The Patient you will NEVER forget...

  1. Okay, this is my very first thread, so... be gentle :blushkiss

    I'm sure everyone has run into a "Buster" in at some point in bedside (or otherwise) care.
    "Buster" was a 23 year old male. I can't remember what happened to him but he was in the Neuro ICU on a PhenoBarb drip for an induced coma. He had a constant fever and we kept him naked except for cooling blanket and a cloth to cover his "privates".

    Well... "Buster" could not have a washcloth to cover him, he required, and I do emphasize REQUIRED, a TOWEL to cover him up... down there. I think at some point every nurse (female, well, and some male ) came to see this patient that required a TOWEL to cover him up. I had never, and still have not seen any male that well... er, my life!!! He required a suprapubic cath because the Foley was not long enough. :imbar

    Interestingly, as bad off as "Buster" was medically, he survived and I saw him about 6 months later (yes, I remembered his face). I was moving out of an apartment and he was on the elevator. He had some apparent neuro deficits in his gait and speech, but he was ambulating with a cane independently.
  2. Visit LasVegasRN profile page

    About LasVegasRN

    Joined: Apr '02; Posts: 4,948; Likes: 27
    RN Case Manager


  3. by   thisnurse
    oh dont even get me

    my most memorable patient, dead now, i met in nursing school. he had cancer with mets to the bones. a huge tumor grew larger every day on his spine.
    it was my first encounter with DNR. wife refused to sign. it didnt take a genius to see what was in store for this man.
    despite his illness he was always cheerful. he was my buddy.
    i can remember him asking if his dog could come visit him. the hospital allowed it because he was terminal.
    i think that was one of the happiest days of this guys life.

    this was, unfortunately, my first encounter with less than reputable surgeons.
    they dangled the carrot of hope in front of this hopeless patient and he grabbed it.
    they operated on the inoperable tumor and left him paraplegic and still terminal.
    he went home from the hospital and was back in a day or two. this was now his life. i watched him deteriorate daily. he could no longer walk or sit up. his kidneys began to fail. i remember having to cath him. i tried to keep upbeat but i had to excuse myself from the room sometimes.
    the last time i spoke to him i asked him how he was doing and he said....
    what a stupid question...look at me how do you think im doing. and he stared out the window.
    i got all choked up and sorry.
    i left the room and never went back.
  4. by   Sleepyeyes
    Oh WAHHH.....(((thisnurse)))
    Please write a book! please!!
  5. by   dazedandconfused
    I have to agree with sleepyeyes.... write the book.
  6. by   mattsmom81
    Some people just grab ahold of your heart, don't they?

    I have lots...a recent one that comes to mind is a 30's something engineer who had a chole backfire..ended up with necrotizing pancreatitis that became chronic...multiple hospitalizations with a 'zipper' finally placed...he always ended up with complications, ARDS, pleural effusions, septic shock, ended up on the vent for extended periods of time, confused, agitated (he was a big guy about 6ft 5 and 300 #...quite a handful for all of us. We'd hear he was back in the ER again and we'd all groan...had to rotate care because he was such a handful, but I was one of his primaries...

    His wife was very sweet. We got very close and she went through hell. She watched him reduced to a childlike state, wondered if he would ever get back his function..... Everytime he came into the hospital we (and she) wondered if he'd make it out alive, he seemed to develop every complication and got weaker and weaker. He had 2 young preteen boys who missed hunting and fishing with Dad but were scared to come see him in the hospital. I felt so good when their Mom finally talked them into coming to see their Daddy because I was there and I would help them understand, they didn't have to be scared... He didn't know them (delirium) but they saw he was alive and felt better...

    This big sick guy eventually recovered 100% and even went back to his engineering job...made us all feel soooo good and his wife still writes me from time to time!

    I like happy endings don't ya'll?!
  7. by   NurseDennie
    The lady who had spinal surgery at another hospital, fell on her front steps and became a quad. She was in hospital at the same time (across the hall from) a 20-something guy who was also a quad. He'd gotten all liquored up and had a smashup. He hurt himself and some others as well.

