Today I learned lessons that you just can't learn in nursing school. I am working as a CNA on a telemetry unit while in school. For the last 3 days I have had the grandmother of a fellow nursing student as one of my patients. 2 nights ago she was put to comfort measures only as she started the dying process. When I left at 1900 last night I really didn't think she would be there when I got back this morning. But I got there at 630 today and she passed on at 0700. I was speechless as I stood at the nurses station watching the heart monitor as it went from trigeminy in the 90s, to the 40s, and then to 0. It was hard to take it all in that I was watching someones last heartbeats. The family was amazing. Yesterday they brought US flowers and candy to thank us for her care. When my patients husband was leaving this morning he gave me a hug and said that every Sunday morning for all the years they were married she had gotten up at 7am to get ready for church and this morning she got up at 7am to go to the best church service of life - the eternal service. I got goose bumps all over and broke down with him as we were hugging.
Yesterday one of my other patients was also switched to comfort measures only. His family and I hugged so many times today. He will not make it through the night (was in A-fib and trigeminy when I left). His family just kept telling him "Daddy, it's okay to let go. Go on and be with Jesus. Go where you can dance with Mama again." It was all I could do to get that blood pressure cuff off of him and get out of the room before I started crying. It's so hard to know what to do because I know in my heart that there is a better place than this world and that it's a time to rejoice when someone goes to Heaven. But at the same time, I have also become attached to my patient's family and I see the sadness and fear and pain in them and there is no way for me to ease that. I am going in to nursing to help people, but when you are so helpless because there is nothing more you can do it is hard.
I went home last night and just cried. Finally I decided to talk to someone who could understand what I was dealing with. I called a guy from my nursing class who also works at my hospital as an aide. We talked for a long time and he even called after my shift tonight to check on me and see how our classmate was holding up.
I talked to my nurse today and asked her if you ever get used to it. She said she never has and she also went home last night and cried. Yesterday we alternated crying in the break room. One of the most important things she told me today was that in nursing we deal with life and death situations every day, but we don't really deal with death itself every day (at least on our floor.) They don't teach you how to grieve in nursing school. I know it's always hard to lose a patient, but it was much more personal for me since I had a friend's grandmother die. I need a really good night's sleep tonight.
Thanks for reading this and I'm sorry I was long winded.
Sep 24, '06
Sounds like a rough weekend.
I'm glad you have some support as you go through this.
Sep 25, '06
Thanks. When we got to clinicals tonight I was talking to my instructor and told her what a rough weekend it had been for me. One of our other students had a miscarriage of her twins over the weekend and she came but couldn't stop crying. Then when the student who's grandmother died came in she started crying and was thanking me for helping them out this weekend and I started crying and a couple of the other students started crying. We only have 12 in our class,so 5 crying student nurses in a nursing home isn't a good thing. So our 2 instructors decided we needed to have some time to share what was going on with all of us so we went to the break room and spent 2 hours talking, crying, and just letting people vent. THen she told us all to go home and get a good night's rest. I feel so much better and am looking forward to some good sleep.
Sep 26, '06
I can't believe your instructor did that for you. That was soooo nice!!!!
Tell her thank you from me
See, not all nurses "eat there young".
Sep 26, '06
Yes, she's a hospice nurse so she deals with death a lot. She kept saying that you just get used to it, but the nurses I worked with this weekend said they never have, they've just gotten better at doing their job in spite of it and crying when they need to.
Sep 26, '06
I did a co-op at a community and everything went great till just near the end. it was like a death every week. People who were dear to me. Friday was supposed to be my last day (though my employers are keeping me in Pool) and one lady i really made smile and talk to me(she wouldn't talk to anyone else) died. i had planned to go visit her the day before cuz she was on hospice but i was too busy with other stuff so i forgot.
I've learned death is a normal part of nursing and i've found little ways to deal with it.
Sep 26, '06
I work at a nursing home and have had plenty of elderly patients die on me. I have never cried or felt emotional because I am comfortable with my own views on death and dying. My lack of emotion also has much to do with my upbringing, as I was raised by an overbearing mother and an emotionally cold father who often ridiculed me. I don't have any close, loving family ties currently.
However, I will always miss my deceased patients and take comfort in knowing that they're in a better place.
Sep 26, '06
Reading that story gave me chills and tears in my eyes. But it also made me realize why I want to be a nurse so bad!
I'm working on the oncology floor as a nurse extern and the other people I go to school with say how can you work on a cancer floor where everyone is dying? ANd i told them not everyone is dying first of all,and second ofall these people really need your help and are greatful for all that you do for them. I have had patients that I got close too die and I was really sad about it. But it also made me happy to know that things that I did for them made all the difference in the world and they were truely grateful for what I did. The best reward was having them remember your face when you were their nurse more days than one. Because they have so many people coming in and out and when they actually remember you.. it makesyou feel good about yourself like you're doing something right.
Must Read Topics