In the wee hours of the morning, as Sup made the decision to cease heroic measures, she was quietly surrounded by colleagues and the chaplain. Our unit secretary began to sing Amazing Grace - and was joined by others (with less than her amazing vocal abilities). The chaplain led everyone in a quiet prayer. We noticed that Sup had lost her composure completely.. so we filed out and left her in the room with the chaplain. At some point, her mom died & by the time the day shift arrived, the room was empty and ready to be cleaned. Shift report was very subdued.

The following week, when I saw the House Sup - she was perfectly 'normal' again and I never recall any acknowledgement or conversations with co-workers about what had happened that night. But I wonder if they still remember it as clearly as I do.

CrunchBerries

Has 31 years experience.

HouTx said:
60-Bed multi-specialty adult Critical Care Unit. Elderly CHF patient admitted early on nights turned out to be the mother of a well-regarded, but not very empathetic House Sup.... you know the type, one of those starchy 'suck it up and get it done' types. Despite all the bells and whistles available (including bi-vad & heroic efforts to maintain hemodynamics) as the day progressed it became apparent that her mom was not going to last much longer. We all watched House Sup's attempt to keep it all together and maintain her famous rigid control.

As the night shift came on, a small bouquet of flowers appeared in the room along with a card addressed to the Sup. Then another one appeared - probably purchased at the gift shop vending machine; it was followed by several others placed around the room. None of them had any indication of who had left them. Around midnight, a 'poster' appeared taped to the wall outside the patient's room.... handwritten with expressions of support for the Sup. Throughout the night, staff added their own notes of sympathy and support. In the wee hours of the morning, as Sup made the decision to cease heroic measures, she was quietly surrounded by colleagues and the chaplain. Our unit secretary began to sing Amazing Grace - and was joined by others (with less than her amazing vocal abilities). The chaplain led everyone in a quiet prayer. We noticed that Sup had lost her composure completely.. so we filed out and left her in the room with the chaplain. At some point, her mom died & by the time the day shift arrived, the room was empty and ready to be cleaned. Shift report was very subdued.

The following week, when I saw the House Sup - she was perfectly 'normal' again and I never recall any acknowledgement or conversations with co-workers about what had happened that night. But I wonder if they still remember it as clearly as I do.

Wow...

heron, ASN, RN

Specializes in Hospice. Has 40 years experience.

A 26 year old man with end stage AIDS whose dementia had progressed to the point of requiring a posey vest. One night on a routine safety check, I found him tangled in the vest. While I untangling him, he grabbed my hand and climbed hand over hand up my arm, then his head wobbled back and he looked me in the eye and said, "I want my life back." All I could do was to look back, say "I'm so sorry" and hold him until his mind wandered off again.

Luckyyou, BSN, RN

Specializes in ICU. Has 10 years experience.

The dad of one of my long-term patients screaming at me during one of multiple codes the night he died, "Why won't you save my baby?!"

FlyingScot, RN

Specializes in Peds/Neo CCT,Flight, ER, Hem/Onc. Has 28 years experience.

You don't want to hear mine. You really don't. Says the ex-pediatric flight nurse.

Okami_CCRN, ADN, RN

Specializes in Critical Care. Has 4 years experience.

I was working in the ICU one night and was doing my round of temperature checks when this elderly female patient who was receiving blood grabs my hand, looks me dead in the eye and asks "how much longer 'till it's done?" I look at the blood hanging and I tell her it'll be about two hours.

She looks at me again, still holding my hand and replies "I wish I had longer, I'd like my husband to be here" I'm still confused at this point and ask her why she wants her husband to be present when the blood transfusion is finished and she replied "Oh honey, I meant how much time do I have until I die."

At that moment, I just started crying (full blown snot running down crying), couldn't talk or anything. At that point the primary nurse walks in and tells her that everything is going fine, no need to worry. The patient coded and died at 0730. I still think about her to this day even though it's been many years.

RookieRoo

Specializes in Critical care.

My first code. I was a student. And it was a nine month old twin baby, with his mom screaming and trying to throw herself on him, his dad holding his mom back, and his uncle holding his dad... while everyone worked around him on his teeny tiny body. 45 minutes, silence except the machines, the meds called out, and the mom. screaming.

He didn't make it. Turns out, he had respiratory failure. Turns out, his parents had been fighting for months to get him seen at the children's hospital by a peds pulmonologist. He died on a Sunday, and his appointment with the pulmonologist was the next day on a Monday. Instead, I, as a student, tied his toe tag on and brought him to the morgue.

Sucked then, sucks now, won't ever forget it.

ixchel

Specializes in critical care.

Several months ago, I had this patient... In report, I was told he'd just gotten there, he'd been laying on a couch for 6-12 months, and only got up to urinate and defecate in a trash can placed by the couch. He was being "cared" for by his wife, who usually only gave him beer. His neck, legs and arms were contracted into the position he was laying on the couch. He was a&o in all ways possible. A smart guy, at that. He'd had a full and exciting life.

The extent of this man's deconditioning was horrifying to witness. He was unkempt, with long, scruffy hair, 12 months of nail and facial hair growth, and generally filthy. He looked like he had been picked up from under a bridge somewhere. His CC was new-onset hallucinations. So while he was essentially stable, he was a mess.

His disfigurement made an impact on me, but honestly, using my nurse brain, it wasn't earth shattering in any way. It was just alarming. It was like something you'd see on some reality show, but that was the extent of it.

On my third day with him, shortly before the end of my shift, I saw a group of people outside his room. Normal people, clean cut, well dressed. I approached them to ask if they needed help finding someone, but as I reached the door, I peeked in and saw a small, elderly woman who was the spitting image of him. She was obviously his mother, and she was just sobbing. She said to me, "what happened to my beautiful boy? Why does he look like this?!"