    The lady was the most wonderful person. When she first came in, the most movement she could get in the UE's was to smack herself in the face with her left hand. The man across the hall could feed himself with a spoon we strapped to his hand. But he needed to be reponsitioned about every 2 minutes and it took FOREVER. He was just so demanding and self-pitying.

    She had every complication that was possible to have, and some that I would have sworn were impossible. We almost lost her several times. When she was finally D/C'd to SNF, we had a little parade for her. My friend and I made a hat for her out of a specipan with things hanging from it, a ribbon and big bow, made from gauze and colorful medical supplies hanging from the brim (did you know you could use a hole punch to make holes in those speci-pans. I pulled some flowers out of an artificial arrangement our NM had given us for winning some award or other and arranged them on the hat and as a little bouquet for her. I can't remember what-all. People had given her a lot of stuff during the time she was in hospital, and there wasn't room for most of it in the ambulance that transported her. But she wore our hat and carried our bouquet!!! We stood in the hall and we all hugged her as she went down the hall. The triumphal procession. I don't remember when or how the guy was D/C'd

    The lady who was with us AGAINST her living will.

    The man who broke his back leaning over a Xerox machine and became a paraplegic. He went home and died less than year later of a massive MI.

    The 500# man who was totally flaccid and whose family was never at BS that I ever saw. But they didn't want him in ANY SNF except the one that wouldn't take him (no insurance)

    The lady who came to me from another hospitals' ICU who told me she hadn't been bathed in several days. She was at the top of the hill, looking at the long slide down from cancer in her brain. I took my lunch with her and was SOOOO grateful to the charge nurse who took my other patients another hour so I could spend 2 hours with her, bathing her and talking.

    I guess I remember a large proportion of them. I've had to go back and remove some of my examples. Too many.

    This is interesting thing to me, because I don't have the greatest memory in the world.


  8. by   live4today
    The couple who had only gotten married two days before their MVA. Wife ended up with bruises and scratches, but otherwise fine. Husband ended up being a quadraplegic. He had a cardiac arrest a little over a week after the accident, and died. He was 23 years of age.

    A five time recipient of a liver finally died after the fifth one failed. Her hair was a copper red like the comedian "Carrot Top". She was the most upbeat person, and drew colorful pictures to hang on the walls on the unit, and on the other 19 patient room doors. Her parents took her to a wedding up in Ohio (from NC where she was a patient on my peds unit). On the way back to NC from Ohio (after the wedding), she passed sweetly from this life into the next. She was just 5 years old.

    Very healthy woman who had just had her annual physical two weeks before being admitted to the hospital with lung cancer. The only thing was all her lab work came back "normal", and the doctor gave her a clean bill of health. She never smoked, never drank, exercised like crazy, looked like the perfect picture of health. What went wrong? No one knew! She was 41 when she passed. I was with her and a room full of relatives when she died. They stayed with her for two hours after she passed. They were shocked, to say the least, that the "healthiest one of the family" died two weeks after a physical that was suppose to be a clean one. Today, I wonder if HMO had anything to do with that situation. Hmmmm??? Whose to know???

    There are so many cases where patients touch your life and you never forget them. These were three patients I cared for that I will always remember.
    Last edit by live4today on Apr 5, '02
  9. by   prmenrs
    Mrs. Pulio who had a HUGE decubitus on her sacrum. I managed to get everyone on the ward (I was a student @ that time) to work together to make it better. All the LPN's and aides came to a conference I asked them to, and gave me ideas on things to do for her, and we used as many as possible. Probably the MOST rewarding experience of my student days.

    George R. was a former Yugoslavian freedom fighter from WWII who had survived that time living in a cave. He somehow wound up on my ward with a huge nasty wound leaking bile. I took care of him for 6 months, trying to get him to gain weight, get well, etc. He got drunk one night on some bourbon balls I made!! We all chipped in to rent him a TV; the next week my parents paid for it. (this was in 1968, the hospital didn't have TV's in the rooms.) He did get well.

    The heart surgery pt who threw his urinal @ me. Missed but broke the window.

    The post-op gent who refused to cough and deep breathe--"I've had pneumonia before, it's not so bad". He didn't like the sound of atelectasis, tho, so eventually he cooperated.

