I had a patient that was admitted to our floor on and off for for several years. I actually first encountered him when I was a student. He always said I was his favorite, bestest nurse, and whenever he came in, always requested me. He had a lung disease that was incurable. There was one stay that we all thought (pt included) that he was going to die. He called me into the room one night, and asked me to sit w/ him a while. I was busy at that time, med pass and new admit, but I sat there for over an hour while he held my hand and just lay there. Finally, he spoke and told me how much he appreciated me and thought of me like I was his daughter. He told me that he felt better about dying because of all the help that I had given him. Then he told me that he loved me, and it was a pleasure knowing me. He had me crying like a baby by that point. He gave me a big hug and a kiss on the cheek, and was telling me not to be upset. It was actually kind of funny, him dying and comforting me. We both wound up laughing over that. He didn't die that night. It actually wasn't until almost two months later. I wasn't there when it happened, and I'm grateful for that. I take great comfort in the fact that we said our good-byes earlier.
I had another pt that stayed w/ us for several months. For the life of me, I don't remember what was wrong w/ him. He and his family were always in great spirits, and he was never w/o someone staying w/ him. The family was wonderful, always attentive to him, never overbearing, and never w/o a kind word. It was common that if a staff member had gone missing, they were usually in this patients room talking w/ them. I was going on vacation for a few days, and w/ the end being near, I gave them my cell number and asked them to call me if anything happened (the one and only time I've ever done that). Three days later, I was woken up a little after five in the morning, and his wife told me that he had just passed. We talked and cried for a while (the phone got passed around and I got to talk to everyone). Then his wife asked when I was going to be coming back. She didn't want to have his funeral w/o me there. I told her a sooner date than I had planned on, I didn't want them waiting on me. At his wake, they gave me a lovely plaque w/ a message about nursing and said that it was a gift from the pt. I still keep in touch w/ the family.
I first encounted my next patient by taking care of her husband. I would dread having to take care of her husband, because she was always sooo hard to deal with. You know, nothing we ever did was good enough or fast enough for her liking. Then came the day that she was admitted into the hospital. She had a genetic disease that was getting worse, and we knew that it was getting close to her time. All of a sudden, this was no longer that overbearing wife that I knew, this was my patient who was dying and needed me. It became clear to me that maybe her overbearing attitude was her frustration at the situations. She loved to talk, and the stories she would tell were wonderful. One night, I was walking down the hall, and my co-worker poked her head out of the patients room (she was her nurse that night). She told me that the patient wasn't doing well, and didn't think she had much more time, did I want to say good-bye. The patient's husband was in a nursing home, and she was estranged from her family, so there was no one around. I walked to the bed, and she lay there, more peaceful than I had ever seen her. Her resp were averaging 3-4/min, was pretty non-responsive. We both sat on either side of the bed, each holding a hand, and just talked to her. Was maybe fifteen minutes that we were in there, then there was the slightest squeeze of my fingers and a sense of utter peacefulness, and I knew that she had just passed at that moment. I felt such an honor at being there at that time, and even better when I called the nursing home and was able to tell her husband that she was not alone (her greatest fear she had told me one time).