Post Clinical Depression

  1. After my clinical shift, I often feel depressed. Seeing what time and age can do to the body is a bit unsettling to me. At times when I am caring for my patient, the face that I see is often me. Knowing that time sprares no one I often wish time would slow down just a little. After leaving the hospital I have this sad feeling that comes over me. I think about these people who were once vibrant, young, and full of energy, now needing help to do what once came as second nature, and some needing total care fo their survival. I have seen shame and embarrasment in their eyes of as I clean them up, change their diapers, and prep them for bed. The total loss of autonomy eats at them like a cancer, with some knowing that they will never recover. I have had a few ornery patients that seem to be mad at the world and bitter at all that is young and youthful, and have wondered to myself why, but now understand with each passing clinical day. Aging can be both a blessing and a curse. Watching children and loved ones grow into adulthood can be priceless, but the pain and suffering brought on by old age can be depressing. Watching loved ones suffer and die is not my idea of a blessing. Sorry for the depressing thread, just wanted to vent.
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    About gerry79

    Joined: Jan '04; Posts: 670; Likes: 257
    Family Nurse Practitioner; from US
    Specialty: ED, Cardiac Medicine, Retail Health

    10 Comments

  3. by   babynursewannab
    Gonna have to go hit the cookie dough after that one....
    :icon_hug:
  4. by   grentea
    i get sad sometimes too. plus i start thinking about what life is going to be like for me when i'm older and then i extend it to my boyfriend and i really get worried. i mean sometimes i think i worry about things that no 24 year old should ever worry about, like my boyfriend developing atherosclerosis some day down the line from eating pizza every day. i feel like i've heard people say to me way too many times, "take care of yourself while you can." so while it may be a little neurotic, i am genuinely worried about how i'm treating my body right now will effect me in thirty years. anyways...i got off the topic. i just wanted say i hear ya, and as depressing as things can be sometimes don't forget that you can make things a little better for your patients even if they're not going to really get physically better. simply caring about them as people might be more than anyone has ever done them and i think that when you do really care your patients can tell and that comforts them.
  5. by   Imafloat
    We were just saying that getting really old is like regressing back to being a baby. I don't usually feel sorry for the elderly patients I care for. I imagine all the things they have seen in their lives. I am just glad that I can be a part of the end of their lives, because I really do care about them. I like to listen to them tell me about the good old days.

    The thing that breaks my heart is the neighborhood I have to drive through to get to the hospital. I see young moms with lots of kids, school aged kids hanging out on the streets, homeless people. That is what breaks my heart. My mom was a young mother with lots of kids, but that was 40 years ago, the world has changed so much that it makes me sad to think about the futures of these people.
  6. by   AKAKatydid
    Quote from babynursewannab
    Gonna have to go hit the cookie dough after that one....
    :icon_hug:
    :yeahthat: I hear you on that one.

    Gerry, hon..
    I wish I had something reassuring to tell you but I don't really know what to say. We lost a patient Monday on the floor where I tech at, and I can totally relate to your feelings. :icon_hug:
    It sounds like you must be doing your clinicals on a geriatric floor or at a nursing home. Fortunately, it's not always like that. Maybe you'll be able to get a round at med/surg? There you see a great mix - including people who you get an opportunity to help recuperate. (I'm looking forward to my semester of maternity nursing. I hear it's difficult, but I'm looking forward to seeing some more smiles on the floor.)

    ~*~kendra~*~
  7. by   grinnurse
    When I first started working on a rehab floor as a tech. I would often find myself thinking about how I would be in old age. I have seen all kinds and been around family members that were alot older than me. I take joy in knowing that I was helping them get better. In clinicals I like everyone else did my rotation on med surg and that could really be depressing. I had a patient one time that had an ileostomy and a colostomy just put in and she was barely 55. She had done everything right in life-no smoking, drinking, etc......just bad genes. She also had breast ca. on top of all the other and had contracted polio at a younger age. When I first began taking care of her, I could hardly get her to speak or open the curtains. The first post-conference with her as my patient I cried. I couldn't help it. But, by the end of my rotation, I had her smiling and looking at her ostomy sites. I found out about a month after I had her she had passed away. This was the first patient that I had taken care of as a student nurse that had died. I was down and then I got to thinking. How lucky she is.........she gets to be with the loved ones that have gone before her and I felt better. I thought about all the pain that she had been in the last months of her life and knew she was no longer in pain.

    I know this will be the hardest part of nursing b/c I do get attached to my pateints and wonder how in the world I will get past those days? I think my faith will play a big part in this and the fact that I gave the best care that I could to them.

    Take care
  8. by   Marie_LPN, RN
    I know what you mean. I'll never forget some of my clinical days.