    The Med School faculty member lying next to the desk one quiet Sunday morning, trying to laugh as quietly as possible at the jokes we were telling after report, so we wouldn't know he was listening.

    The little African-American baby who had the neatest mom--she would be in the unit all day while her other kids were in school. She told me that her husband was going to get her a dishwasher, but she got pregnant!

    Artie D., a premie I fell in love w/--had a Mom and Dad and big sis, and in the bad ole' days prior to surfactant, fell victim to some REALLY nasty Broncho-pulmonary Dysplasia. He lived 13 months. Very sad.

    Many nameless babies I have held and rocked and cried over as they left this world for something better.

    Juan--whose big brown eyes captured my heart. I adopted him. He's 18 now.

    Natasha came to us from another state with a trach, a g-tube, and a broviac so that she could die closer to her parents home. She's in kindergarten now, w/hearing aids and glasses. she speaks English, signs, and a little Portuguese. I took care of her for about 9 months, and I think she took a few years off my life. She would go into a laryngo-spasm and her TcPCO2 monitor would be reading 3 digits.

    The Mom I taught how to nurse her twins at the same time. And the other countless moms I have convinced that in all likelihood, their bodies really would work and produce enough milk to sustain their baby.

    I really love what I do. I really hate stuff that makes it harder. JACHO. Documenting the he** out of everything. Not having stuff I need when I need it. Little stuff, really.
  10. by   judy ann
    I shall never forget the mom in labor with her fifth baby. I was a student and had the opportunity to stay at the bedside. She began to talk about her first baby, a baby she had placed for adoption. This child had been conceived during a short but torrid love affair as a 16 year old. She lived with two older aunts, as her parents had been killed in a mva when she was 5 yoa. She knew that she could not abort this baby (besides, that wasn't legal then) but she also knew she couldn't keep it no matter how much she wanted to. She and her aunts looked around the area for the agency that had the highest adoption rate (at this time, there were more babies than families looking for babies). When she delivered, she was not allowed to see this child, and wasn't even allowed to know the sex. The only thing she knew was that the child was healthy. As time went by, when she saw a child about the age of her child, she would look carefully, was he clean, did he look happy, did the parent treat him well? After all, that could be her child. Then she made the statement that I have used many times when talking with teens that were adopted and felt that they had been "thrown away" She said "You know, I love all my children very much, but I loved that one the most. I loved him enough to give him up."

    There was the premi that I took care of in the rural hospital when I was traveling. It was a little place, and I had plenty of time, so when I wasn't doing something else, I sat and rocked this angel and we listened to Enya, or Yani, or the like. (I found out later, his parents had to buy him his own tapes--they really prefered Bluegrass). Well, he finally went home(Sob sob) and I really missed him. A few days before I finished that assignment, Mom came in to say good-bye and when that little sweetie heard my voice the arms and legs started going and he was looking all over for his rockin'-singin' buddy. He should be about 5 now. Wonder if he still remembers.:kiss

    Then there was the sweet old man who was very hard of hearing, I was sitting next to him on his bed, so that I could shout into his ear. Suddenly, he threw his far leg over my lap, gave me a big hug, and said "Will you marry me? I'm an old man and I won't give you much trouble." That is how I became engaged to a 94 year old man.
    Last edit by judy ann on Apr 6, '02
  11. by   LasVegasRN
    Wow, I am liking this thread!

    I'll never forget...

    My very first fully assigned to ME patient in nursing school. 10 year old girl, had fallen and fractured her hip at school. Nope, didn't know it, but that's not normal for a 10 year old. The next day, they told me she had cancer and had her leg amputated at the hip. "Go care for her and talk to the mother while you do her stump care" my instructor said, "she's going to be transferred to St. Jude's today". I was speechless and knew RIGHT THEN AND THERE I was not going to be a Peds nurse. I went into the bathroom and threw up - I was devasted for that girl and could not separate my feelings and care for her. No one knew it, but I was excused from clinical that day for being sick but it was really because I was so heartbroken and didn't know how to deal with it.

    The 19 year old cystic fibrosis patient who I watched slowly die, drowning in his own secretions, while we titrated his Morphine drip to comfort, and carried out his wishes to be removed from life support.

