How Far Have I Really Come?

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    The first thought that comes to my mind is a quote from the bible, "When I was a child, I spoke like a child, thought like a child, and reasoned like a child. When I became an adult, I no longer used childish ways."1Corinthians 13:11
    I was just a child when I became an RN. Not yet 20 and in charge of a 42 pt unit at night. Many a night I held the hand of a dying person, cleaned the still warm body of a just passed pt, medicated and medicated the dying pt in pain. Often calling a physician ,waking him ,to plead for more meds for a pt in obvious discomfort. It always seemed so easy. It was my job,my vocation, and my livelyhood.

    One particular patient comes to mind. Admitted for anemia,she was soon diagnosed with a leaking AAA. She was on a regular med/surg floor due to stable status on admit. She was 70 and had a big family and had had a great life. She gently told her family,she did not want surgery. She knew she would die,and soon. She asked all to go home and remember her as they last saw her. Sitting up in bed,smiling ,telling each what they had meant to her. It was late by then. I was rounding and found her awake reading. She put her book down and said she would sleep now. Saying goodnight, after asking her if she needed me to do anything for her, I held her hand and squeezed lightly, then smiled and said goodnight, turning the light off. I knew I was the last face she would see, the last hand she would hold. I had did what she wanted. It was good.
    Many nurses and doc's were angry at her decision to die. Not I , I thought it was brave and courageous. She wished to leave as she came, peacefully and dreaming, as a child leaves the womb.

    When a family member of mine was ill, I had no problem stepping in and advocating for them. Making sure I used my "in" to get them the best of the best in my world of medicine. Always seeming so easy. Being caught up in the melodrama of someone in need.

    Many years later,my Mother, the very powerful, always in control Mother I had, became ill. To us it was sudden. But to her, she knew. All Summer long she suffered in silence, hiding OTC meds around to ease her access to pain relief. One day, in the right light, I saw jaundice, I knew then. Within in days she was hospitalized,and diagnosised . Taking her home, again, involved in the family drama, and need, I thought I could do this. I have done it hundreds of times before.

    Not less then a week later, I called the hospise nurse, asking who am I medicating here, me or her. That voice on the other end of the phone, gave me the strength to continue. Not as strong as I thought I was, I became uncertain in the last moments of her life. The last person to medicate her prior to her death,was me. I became a child again. That nurse so good in the acceptance of someone elses end of life, had become the child, anguished at being the medicator that facilitated pain control, but had also, possibly facilitated her own Mother's death.

    We become so bound in our professional ethics and beliefs overtime. Thinking that we can withstand the worst and recover from any shift. Yet when the moment hits home, we become, or I did, that child,uncertain and looking for a Nurse to ease my uncertainty.

    Last edit by cmo421 on Nov 15, '07
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    About cmo421

    Joined: Jul '07; Posts: 395; Likes: 293
    Specialty: Trauma ICU,ER,ACLS/BLS instructor

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  3. by   leslie :-D
    whatever the circumstances are, our child remains in us.
    it is when s/he needs to emerge, is when we/the child needs the most tlc.
    we are all vulnerable.
    the human response will embrace that.

  4. by   VivaLasViejas
    Beautiful and eloquent.........I'm fighting a lump in my throat as I type this.

    Thank you for sharing this.
  5. by   military girl
    Many times a patient may realize that we are the ones that need comforting. Hard to believe, but true.
    I had a patient about a month ago that had sustained fractures ribs due to a fall. He told us that he was going to die, but of course I told him not to say that. We had medicated him for pain, and later that day, he seemed to be getting better.
    Was off the next day, but came in to work to talk with some fellow co-workers. Found out that during the night he started going down hill, and he passed away that morning in the ICU. The family was there until the end.
    Nursing is a great profession. Making a difference in the life of a patient is a great feeling. Just remember, in taking care of your patients, take care of yourself. Love you no matter what.
  6. by   OregonGal
    Thank you for your post. Both of my parents are still living, currently in their 60's-70's. I often wonder what my role will be if/when they become ill and/or near death. I have one sister. I figure because I am a student nurse everyone will be looking at me to do the care. I don't mind, but wonder if I will be "task" oriented or a pile of goo that can't function--because it's my parent(s).

    I appreciate your insight to give me more 'thinking' on the subject.
  7. by   macspuds
    What a wonderful Nurse you have become.
    You have come a very long way and will still be traveling for the rest of your career.
    Someone has taught you well. Probably your heart.
    If I ever become ill and in need of a Nurse, I would hope that it would be you.