The Patients Who Break Your Heart - page 2

Being only human, of course, we sometimes cross the line despite our best efforts...and the nurse whose restless dreams are unpopulated by the ghosts of past patients must surely be a rare bird... Read More

  1. by   ElvishDNP
    OMGoodness Allison. My soul hurts reading your story, perhaps more so because I have a 3 year old son. In any case, I am so glad that little girl is away from the evil being that tortured her so.

    Marla, thank you for opening this thread.
    Last edit by ElvishDNP on Nov 15, '07
  2. by   michipichi
    I will be entering Nursing School in Jan. I always thought that I was prepared for this because this is what I've always wanted to do. I have had some interaction with patients years ago as a phlebotomist in a VA Hospital. However, as I sit hear reading all of your stories, my heart is aching and tears are welling up in my eyes. I am praying for God to give me the strength, prepare me, and walk with me on my journey!!

    Thanks for sharing your stories!!!
  3. by   VivaLasViejas
    You already have the just don't know it yet.

    All nurses have similar stories; I'm sure most of us have several books' worth of them. The thing is, no one other than nurses would read them....or could read them without losing their minds. That's what makes us different---we see people at their worst, and yet we are somehow able to go on with our lives. It doesn't make us especially noble..........just different. And very, very blessed.
  4. by   IRCNursing
    I decided ortho/cva rehab was the place I needed to work because I do attach so easily. 100% of our patients need caring, encouragment and nursing and 98% go home and improve. However, we had one man recently come through on and off a vent for 2 months now. Every time we thought he would have a good chance he ended up back in the hospital and then rehab. We grew close to his whole family and he was the sweetest man. You could find he and his wife holding hands or kisses at any given moment. The kind of love every girl wants. It came down to hospice care and the only thing on his mind was going home. He had respiratory issues and we thought he actually wouldn't make it to discharge. However, that Saturday he woke up, put his passey muir in and was like a child at Christmas. He was going home. We loaded him up and said our sad goodbyes. I hugged his wife and asked her please to have her daughter call me day or night. Sometime I never do but this was special. The next morning at shift change (I was coming on) her daughter called. They had gone to bed that night after a wonderful day with family and he didn't wake up. He had made it home, the only place he wanted to be and died next to the love of his life. She was left behind and my heart aches for her loss but he got to go home.
  5. by   awal
    I really enjoy this article and i hope i will continue get this types of article to read
  6. by   VivaLasViejas
    Thanks to all of you for sharing your own heartwarming stories!
  7. by   FranEMTnurse
    Quote from mjlrn97
    From the earliest days of nursing school, when we were taught never to become "too involved" with our patients, we nurses find ourselves balancing precariously on the gossamer thread that separates caring for people and caring about them. Being only human, of course, we sometimes cross the line despite our best efforts........and the nurse whose restless dreams are unpopulated by the ghosts of past patients must surely be a rare bird indeed.

    I'll never forget:

    .........The 29-year-old mother of four who was dying of cervical cancer. Cervical cancer! How many such ailments are both so easily cured, and so tragic when not caught in time? I cared for her during only a single shift, but something still haunts me about the way her mother sat for hours smoothing her long black hair across the pillow, and the quiet dignity that never allowed one word of complaint, even as the bitter pain of the disease and the heartache of her husband's deportation to Mexico at a time when she needed him most gnawed at her.

    Meanwhile, the children played quietly about the room as I performed the tasks which must be done; they seemed to know, somehow, that this was a solemn time, and yet they were polite and curious about what I was doing for their mother. I heard a few days later that she had passed on only a few hours after my shift ended; and my heart cried out angrily for an explanation which has never materialized, even to this day. I think maybe I am not meant to know......only to accept.

    ...........The elderly but still vibrant gentleman who had just been diagnosed with Stage III esophageal cancer and given an estimated six months to live. On the second evening after his diagnosis, he asked my advice on chemotherapy, radiation, and other matters; his mood was genial, and he seemed satisfied after I had presented him with several different options. At that point, he called his family together in his hospital room and talked with them for over two hours, after which discussion he put on his call light and asked me to walk with him around the floor for a short time. This I did gladly, as he was a very pleasant man and I enjoyed talking with him. Then he stopped me short with this six-word sentence: "I'm going to end my life".

