The Patients Who Break Your Heart - page 5

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   Justhere
    Oh I about cried so many times reading these stories. I have told my story so much about the little boy I use to take care of and wrote the article My Little Mandona (translation "Bossy"). But it is so touching to read how everyone has been touched by a patient or their family. Those are the ones that will stay in your mind forever.
  2. by   diane227
    Your story really touched my heart. You did what you could do and all you could do. You were his nurse and you helped him with compassion and caring and I bet at the end, he thought about that as well.
  3. by   Harmonynurse
    Many patients break my heart. One especially...a middle age mute and deaf man was hit and run by a stupid car while crossing a road, came in to ICU severely injured. Surgeon, intensivist, residents, nurses, pharmacist and respiratory therapist in room trying to save his life. But his lungs collapsed and died. His wife also mute and deaf came in yell as loud as she could and banging on anything she could touch (she couldn't hear), it broke the heart of every single person on the floor. Everyone in tears including the normally cold hearted doctors. His wife later brought in their two healthy 4 and 5 years old sons, again it makes all of us cry. Second day, she called trying to thanks the nurses by tapping the phone (that's is how mute and deaf people communicate thru the phone). I can never forget that day...
  4. by   SaraSRN
    Quote from flightnurse2b
    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.

    I just wanted to remind everyone that most, if not all, states have mandatory reporting laws to CPS and that it is the responsibility of the person who suspects abuse to report the suspicion (not the person you hand care off to). There is no reason to feel guilty for reporting because if the family has nothing to hide then nothing further will happen and, sadly, it often takes multiple reports to get real results. This story is increadibly tragic and frustrating due to the fact that the person that wrote it could have prevented the childs death.
  5. by   morte
    Quote from SaraSRN
    I just wanted to remind everyone that most, if not all, states have mandatory reporting laws to CPS and that it is the responsibility of the person who suspects abuse to report the suspicion (not the person you hand care off to). There is no reason to feel guilty for reporting because if the family has nothing to hide then nothing further will happen and, sadly, it often takes multiple reports to get real results. This story is increadibly tragic and frustrating due to the fact that the person that wrote it could have prevented the childs death.
    ah, the self righteousness of youth, ....much i would like to say to you would, i am sure, be againt the TOS...
    but how could you be so unkind? have you not done your psych rotation yet? did you not see the part about her being very new to this job? did you not see the pain?
  6. by   goats'r'us
    we don't judge here saraSRN.

    I wish this poster, and the poster who wrote about the little girl on the bus, had called CPS too, because you're right, they could have potentially made a difference in these kids lives, but for whatever reason they didn't.

    they'll probably regret not acting differently forever. I don't think they need to be told.
  7. by   aggieRN12
    Wow... that's really all I can say! Thanks to all for sharing!
  8. by   ThorpyNurse
    Love this thread, in my 2nd year of nursing training in the UK and already have a a "collection" of bittersweet memories very deep down from people I have cared for.

    I think the patient that affected me the most was a middle-aged lady on my first ever ward placement as a very new 1st year. She had a multitude of problems, including bowel issues causing weight loss & pain. The Dr's had found breast & lung mets but hadn't yet found a primary when I first met her in the middle of a heat wave - unbearable in a stuffy 6-bedded ward! One morning I went to see her and she seemed incredibly low. She had quite an anxious nature anyway, something the trained staff had been quite scathing about behind her back (to my anger), but she seemed particularly down that day. I sat down with her and chatted for a few minutes, she revealed how frightened she was that she would die, and that it would be in hospital rather than with her family. She also said that she just felt hot and sweaty and sticky and miserable and would love a shower, but her fragile state meant she had been having mobility issues and she'd been making do with the dreaded basin at the bedside, as the staff hadn't "had time" to shower her. I scurried off to check with her named nurse that it would be okay for me to give her an assisted shower, and got the thumbs-up.

    I used a commode to wheel the lady into the shower so that she didn't need to move too much, and spent 20 mins giving her a hand to get washed, dried and dressed again. I also gave her a brief scalp massage whilst shampooing her hair - I'm a trained massage therapist - and we had a good giggle the whole way through. I helped settle her back to bed, and when I came back to help her blow dry her hair she was glowing - it really moved me to see how much difference such a small act had made. She knew I was very early in my training, and heaped praise upon me, telling me what a great nurse I was going to be etc etc. I was sure she was just being kind but it was lovely to hear at the time, and I was grateful to her for boosting my non-existent confidence.

    A day or too later I saw the palliative team sitting with her, and learned that they'd found the primary Ca which was inoperable. I spent a little more time with her before she was transferred to another ward, during which time her greatest fear was still dying in the hospital. After she transferred, I seriously considered going to visit her in the other ward, but decided against it, realising it could upset her and was probably borne more of a need for my own reassurance.

