Every Nurse has that one patient they'll remember forever


  • Specializes in CCU, Geriatrics, Critical Care, Tele. Has 29 years experience.

Nurses, There are always a handful of people that stay with you like this! Let's hear your stories!


I'm sure there are hundreds of wonderful stories to share with each other!


554 Posts

Specializes in nurseline,med surg, PD. Has 50+ years experience.

There are lots of patients that I will remember forever. Some of them from the 70's. I generally remember patients that I cared for weeks or months.

Has 33 years experience.

I remember Al. He was the patient where I had to unzip the body bag when his autonomic nervous system kicked in and the bag started to move with his weak respiratory efforts. ..and code him again.

Sorry Al.

Try explaining THAT to the family!

Specializes in psychiatric. Has 4 years experience.

I have been a nurse for only a few years now but I will always remember the 12 year old girl that came to our juvenile inpatient acute psych unit. She was feral and tried to live in the walls of her house trying to avoid her father due to the many abuses he inflicted upon her since infancy. No kidding she would squeeze in between the walls and stay there. On the unit she would strip naked and attack you with all she could. I'll never forget her, she was violent, homicidal (constantly trying to take people out) and scared to death.......the look in her eyes was heartbreaking I don't know what they could have done for her, I left that job before she was discharged and I think about her quite often.

Specializes in Med nurse in med-surg., float, HH, and PDN. Has 43 years experience.

After 40+ years it isn't just one, I had a half dozen jump to mind when I read the title of this thread! One from my very first job in the spring of 1971, one from my Home Health years, and four others who were long-term Private Duty cases.

I could write a small book about each one of them. Truly.

I think what I will do is come back after I've thought about each one of them and see if I can sketch them in for you without going on and on and on.

I can't wait to read others' posts!

OrganizedChaos, LVN

1 Article; 6,883 Posts

Specializes in M/S, LTC, Corrections, PDN & drug rehab. Has 10 years experience.

Oh yeah!

The first death at my LTC job.

The old man who I would joke around with at another LTC job.

Then the kid who locked me out of his house & gave me a black eye at at the PDN job.


1 Article; 2,077 Posts

Specializes in Hospital medicine; NP precepting; staff education. Has 22 years experience.

My first addict.

My first HIV patient.

My first hospice death (I'll post hers in the ghost thread ;) )

Subsequent hospice patients.

My first stroke, witnessed onset, I think I've talked about them before. I'll never get to posting all of their stories.

So many.

One funny one.

In home health I had a gentleman who had diabetic peripheral neuropathy and had already lost a leg (BKA). I was dressing a the remaining foot stump twice a week with a wound vac. Even though I KNEW he couldn't feel it, he would always pull my leg (pun!) and act as if it was hurting him, making me jump each time. He eventually lost that leg too. But he had a great sense of humor. As a bilateral amputee, he thought it would be clever to dress up as Toulouse Lautrec for halloween. (context: TL was not an amputee, just very short).

TheCommuter, BSN, RN

226 Articles; 27,608 Posts

Specializes in Case mgmt., rehab, (CRRN), LTC & psych. Has 17 years experience.

During my first few months in nursing, one of my little old lady residents at the nursing home told me, "I love you for all that you do for me."

I usually do not become emotionally attached to patients, but I was particularly heartbroken when she died a year and a half later.


102 Posts

First pt with heart issues because my grandpa passed from an MI, it just stuck with me

Cricket183, BSN, RN

1 Article; 237 Posts

Specializes in Oncology (OCN). Has 20 years experience.

There are many. I worked inpatient oncology.

Mr. B. He had prostate cancer and one of the many complications he had was severe lymphadema to his scrotum and legs. It hurt to look at him. He was so incredibly swollen that his skin would often split. We had to keep his scrotum propped up on a towel to keep blood flow. He also had bone mets to his pelvis and spine. That however is not what I remember most about him. I remember his smile and his sweet, sweet disposition. He was always smiling! He was the most precious person I have ever met. He never once complained. He would occasionally grimace when we repositioned him or did wound care and we would apologize for causing him pain and he would always say, "That's okay honey. You're just doing your job and I know you're doing it to make me better."