    Of course, words of caution immediately sprang to mind---"You mustn't think like that", "Don't give up hope, there are still things they can do for you"---but died on my lips as I looked into his earnest eyes. This man meant what he said, and no psych consult, antidepressant drugs, or pleadings would stop him. I knew that as well as I knew my own name. Still, I begged him to reconsider, citing the devastation his suicide would surely wreak on his family and friends. Finally, he said, "All right, I'll think about it.........for your sake." I was so happy that he'd decided to hold off on harming himself, I hugged him right there in the hallway, and when I discharged him home the following evening, he reassured me that he would still 'think about it' before coming to any decision.

    The next day---or so the local newspaper said---this dignified, self-determined man walked out into his garage and shot himself in the head. And I've never told anyone about the conversation we had that night in the hospital.........until now.

    These are the patients who break my heart. Who is yours?
    Oh Marla, these two stories remind me of two that touched mine. The first one was similar to your own. The woman was a young mom who went for a D and C. Somehow the job got botched up, and the husband was told that the staff in our facility would splint her already flexing wrists.
    As she lay there, not knowing who cared for her, I thought about the young life that had been wasted by a wrong move.

    She was so young, and still had a lot of life to live. After all, she had children who needed her. Or so I thought.

    Day after day she lay, moving more and more into a fetal position, with us helpless to do anything about it except provide her daily care. She lived about three months before she died. It took a lot out of me to see a person so young die like that.

    Your second story reminds me of a retired banker who got a job as a school bus driver. He was the driver, and my daughter was the aide on a bus of handicapped children. I rode on the bus when I went to visit my daughter.

    He was a true gentleman, who warmed the bus up before my daughter arrived, and who always bought his little passengers a gift for their birthdays and for Christmas.

    Then so unlike him, he was late for work one morning. His boss began to question what was wrong, and began to call his family, since there was no answer at his home.

    The following day, on the front page of the newspaper was headlines that read Triple Murder Suicide. As we read the article, we learned that his daughter had been contacted, and learned he had been diagnosed with cancer.

    He and his wife had a son who they cared for with down syndrome and some other brain damage. Not knowing what would happen to them, he walked up behind his wife who was standing at the sink washing dishes and shot her in the back of the head with his hunting rifle. Then he went in his son's bedroom where he lay in his bed, and shot him in the head, finally, he took his own life the same way.
  8. by   FranEMTnurse
    working in an inpt hospice facility, i see heartbreak far too often.
    i hesitate to share, fearing exposure of my pts/families.
    what i can share, however, is i would have fallen apart a long, long time ago, if i didn't have God next to me, at all times.
    He truly is my strength and inspiration.
    i just can't imagine life (or death) without Him.

    God bless you hon. IMHO you are one super nurse
    Last edit by sirI on Nov 21, '07 : Reason: corrected quote
  9. by   FranEMTnurse
    1-13-2007 02:00 pm by allison2008
    the first patient to break my heart was my first pediatric code. it makes me cry to think about it. i remember her name, the date, what she was wearing, everything. i was a newly graduated medic who worked for a small county. we repeatedly visited the same address to pick up a "clumsy" 3-year-old. her mother couldnt have been older than 19, and dad didnt speak english, but he was always yelling at her in spanish. we trekked this baby girl to the er with bruises, fractures and bloody noses atleast twice a month. i mentioned to the ed staff that maybe social services needed to be called in. that just made it worse. the mother begged with them not to do anything. she didnt want to be deported. she swore that baby girl was just a clumsy toddler and that no one was hurting her. it was out of my hands. the last time we picked up the baby girl, she wasn't breathing anymore. she had blood coming from every orifice in her body. her mother was screaming histerically in the front yard. i radioed for the police to please hurry. i picked up baby girl in my arms and rushed her to the back of my rig. i did everything i could. pals was not enough to save her broken little body. i followed her through the ed, contuining compressions with sweat dripping down my face. after an hour of compressions, 6 shocks and 4 rounds of meds, the ed doc came up behind me and said, "allison... you need to stop now. shes gone." i just wanted to hold her and tell her how sorry i was that her life was the way it was. i just wanted to take her pain away. i was so mad at everything.. why couldnt i save her? why didnt anyone else care? she was just a baby!!!! upon autopsy, it was found that she died from a perforated bowel... the day she died, she was sodomized and beaten so badly by her father, that it took her life. i sat in the back of the ambulance that night and cried for baby girl. i prayed that her parents would be put in jail forever and never be allowed to have more children. but when i think about her now... i know that her life with god is better than any life she ever had here.
    this story reminds me of the tiniest girl on my bus. i knew she was being abused. i learned to looked for the signs. she was just 5 years old. she was absent more than she was on the bus.