    A month or so later, I read in the local paper that she had passed away very peacefully in a local hospice (which is a fantastic and highly-rated facility), surrounded by her family. I cried a little that she had gone, but felt so relieved she hadn't had to die in the hospital where some of the staff were, at best, indifferent. The hospice would have treated her properly, with dignity, respect and compassion, which sadly isn't the case in the particular hospital I was working in.

    it might not sound much, but I will never ever forget her name and the huge difference she made to me; I am a very emotional and sensitive person - something I am regularly teased about by other nurses - and my experience with her cemented my passion for caring one-on-one with patients. Yes, maybe it kills me a bit inside sometimes, but I am honoured to spend time with people at their most vulnerable and needy, and to see them for who they are, not what they have wrong with them. I cherish the fact I can, and do cry at the end of shifts sometimes. As nurses, I believe we are blessed and humbled by the humanity we care for, and I'm proud that I'll be able to call myself a registered nurse in just over a years time.
  9. by   nurseprnRN
    All of the above, and more. I had a guy whose brother slept under his bed in the hospital at every admission because neither of them had homes. We ordered him trays in the name of people who were NPO.

    The saddest ones, though, were back in the day of the early AIDS epidemic. I posted this on another thread last year.

    I'm old enough that I worked ICU when the AIDS epidemic was just beginning, and I was in the San Francisco-Seattle axis where we had a lot of gay patients anyway. I must say that it was a time when I was not proud of a lot of my colleagues. I would take my patient assignment of some poor man with what was then a fatal pneumocystis pneumonia (thank god we have better treatment now) and soon a fearful face would peek around the door with the unspoken question: Would this nurse let me in to see my lover who is dying? So many wouldn't, would shoo them away saying, "Family only!" as if the patient would have any family members who would even acknowledge his existence. It absolutely broke my heart. "Please come in," I would say. "I'm sure he'd be so happy to have you here. Would you like to help me bathe him?" "Can I?" "Of course you can, I'm sure he'd prefer you to me at this point!" The tenderness between these guys was indescribable.

    I had one experience, among so many, that was particularly heartbreaking. I was floated to a general surgery floor for a coupla summer days and for some reason we had a man with pulmonary failure on the "hot" side of the house, where the sun just baked the rooms all afternoon and no amount of air-conditioning would keep up with it. He wasn't my patient but I covered him when his nurse went to lunch, and his light went on. "Hey, Jen's at lunch. I'm GrnTea, what can I do for you?" He was lying in bed with the oxygen on, sweating and breathing with difficulty, and he said, "I'm just so hot. Can you help me?" So I got a basin of ice chips and alcohol (remember that? We did that before we had cooling blankets) and some washcloths and started to swab him down. And he started to cry. I stopped, startled, said, "What? What? Am I hurting you?" and he wept and wept and said (and this is where I start to cry now and every time I think of this story, thirty years later), "Nobody has touched me for three weeks." That poor man, in the hospital sick as a dog and knowing he was probably going to die very soon, and not one nurse had helped him bathe or eat or turn as he got weaker and weaker. It broke my heart.

    The next day I went in and asked to care for him again. He had been found dead on the floor of his room, having taken off his oxygen to go to the bathroom, probably because he thought nobody would answer his light, and probably desaturated enough to pass out. And they didn't find him until change of shift because nobody looked in on him all night.
  10. by   ElvishDNP
    Oh God, GrnTea. How very very sad....God bless you for reaching out to these men. I am sure they are waiting on the other side to thank you themselves.
  11. by   tattednsgstudent
    I have been working as a CNA for 13 yrs and will be going back to school this fall for my RN. I am asked all the time by students who come in our building"how can you do this day in day out?' Usually this was asked aftera particularly difficult day. My answer has always been...I don't know I just do. Sometimes I find a little corner to go cry in and sometimes I go speak with "grandma" who is a retired nurse.
    The hardest time I had with a patient wasa patient whom I cared for on the alzheimers unit. She remained a sweet lady right till the end and her family was the kind of family you dream about. I held her in my arms as she died. She had bled out and no one seemed to be able to stomach it. Her last request of me was to have a sip of my pop that I had in the room with me. I gave a small bit in a cup, she drank it smiled and took her last breath 30 min. later. I was "ok" while I cleaned her up and got her ready to go out. Then her daughter showed up and hugged me and I lost it. This lady was only my second post care and 12yrs later I could still tell you what she was wearing when she passed.

    One of my favorite stories will always be of an elderly downs patient whos favorite thing to have was mt. dew. oh and paper to draw on. I always knew that if I was having a bad day I could go see her and it would be made better by seeing her mega watt smile.

    These days its realizing what an impact you make on someones life. When I came back from vacation recently made to cry by two ladies that some of the nurses call "diva A and diva B".I'm not sure why, but I have never liked it. All these ladies said to me was " thank goodness you're back because no one else knows how to make the good milkshakes" I laughed and cried at the same time. Something so simple, that they liked to have a couple of times a week. I also care for a lady who likes for me to braid her hair and she falls asleep every time.

    I try to tell the nursing and cna students that this is what gets me through the tough times and I hope it is what will get me through nursing school at 40. I never thought when I started this that I would like ltc, but now I can't see working anywhere else. I don't think I will ever be able to not get attatched, but I wouldn't change it for the world.

    Thank you for your story