Full Circle

  1. Some patients will impact our careers in profound ways. Some will make a complete and closing circle in our careers, watching their struggle beginning to end. These patients shape us as providers.

    Full Circle

    You were one of my very first patient assignments I had fresh out of nursing school about two years ago. You taught me that behind the assignment was a person. With you I learned my first lessons in humility and compassion. As a stressed out new graduate on a postoperative unit it was hard at times to view patients beyond the assignment, beyond the task, beyond the pathology.


    You were a scared and anxious patient. At first I perceived it as stubborn and noncompliant with the medical treatment.
    I learned that listening closely, staying in the room even 30 seconds longer, and holding someone's hand can make all the difference.


    I remember how you insisted I give you a warning before flushing your PICC line because the taste of saline made you so nauseated! I remember how you used to eat a cherry sour with every flush. Drawing blood and flushing the line and giving you an IV push medication was always an ordeal. It annoyed me at the time but I began to realize that this wasn't about my feelings but about your comfort.


    Each time you came back to our unit you came back sicker and sicker. Your demands became less and less frequent ... and funny enough I missed your quirky demands that once used to annoy me.

    I knew these were signs you were getting sicker. Your hair began to thin, your generalized color was pale, your weight had dropped drastically. Your once loud and diva-like voice was lost in the midst of this illness.


    Months went by... I had not seen you anymore because I had moved on to the ICU.


    Until one day you became my patient again.


    The page came in from the executive nursing officer.


    "52 year old female respiratory distress history of PE to room 22" No name was provided so naturally I did not know this was you.


    And as we rolled you into the room and on to the ICU bed I recognized your face. Except this time it seemed so lifeless. So skeletal. Could this really be you?


    Then it happened, you began to code. You coded immediately after transferring you from bed to bed. I still remember the feeling of the compressions against your tiny frail body. You were but 5ft 2 inches in height. Frail and skeletal. No fat whatsoever on your body. No muscle either. Wasted away by disease. It felt grotesque, as any compressions usually do. I remember catching a glimpse of the people of whom I used to once work with outside the hall. My former coworkers, the floor nurses that brought you down to me.
    The look on their faces, as they witnessed the team of nurses and doctors try to revive you, I still recall. The nurse who brought you to me? She happens to be my best friend. She questions herself as to whether she could've done something to catch the impending doom. But we knew that death was coming.

    History of two pulmonary emboli. History of multiple DVT's. Hepatobiliary pathology. History of clotting disorders. Malignant cancer riddling your body.

    The doc finally called time of death. I was strangely relieved. Relieved that your suffering was over. Unfortunately your family did not know your exact desires regarding death and dying. They admitted this and preferred we do full interventions, "just in case". Which is an understandable and natural reaction from a psychological standpoint.


    That evening my friend called me. She kept wondering what she could have done. I assured her she did all she could. She called a rapid. She called the doctors. She made her voice heard. However most importantly she stayed by her side the entire time.
    Last edit by Joe V on Jun 16, '18
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  2. Visit CardiacDork profile page

    About CardiacDork, RN Pro

    MICU/CCU Ninja. Age 23 of the male variety.

    Joined: Dec '15; Posts: 587; Likes: 1,528

    Read My Articles

    13 Comments

  3. by   SnowShoeRN
    Many hugs to you CardiacDork. Ours is a truly humbling profession.
  4. by   compassionresearcher
    Cardiac Dork you have such great enthusiasm for the clinical side of things and sensitivity at the same time, a great combo! Your patients and co-workers must love you. Keep up the good work!
  5. by   CardiacDork
    Quote from compassionresearcher
    Cardiac Dork you have such great enthusiasm for the clinical side of things and sensitivity at the same time, a great combo! Your patients and co-workers must love you. Keep up the good work!

    Thank you for the compliments I do have a hunger for in depth geeky knowledge and I try my best to always keep the human side of nursing intact. I try my best It can be tough especially in the ICU.
  6. by   the4ofus
    I'm really offended that any one especially a nurse, and especially one of your obvious education would call yourself a dork. This is self deprecating and fosters the bad habits of bullying that are prevalent in nursing. What you do is worthwhile, you are worthwhile. Please ease up on yourself, so others can also ease up on you. Be a leader and an example of the fine nurse that I know you are.
  7. by   Cat365
    Quote from the4ofus
    I'm really offended that any one especially a nurse, and especially one of your obvious education would call yourself a dork. This is self deprecating and fosters the bad habits of bullying that are prevalent in nursing. What you do is worthwhile, you are worthwhile. Please ease up on yourself, so others can also ease up on you. Be a leader and an example of the fine nurse that I know you are.
    A bit tough, but I agree.
  8. by   CardiacDork
    Quote from the4ofus
    I'm really offended that any one especially a nurse, and especially one of your obvious education would call yourself a dork. This is self deprecating and fosters the bad habits of bullying that are prevalent in nursing. What you do is worthwhile, you are worthwhile. Please ease up on yourself, so others can also ease up on you. Be a leader and an example of the fine nurse that I know you are.

    Dork is not self depreciation. It's a figure of speech. When someone is a dork about something it means they find that certain something fascinating or have a strong affinity towards it. Ease up on myself? I'm not being hard on myself. What are you talking about?
    Last edit by CardiacDork on Sep 8, '16
  9. by   NurseCard
    Maybe Cardiac GEEK would be better? But I get the Cardiac "Dork" thing... I like your name.
  10. by   CardiacDork
    I find the focus on my username a bit unusual to be honest. Haha.
  11. by   ejnjj143
    This is probably an old thread that I came across. I've been in similar situations and have felt the same. I have felt relief for my patients that suffer from their comorbidities, who finally pass away. Sometimes it's in a code, and sometimes they're surrounded by family that loves them as we do comfort care or withdrawing care. Then sometimes no one is there but me and another nurse who cared for them sitting beside them, because no one should die alone. Thank you for you wonderful post
  12. by   Pca_85revived
    Thank you for posting this, I sometimes worry I got too jaded. Articles like yours that tug at my heartstrings prove differently
  13. by   3ringnursing
    That was … beautiful. And makes me think of my first full circle patient. Some people will stick with you always.
  14. by   nickster26
    Hey CardiacDork, You captured the parts of nursing that inspire me in such a beautiful way! I find it offensive that people would choose to focus on your username and be mean to you about it. Btw I think your name is very cool Keep on being a great nurse! I am a yound nurse too and I honestly wouldn't expect some older nurses to understand the reasoning behind your name choice... so don't take it personal lol.

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