I hugged her, mom to mom. And suddenly I wasn't a nurse anymore. I was a mom of a beautiful boy, too, and I felt the horror of that moment. Turns out the last time she'd seen him was a few years ago, before any of his deconditioning began. He was clean cut, normal, his mama's boy. I couldn't shake off the terrible pit in my stomach that was making me consider how I'd feel if that were my boy in that bed.

It had been a long, emotional week already. Very heavy patients with very sad stories. But that moment.... That one made me so thankful I was about to be off for a few days. I told my charge nurse I needed a few minutes to collect myself. I couldn't hold the tears back. Even as I'm typing this, I'm feeling them come back. I recognize my boundaries were gone with this patient, especially at that moment.

The good news is this is the first time I've thought about him in a good long time. I seem to not get as emotional about the deaths I've experienced. It's the stuff people live with that seeps into my heart.

CrunchBerries

Has 31 years experience.

FlyingScot said:
You don't want to hear mine. You really don't. Says the ex-pediatric flight nurse.

Actually, I do.

CrunchBerries

Has 31 years experience.

ixchel said:
Several months ago, I had this patient... In report, I was told he'd just gotten there, he'd been laying on a couch for 6-12 months, and only got up to urinate and defecate in a trash can placed by the couch. He was being "cared" for by his wife, who usually only gave him beer. His neck, legs and arms were contracted into the position he was laying on the couch. He was a&o in all ways possible. A smart guy, at that. He'd had a full and exciting life.

The extent of this man's deconditioning was horrifying to witness. He was unkempt, with long, scruffy hair, 12 months of nail and facial hair growth, and generally filthy. He looked like he had been picked up from under a bridge somewhere. His CC was new-onset hallucinations. So while he was essentially stable, he was a mess.

His disfigurement made an impact on me, but honestly, using my nurse brain, it wasn't earth shattering in any way. It was just alarming. It was like something you'd see on some reality show, but that was the extent of it.

On my third day with him, shortly before the end of my shift, I saw a group of people outside his room. Normal people, clean cut, well dressed. I approached them to ask if they needed help finding someone, but as I reached the door, I peeked in and saw a small, elderly woman who was the spitting image of him. She was obviously his mother, and she was just sobbing. She said to me, "what happened to my beautiful boy? Why does he look like this?!"

I hugged her, mom to mom. And suddenly I wasn't a nurse anymore. I was a mom of a beautiful boy, too, and I felt the horror of that moment. Turns out the last time she'd seen him was a few years ago, before any of his deconditioning began. He was clean cut, normal, his mama's boy. I couldn't shake off the terrible pit in my stomach that was making me consider how I'd feel if that were my boy in that bed.

It had been a long, emotional week already. Very heavy patients with very sad stories. But that moment.... That one made me so thankful I was about to be off for a few days. I told my charge nurse I needed a few minutes to collect myself. I couldn't hold the tears back. Even as I'm typing this, I'm feeling them come back. I recognize my boundaries were gone with this patient, especially at that moment.

The good news is this is the first time I've thought about him in a good long time. I seem to not get as emotional about the deaths I've experienced. It's the stuff people live with that seeps into my heart.

Some people believe in reincarnation, others do not. Me? I don't much care either way. What I *do* know is that as nurses we live 1000 lives just in one. We seem to live vicariously through those of others. I don't feel reincarnation is necessary for us. It is something we already live.

~PedsRN~, BSN, RN

Specializes in Acute Care Pediatrics. Has 4 years experience.

Luckyyou said:
The dad of one of my long-term patients screaming at me during one of multiple codes the night he died, "Why won't you save my baby?!"

:( 😞 I have been there with that dad. It's a horrible feeling isn't it. ((HUGS))

rnsrgr8t

Specializes in Peds Urology,primary care, hem/onc.

I was working nights on my summer break during nursing school on the peds floor at the local hospital. I was all of 19 and an eager nurse extern. I worked with some amazing nurses who really mentored me. We had a little girl with end stage cancer. She was comfort measures only, on a cooling blanket and on lots of IV pain meds. That night, her nurse (I still remember her face/name) pulled me aside and told me this sweet little girl was probably not going to make it through the night. I told her I still wanted to do my care, take her vitals etc. we all loved this little girl and her mother and I had helped with her a lot that summer. I walked in the room at 2 am with my little penlight in my hand. The room was dark and mom was asleep on a cot next to the hospital bed. I put my stethoscope to her chest and heard......nothing. My heart started pounding so loud I could hear it in my ears. I tried to feel for a radial pulse and felt....nothing. I realized she had left us peacefully in the last hour from when I had last been in the room. I quietly went out of the room and got her nurse. We both went back in quietly and she listened to her for a second and then nodded at me. She whispered at me that we had to wake Mom up and tell her and did I want to do it. I nodded my head and walked over, knelt in front of Mom in the dark and gently woke her up. When she sat up, I gave her a second to wake up and put my arm around her and said, "she's gone to heaven Momma". She nodded and hugged me and got in bed and held her daughter. The nurse I was working with went out and called Dad. Later when we were preparing her for the funeral home to come get her, her Mom and I and the nurse I worked with all kept commenting how beautiful she looked. She truly did. She was finally at peace and not suffering and she looked like an angel, even her Mom said so.

That was my first patient death. Looking back 20 years later, I realized it is what solidified my desire to do peds. I have for my whole career. I look back now and cannot believe that nurse let a 19 year old nurse extern have such a role in her care but I am glad she did. I am amazed she trusted me that much. I learned a lot that night. I have always been grateful my first death was a peaceful one. I do not remember that child's name but I can still see her face very clearly. Her mother hugged me so tight that night and I only hope I helped ease her pain a little (as much as my greenness would allow).