His wife was just as precious and sweet as he was. On the occasions when she did go home to "rest", she always returned with some sort of baked goods for the staff--cookies, cake, sweet rolls, banana bread. We told her she needed to rest but she insisted that baking helped her relax and it relieved stress for her. He was with us frequently. When the time came, he didn't want to go to Hospice he wanted to pass in the hospital on our floor with all of us who had taken care of him off and on for close to a year. I was there when he passed. He was one of the first patients I pronounced. It is one of the few times I cried in front of a patient's family.

He gave many of us these beautiful beaded & magnetic (hematite) necklaces. I still have mine in my jewelry box. Everytime I see it I think of him and smile.

Then there was J. She was close to my age at the time, late 30's. She had AML. I was on duty when she was admitted and assisted the oncologist with her bone marrow biopsy. A few months prior I myself had had to have a bone marrow biopsy due to a consistently elevated lymphocyte count, low neutrophil count, and low hgb. (Luckily mine was negative.) J. was terrified and I could relate. I held her hand and talked her through it. There are just some patients you hit it off right away and it was that way with J. She was a character--spunky, spoke her mind, a little bit of a rebel, and had a contagious laugh.

I've mentioned before that leukemia patients are some of my favorite patients to work with. When they come in for chemo--especially induction--they are with us for an extended period of time, often 6-8 weeks. We spend a lot of time with them because of the chemo and the tremendous amount of blood products they receive. J. responded well to chemo. She came in for a regular round of chemo. Did well. Hit nadir. Her counts were low. She had been there before and recovered well. No reason to think this time would be any different. She was on neutropenic precautions, receiving regular transfusions of rbcs & platelets.

She was another one who rarely complained. I was working as charge late one Saturday afternoon when her primary nurse approached me saying J. was complaining of a HA. She had given her prn Lortab but J's pain was getting worse. Wanted to know if she should call the doc on call for something stronger. I went in to assess J. and I instantly knew it was bad. Long story short she developed a spontaneous brain bleed and in less than 24 hours later she was gone. I still remember her mom coming down from ICU to get the rest of J's stuff from her room that evening before J. passed and just the utter look of disbelief on her face. She just kept saying, "She was doing so good." I'm in no way comparing what I felt to what her mom was experiencing but all I could think was, "I know. She WAS doing good." (Of course I didn't say that.) I was in such shock, it took me awhile to process what happened. When I finally got out to my car that night--way after my shift was over--I just sat there dazed for what seemed like forever.

I learned the following day that J. had passed. Her funeral is the only patient funeral I have ever attended.


20 Posts

I'm not a nurse(EMT applying to nursing school), but I have volunteered for a rape crisis center for a long time now and I will always remember my first survivor.

It was 3 in the morning and I was waiting with her in the ED for her discharge stuff when she mentioned that my eyes were a bit red from sleepiness. I mentioned that when county crisis called me to the ER, I had just gotten home from taking my then boyfriend, now husband, to the airport after being up at 5 am to go to work that day. It turned out she had actually been at the same airport at the same time I was in the same terminal dropping someone off at the airline next to my husband's when she went home with the man who sexually assaulted her later that night. It was eerie.


28 Posts

I'm not a nurse yet, just a volunteer, but I have a few people who really stick out in my mind...

There was this one man who seemed pretty quiet. One day though, I saw him in the hallway, and I asked him if he was going home now. He was like "Hell yeah I'm going home!" He was SO happy and smiling nonstop, and I felt excited for him. I said something along the lines of "Yes!!" and we high-fived, and then I helped him into the wheelchair and discharged him. It was such a cute moment and he thanked me for all my help the past few days, and I remember feeling great after that.

There was a lady who I really got along with. She had a great sense of humor and was super sweet. There was a bit of a communication barrier between us, but we made it work by finding alternate ways to communicate--we didn't need words and language to connect. She was set to be discharged right after my shift ended, and without a thought, I stuck around after my shift was supposed to end so I could discharge her and say goodbye. Outside the hospital, she hugged me. I wasn't expecting her to do that...it was such a sweet moment and I don't think I'll ever forget her.