    My psych rotation where i read about a pt. who was forced to watch his mother, sister, and wife be raped and sodomized, and then forced to watch them get shot and bleed to death. Taht was the moment i knew i didn't want to be a psych nurse, there's no way that job wouldn't affect me.

    Another psych pt. who had a brother that molested him for years growing up, yet this was the same BROTHER who ENCOURAGED him to get help. I think two people in that situation needed HELP.

    Maternity, seeing a 16 year old who just gave birth to her second and thrid child, and constantly hearing her talk about "all the cute clothes" she was going to buy when she got her tax check back. Listening to her you would have thought she was talking about a doll!

    Oncology, the look in a 53 year old man's eyes. They looked dull, depressed, no soul to them. Everytime his family talked to the doctor about more treatment options for his stomach cancer, he always stared at the floor. The way he looked at the nurses, you got the feeling he didn't want to do these treatments, that he was only going along with it just for the family.

    The O.R., with a female pt. crying before her D and E, because this was her 6th miscarriage, and she wanted a child so badly (she later adopted).

    The E.R. watch a code, seeing the pt. was not going to make it. And his sons were in the room, knowing their dad was dead. I've seen the sons in public several times. I recognize them instantly, and i know they don't know me.
  9. by   Curious1alwys
    The cookie dough comment was hilariously funny...........


    Anyway, I am not even in nursing school yet and I feel the way you describe. I felt it in my CNA clinicals, but like another poster guessed, my clinical was in long term care (nursing home). I hope that some parts of the hospital environment are different or atleast I learn to see it a different way. I feel like you do and those feelings make me second guess whether or not I am cut out to be a nurse. But, I guess it means you have compassion, and that is good.....
  10. by   SmilingBluEyes
    I remember an old and very sick COPD patient dying just as I was wrapping up clinical. I still remember her desperate cries for help, (unable to breathe) and the haunting look of her eyes. I cried when I heard she died 10 min after I left the floor.

    9 years later, that face stays with me always. I feel for you. Yes, I do. Been there, done that. I can't say it gets "easier" but you do learn to put these things in their proper place in your heart and mind. With time and experience.
  11. by   mariedoreen
    I guess it affects me in a different way. Usually I am really impacted by what I see happening from people who don't live in a healthy, preventive manner. It's like the car accident you can't turn away from when you drive past. Experts say most people are not looking because they're a voyeur, they're instinctively compelled to look in an effort to try to figure out how the other person wrecked so they can learn from it -- it's an evolutionary kind of thing.

    I'm the same way in clinical, when I have a COPD/Emphysema pt w/ a 40 pack year history it reinforces the dangers of smoking to me. When I see the problems that come with obesity, diabetes, HTN etc... it reinforces the value in other healthy practices to me. When I see the immobility that some have in their older years it reinforces the value of life long exercise to me. Do I live the life I'm talking about? Not consistently, and I think that's why I keep seeing those lessons everytime I go to clinical, because I need it reinforced to me.

    There are things you cannot change and there are things you can do to increase the odds that you're going to age better physicially and mentally. Just remember OP that all you see is not inevitable.
  12. by   UM Review RN
    Quote from gerry79
    After my clinical shift, I often feel depressed. Seeing what time and age can do to the body is a bit unsettling to me. At times when I am caring for my patient, the face that I see is often me. Knowing that time sprares no one I often wish time would slow down just a little. After leaving the hospital I have this sad feeling that comes over me. I think about these people who were once vibrant, young, and full of energy, now needing help to do what once came as second nature, and some needing total care fo their survival. I have seen shame and embarrasment in their eyes of as I clean them up, change their diapers, and prep them for bed. The total loss of autonomy eats at them like a cancer, with some knowing that they will never recover. I have had a few ornery patients that seem to be mad at the world and bitter at all that is young and youthful, and have wondered to myself why, but now understand with each passing clinical day. Aging can be both a blessing and a curse. Watching children and loved ones grow into adulthood can be priceless, but the pain and suffering brought on by old age can be depressing. Watching loved ones suffer and die is not my idea of a blessing. Sorry for the depressing thread, just wanted to vent.
    I felt the same way you did once. I decided that the way they felt about themselves was not a healthy way to feel. I decided to do something about it.

    I became a nurse.

    I take care of my patients in a way that restores their dignity, celebrates their life experience and wisdom, acknowledges their humanity and nourishes their spirit.

    I learned to look past the ailing body and learned to care for the patient within. I firmly believe that as we learn to look past the frail human body and see the person within, we bond with that person in a way that no other relationship can.

    And it benefits us both.

    Yes, someday that patient might be you. But a good nurse will look deeper and will see you and not that body you will one day shed.

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