Unforgettable patients

  1. I just read a post in another thread about a young man who had cancer in his heart. It was a very sad story, and reminded me of a patient I once took care of when I worked in Oncology. This young man came to us with a diagnosis of leukemia. He had gone to his doctor with complaints of fatigue and was given the diagnosis. When I first met him, he looked healthy and very handsome. He had a beautiful wife, and two little boys who were as handsome as their father. He had his course of chemotherapy, and of course lost his hair, and became painfully thin. After his chemo, he went for a bone marrow transplant, and developed graft versus host disease. He came back to our unit, and was unrecognizable. He died a few days after, and the whole unit greived for him. The situation was made worse by the fact that he and his wife did not cope very well with the situation, and their relationship had deteriorated because of it. His children would probably only remember him as a pitiful, sick man, not the robust healthy young man he had been. I still get very sad when I think about this patient, and will never forget him.
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    About RNinICU

    Joined: May '02; Posts: 979; Likes: 11


  3. by   bellehill
    This past week I took care of an elderly woman who was in with respiratory distress. As a DNR she had been intubated after her nursing home called 911 and never delivered the "no code" status. She was on my floor after a brief stay in the ICU. When I came on she was having difficulty breathing. After many breathing treatments and calls to the MD nothing had changed. The MD even came up to see her and finally ordered Ativan to calm her down.

    I will never forget the fear in her eyes or the sadness. I know I did everything I could for her and yet it wasn't enough. She admitted to me she was scared because she couldn't breathe, all I could do was give her hugs and kissess.

    As my first pt who truly touched me and the first pt I was able to cry over, I will always remember her. :angel2:
  4. by   fedupnurse
    I have a few. One was similar to RNinICU's story. We had a young guy who was in the hospital with his wife having their first baby. He collapsed at some point during her stay and was found to have very, very advanced cancer. They gave him 3 weeks. We convinced him to spend his remaining time with his wife and baby rather than be tortured by us.
    Another was just last summer. A woman around my age waiting for a lung transplant. She ended up on a vent so she was taken off the list. She was with us for about 6 weeks. Most of the staff hated taking care of her because she was very particular about how things were done. I had no problem caring for her. I knew she was dying and that I could make an impact on her last days on this planet. We ended up transferring her to Philly where she died a few weeks later.
    We had a long standing dialysis patient who was in her 20's. She was a drug addict on top of it all. This little 4' nothin' 70 lb. weakling could extubate herself by blinking her eyes, I swear!! Didn't matter if she was restrained or not. One flick of her tongue and out came that tube. She also ended up dying far too young.
    I had a new mom who just had triplets and went into CHF after the delivery. I was able to get her extubated at the beginning of my shift and she was stable enough to go meet her babies late in my shift. That is something I will never forget. She was actually able to hold one. Fortunately the medical resident that night knew and trusted my judgement and knew I wouldn't take her if I thought it could be a problem. It was the best medicine for her.
    Those are a few of the highlights. Some are sad but it just goes to show you, we do make a difference in people's lives.
  5. by   oldnewnurse
    My father was a patient on a surg floor recovering from a colostomy. His room was at the very end of the hall. At that time, the hospital stay was very long and day after day I passed another ca patient's room with no flowers, no card, no visitors. One day on my way in I stopped and bought two balloons and some flowers only to find the intended recipient had died during the night. It was probably the initial memory I have of wanting to be a nurse, of wanting to make a difference in a life and realizing that I needed to act instead of waiting for somebody else to do it as I did. That was more than 30 years ago.
  6. by   finallyRN
    My most memorable patient was when i was still working on med-sug. He was 50 something, newly remarried with grown children. He came into the hospital for abdominal pain. He was due to have a CT with oral contrast. The order was to pass an NG and give the contrast. Well several of us attempted to pass the NG. Everytime we got to a certain point the patient would scream and rip the tube out of his nose and our hands. We tried on several occasions (including the MD) finally the MD just ordered a CT without contrast. Anyway somewhere down the line it was discovered that he had a cancerous lesion in his esophagus. So we had been jamming the NG into this lesion trying to pass the tube. He ended up getting really sick really fast. I think he lasted two maybe three weeks after diagnosis. He has difficult to take care off because he was in denial of how sick and weak he was, very billigerent. the poor wife, i felt so bad for her. The grown children who lived in Hawaii were refusing to come see their father but kept yelling at the new wife to do something for their father. She was at her wits end. Whenever i had a free moment I would sit with her as she told stories of the short time they had shared together. I got to know the healthy loving man he really was.
  7. by   KaraLea
    I can still remember the lady with breast cancer. She had refused any treatment when she was dx. Just wanted to use "Natural" treatments. Basically she put a Mineral oil plaster on her breasts and then when she took a shower, the cancer was supposed to "Fall off". Well, the cancer ended up eating all the way to the outside so she had this huge gaping, stinking hole where her left breast used to be. We ended up just covering the area with "Chucks" to keep the drainage to a minimum and gave her morphine for the pain because there was nothing else we could do. I only took care of her for 4 hours before she died, but I remember that she was in a Respiratory isolation room simply because of the odor alone. You had to wear two masks if you were going to change the chucks and the odor was still enough to make you pass out. I called my doc the next day for my first mammogram.