The Patients Who Break Your Heart - page 3

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   Valerie Salva
    What a nice article.
  2. by   VivaLasViejas
    Thank you so much!
  3. by   nursechic1968
    As a hospice nurse of 15 yrs I have had many wonderful patients who have touched my life in countless ways...but one in particular will remain in my heart forever.

    "Johnny" was bright, handsome, mischevous 39 yr old young man who always had a smile and never missed an opportunity to engage me in some friendly banter. His mother once commented that we sounded like two siblings "arguing". "Johnny" agreed and from that day forward I was his "sister".

    Diagnosed with Friedreich's ataxia at age 5, Johnny" was in a wheelchair by age 9 and blind by age the time he graduated college at age20 he was blind His disease progressed very rapidly leaving him confined to bed, his speech severely impaired, his spastic limbs in constant uncotrollable motion and totally dependent.
    But for "Johnny" giving up was out of the question. He had a goal - to the be longest surviving person with his severe form of Friedreich's. If he could just make it one more year.

    I am now ashamed to admit that when I first met my beloved friend, I was overcome with pity and sorrow for a life so tragic and wasted. I prayed that God would quickly and mercifully release "John" from this horrible existence. Thankfully, that prayer went unanswered.

    Over the next 2 yrs I had the honor of being both nurse and "sister" to this amazing man. We spent hours laughing, talking, crying. We talked about God and the angels he believed were all around him. We explored religion, contemplated the meaning of life and talked about death. We took imaginary trips to incredible places, describing in rich detail all we saw. Sometimes we created mythical creatures, even giving them names and personalities. Mostly we talked about what "Johnny"
    knew best - love. Johnny loved everything and everybody - The God who had created him "special", the family who devoted thier lives to his 24 care and happiness, his friends and all who touched his life.

    At the end of each visit I would kiss "Johnny's" cheek and tell him I loved him. Usually he would say he loved me too, but one day he remained quiet for several minutes and then begin to tell me how much he wished he could hug and kiss me in return. Unable to control his facial muscles enough to purse his lips, he was embarassed. Finally I convinced him to try and pressed my check to his mouth - that big wet slobbery "baby-like" kiss was the best kiss I ever had and I told him so. True to form he responded "you havent lived much have you?" It still brings tears to my eyes.

    Shortly before "Johnny" left us, we had a long talk about heaven and he was imagining what it was going to be like to walk and talk and see and....DANCE. He had always dreamed of dancing. That night Johnny and I made a deal...he would save the first dance for me. I am gonna hold him to that one.
  4. by   VivaLasViejas
    That is a beautiful story...........thank you for sharing it with us (as I swipe furiously at eyes which are suddenly VERY wet).:flowersfo
  5. by   KJRN79
    I was what? 23, maybe? My patient was a good looking 21 year old guy, he had shot himself in the back of the head. His family waited in the hallway. They didn't want to come until he was gone. Then they came in.

    The 37 year old woman G 9, P 0, miscarrying triplets. The delivery of those triplets on our unit.

    The first maternal demise after delivering a healthy baby girl. Mom had a ruptured cerebral aneurysm.

    "My" AIDS baby. He was 6 when he passed. What a smile that kid had, even though he never spoke. The boy with AIDS with the same birthdate as my son. whoo hoo, he's 17 next week!

    Thank God for the ones who make us smile and not dwell on the ones who make us cry.
  6. by   Daywalker
    These stories are beautiful, heart-rending, and uplifitng. Thank you.
  7. by   wildeisenkcmo
    I remember the 3 y/o little girl I took care of who was being molested in the hospital room while she was in a spica cast. I was in the DON's office being told that I would be fired if I kept making these allegations (after a state investigation decided my charges were untrue) when her UA came back full of semen. I remember the young mother who was holding her baby in her lap when the driver of the car she was in broad-sided an 18-wheeler's trailer being backed across the road, and trying to help her deal with her trauma secondary to the baby's decapitation. I remember the woman who was pinned under her dead mother in a wheelchair for hours after being caught trying to get to safety during a tornado. I had to sedate her every time the air conditioner had to be turned on, but I also remember the man whose family was notified of his impending death only to have him turn it around and WALK out upon discharge. I remember the lady whose baby was in fetal distress, but was born healthy because I was in the right room at the right moment. I'll never forget so many people and stories from the 20 years of nursing that have made me who I am as a person and I'm glad I dedicated my life to it, even though there were times I just wanted to go fry burgers for McDonalds instead. I always believed that we as nurses have an obligation to use our strength in the defense of those who are too weak to defend themselves, regardless of any consequences to us. Today I train the next generation to carry the torch and they are already making me proud.
  8. by   wildeisenkcmo
    Good luck to you, young nurse. Never forget, "I can do all things through Christ which strengthens me." That is the verse that has carried me through so many people's grief and pain, including, at times, my own. If it's really bad, I repeat it over and over to myself, placing the emphasis on different words...."I can do.." "I can do..." etc. Hope this is a tip that helps you stay sane.
  9. by   mother/babyRN
    Wow....Thank you so much....I hope we all try and somehow even remotely achieve the kind of care we would want delivered to us and our families. I can tell that you are the epitome of the kind of nurse we all strive to be...Thank you..
  10. by   jenn27
    I really don't have the words, just THANK YOU. thank you for your stories and thank you for the wonderful jobs you do. Sometimes things happen that are so hard even impossible to comprehend. I tell myself if we had all the answers then we wouldn't be here.
  11. by   jelorde37
    i cared for a 47 year old man who had an appendectomy gone wrong and ended up with a foot long wound in he abdomen as well as a colostomy. i got to chat with him for quite some time due to the fact that i was changing his wound vac dressing. he was one of the nicest people ive ever taken care of. i remember him asking me if he'll get better and that if he'll be able to go home to his wife and 4 children despite the fact that he has a foot long incision on his abdomen. i remember reassuring him that the facility i work at has a great wound team and that he should take little steps at a time in his recovery. he told me that he was the bread winner in his family and that his illness has made his wife et a job working $8 an hour trying to support his family - and i only reassured him again. i found out that two days later he ended up coding and they couldn't bring him back... it breaks my heart when i think of it because i start question my ability as a nurse, the state of his family, and the reassurance i gave him. well, i found out that his cause of death might have been an infection to the foot long wound he had in his abdomen. he had no signs of infection but some how i wish that i could have spotted it before.
  12. by   oreo11
    AS a pediatric nurse for 11 years, I can truly say I understand the very heartbreak you felt then and are still feeling to this day. That kind of death just does something to you mentally and deep in your heart. I'm so very sorry that you had to deal with not only her death but they frequent visits to this house. May God bless you and give you some measure of peace.
  13. by   oreo11
    Oh my gosh!!! I had goose pumps all up and down my body with that story. Thank you for sharing!