    one day when she got off the bus, her father was there to greet her with, "come on brat." i felt like punching him.

    other times her mother would stand on the lawn with her hands on her hips and her siblings playing behind her.

    i tried to get close to her, but i could see she was afraid. i made a list of all of the kids in the elementary school, and gave them turns working the door for all the other kids.....elementary, middle, and high. when it came her turn, i managed to get her to stand by me while i showed her how to work it. but she was afraid. it broke my heart.

    but one day as i was returning her home, i met her mother and the siblings going out in a car. when i arrived at the house, (oh i wanted to take her home with me instead.)she slowly got off the bus. when she got to the door, it opened a crack to let her in. i knew her father was alone with her. i had all i could do to refrain from calling the authorities. it was against the policy of the bus company.

    then one day, the older, nasty natured teacher she had, but imho didn't need, approached the bus to see if she was there. it was then that i told her she wasn't and knowing it was a teacher's responsibility to report abuse, i told her i felt she was being sexually abused. her response was, "life is tough." oh i was insensed. i felt like reporting her, because it put a scar on my mind that will never go away.

    my heart broke for that poor little baby girl. i was glad when they moved away so i wouldn't have to pick her up anymore, knowing i was helpless to call the authorities myself.
    Last edit by sirI on Nov 21, '07 : Reason: corrected quoted text
  10. by   FranEMTnurse
    it was without a doubt the most peaceful, and even beautiful, death i've ever witnessed. and as corny as this may sound, i still think of it as the day mrs. l went to heaven to the strains of the music of the angels. beautiful, marla.
  11. by   FranEMTnurse
    Quote from mjlrn97
    You already have the just don't know it yet.

    All nurses have similar stories; I'm sure most of us have several books' worth of them. The thing is, no one other than nurses would read them....or could read them without losing their minds. That's what makes us different---we see people at their worst, and yet we are somehow able to go on with our lives. It doesn't make us especially noble..........just different. And very, very blessed.
    How true, Marla.
  12. by   sunnydaydream
    There is one patient that has always stayed with me. He had just retired and him and his wife were getting ready to enjoy retirement when he was dx'd with a brain tumor, gbm, and ended up at our facility to be cared for (he was in his 70's as she was too). I had gotten really close to all the family and the patient. He had talked about how he didn't want his wife or family there when he passed away, but the wife kept telling us how she wanted to be there and how she didn't want him to be alone.

    A week before he passed away me and another co-worker had gotten a cake and flowers so that they could celebrate their anniversery that day. It luckily was a day that he was pretty with it cognitively. A week later, the night before he passed away a unexpected snow storm came through after the wife went home. That morning I was called into work because I lived close and could get in. I went into work and was working a different unit and as I was walking up the hall I checked on this patient and could tell that he wasn't doing good. The nurse called the wife who then tried to get in, but got stuck, he passed away without her there, but also he was not alone as me and my co-worker buddy stayed with him.

    That day has always stayed in my mind. It's odd how things like that happen.
    Last edit by sunnydaydream on Nov 21, '07 : Reason: typo
  13. by   VivaLasViejas
    A year or so ago, there was one couple in my assisted living facility who were about to celebrate their 56th wedding anniversary. Since both were in poor health, I was concerned that it could be their last; so several of us got together and put on a party for them. And I mean, we did it up right---we outfitted the upper balcony with twinkling white lights and a formal table, then bought champagne, dinner from their favorite restaurant, and cake. Even the administrator got into the act, serving the couple in a suit and tie with a napkin over his arm while the rest of us ran up and down the stairs fetching whatever they needed. It was a night they told us they would never forget........and when the husband passed on a few months later, we all were thankful that we'd made it special for them.

    The picture of the beaming couple, seated at the table that we'd set with silver and gold decorations, still sits on the fireplace mantel in the facility. And even though he is gone now, she still likes to talk about how much that celebration meant to them.

    And that's why I love geriatrics.