I just found out that one of my patients died today. She had been one of mine since her admission 3 years ago, shortly after I got my license. She had Myasthenia Gravis, had a trach, and used a ventilator (only at nite until recently). She was a very alert, intelligent lady, knew as much about her vent as we did, and was very particular about her care. She had never married, but she was from a large family, and they were very close. She was very active in Center activities, and kept us up on all the latest news. Over the last few months, she began to have one URI after another (usually MRSA, so she was on isolation a lot), and her quality of life really began to decline. Her family began to stay with her, due to her declining condition, and she recently became pretty much dependant on the vent. She even began to talk at times about turning off the vent, because she so tired, and felt that her time had come. This afternoon, she went to sleep, and didn't wake up. She had family with her, so she wasn't alone, which I was thankful for. I'm thankful that her suffering is finally over, and that she went peacefully, without pain. We did all that we could for her. I know that. but she has been a big part of my life for 3 years now, and I will miss her terribly.
One of our new LPN's asked me the other night if you ever got used to your patients dying. No, you don't. (Or rather, if you do, you need to find another line of work.) Somehow, you learn to separate your personal feelings enough to do what you need to do. It's OK to get angry over losing the battle, or to mourn the loss of someone you've grown close to...as long as it doesn't interfere with the care you are giving to your patients.
I know I'm rambling. I apologize... I try to talk with my husband about this, but he doesn't get it. I know that all of you would. Thanks for listening.