    The 41 year old man that came in for an EGD and bled out from every orifice within an hour. Worst code I had EVER been in. Ruptured varices, DIC, a completely saturated and blood soaked egg crate mattress, pressure bags on the pRBC's and platelets. His family was absolutely devastated.

    The 18 year old Guillan-Barre` patient that actually survived the MICU and came back to visit us.

    The medical resident who diagnosed his own Paget's disease.

    The medical resident who was found on a bridge, barefoot and dehydrated, suffering from acute schizophrenia. Playing "UNO" with that same resident, and his big million dollar oh so handsome Brad Pitt smile when he made me 'Draw Four' when we did our psych rotation in the unit where he was now a patient.

    The rabbi, dying from pancreatic cancer, who taught this Christian how to pray.

    I love my profession. And I appreciate each and every life I have had the honor of caring for.
    Last edit by LasVegasRN on Apr 6, '02
  12. by   Writer
    This is a marvelous thread... we have all had those who have touched us in so many ways.... After 31 years in nursing, I am still amazed at the power and strength of the human spirit.

    My unforgettable hall of fame includes:
    The American soldier who was rescued from North Viet Nam. I specialed him one night and because his presence in our military hospital was top secret, I could only be with him and not tell anyone. We talked the whole shift. He had few physical needs, just needed to talk. We played cribbage, poker, watched a movie, just hung out for the whole evening. He transfered back to the US the next day and the papers were soon filled with his survival story. I think of him when I need courage. I still have some of the clippings..
    The teenage girl who had a cancer at age 2, resulting in massive pelvic surgery and was told she would never menstruate, nor be able to have children. She got pregnant, had a stormy pregnancy, but delivered a healthy girl at 36 weeks. I saw her 56 times in that one pregnancy....
    The elderly lady with uterine cancer whose whole wound opened up from radiation effect. It took months, but we got it to heal. She lived a great life for 4 more years, and then the cancer came back. She accepted the final diagnosis with style and gracem and died quietly at home one morning. She had not been very ill, but she knew it was time to go. Her daughter wrote me the most beautiful letter after the funeral.
    And the baby who died at birth, but whose parents taught us a lot of the power of convictions, and the strength that come from within. Their story is here

    We should write a book!
  13. by   mattsmom81
    LOVE everyone's stories!

    And we SHOULD all write books! Maybe a group of us should compile short stories like these into a book, and any proceeds go into a nursing scholarship fund...(after publishing costs reimbursed of course...I know it's expensive to publish...10K right Renee? )

    The saddest memories are of the children who suffer....but they are such a wonder to me...their bravery and clarity of thought.

    I was a student nurse doing my IV team rotation and met a 4 year old end stage leukemia victim who needed a blood transfusion. I was shaking as I tried to start the IV in his tiny, emaciated arm...and he looked up at me with a smile and huge eyes and said "It's OK, I'm a big boy".

    That's when I lost it (of course)and I can't to this day handle peds.... I'm crying again now, cleaning tears off my keyboard remembering that sweet little guy. Pedi nurses have the absolute toughest job of all, I think...
  14. by   micro
    las vegas rn-----cool thread you started here...

    there are so many that stay in my nursing mind.........

    They come from all walks of life, various medical dx and histories, ages.....

    When you interact so deeply and so signicantly as you do as a nurse that you have someone's lives in your hands, let alone their emotions, their families, their fears.......

    KK--too young to die from this.....
    EW--too young to die from this and she went through so much, but she made it home first.....
    PH--overcome by the patient role, but I saw the lady inside.....
    lil'Joe--oh, those eyes that said...and his family...
    PV---she and I took imaginary trips to the beaches just to escape her trapped body and diagnosis

    this nurse, mattsmom and all.....what a gift we do with our technical skills and also our hearts............

    if i thought on this too long, all their faces are there somewhere part of who I am as a nurse.........

    the patients that are so happy and give you the biggest bear hugs when they leave.....cause they know you were part of them getting better and getting back home.....

    the patients that say thanks for stopping for just a few minutes to listen to me, I needed to talk about this and no one is answers.....just listening........


    has the weekend off to recharge and reenergize, be a bit selfish and calgon she can do this again each day...

    las vegas RN keep threading.....