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Pain Is Not Just Physical!

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Understanding a patient's body language may do more for their pain than a pill.

Specializes in Med-Surge; Forensic Nurse. Has 4 years experience.

Pain Is Not Just Physical!

My patient is dying. Literally, slowly, and very uncomfortably, to say the least. She has CHF/COPD, and even with regular NEB treatments, it's difficult to just get in a comfortable position.

One night, as I was giving her routine NEBs and other medications, I noticed she was grimacing and crying. Like any RN, I asked if she was in pain and she shook her head, "No."

I kept talking to her, asking if she wanted me to reposition her or adjust the pillows under her legs. Everything I asked, she just shook her head, "No," but, she kept crying.

She doesn't talk much anyway, but, tonight, she was just not the same. She had this look of fear and anxiety, and she seemed to be much more inconsolable than before. I placed my hands on her extremities, checking to make sure her body temperature was still warm. I checked her O2 and listened to her AP. All were WNL for her condition and her parameters.

What was wrong? I just couldn't figure it out. She was trying to tell me something, but, I just wasn't getting it. I thought of everything I could to make her comfortable, making sure she was not in physical pain. "What is going on?" I asked myself.

I told her I would be back to check on her in about 30 minutes, and as I was about to leave her bedside, she grabbed my hand and wouldn't let go. She looked up at me, with tears in her eyes, and at the same time, I caught a glimpse of some small pile of black beads with a cross on the end, on her bedside table.

I instantly knew what she was trying to say to me. "Do you want me to pray for you?"

She smiled, began to relax, and shook her head, "Yes." So, I prayed with her, as she listened and a small stream of tears ran down her face. She looked much more peaceful and at ease, and as I finished the prayer, she softly said, "Thank you."

I stood in silence as she continued to hold my hand, until she was ready to let go and was able to get a few hours of sleep before her next treatment. I peeped in on her several times over the next few hours, careful to not needlessly awaken her, but, just to make sure she was still resting comfortably.

This woman reminds me of my grandmother and my mother, who have both passed on. The grey hairs, the extra weight in all the wrong places, the tiny little wrinkles that beset the eyes-all the physical features that don't even begin to sum up one's life. I can only imagine that this woman has so many dear memories of loved ones, trials, triumphs, and maybe even some regrets. I would imagine her family loves her as much as she loves them. Is it ever a 'right' time to go? A 'right' time to say goodbye? I silently pray that she has had a beautiful life, and that there will be many good memories left with those she loved so much.

No one knows how long she has left, but, we know she is dying. For now, it's my job to understand what she is saying, even if she doesn't utter any words. That's my gift to her before she goes home. It's the least I can do and I am ever so honored to do so. Would you want any less for those you love? I would want no less for those I love, and I purpose to do it well!

New RN; Christian, mom, wife, sister, friend. Visit www.pulseoftheworldtravel.com for all your travel needs.

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24 Comment(s)

iluvivt, BSN, RN

Specializes in Infusion Nursing, Home Health Infusion. Has 32 years experience.

You can take care of me or my loved ones anytime...what a beatiful soul you have!

Not_A_Hat_Person, RN

Specializes in Geriatrics, Home Health. Has 10 years experience.

There have been some very heated threads about nurses praying with patients. It's a very fine line. I'm glad it worked out for you. I personally would have called a chaplain.

Farawyn

Has 25 years experience.

I'm not religious. The praying didn't jump out at me at all. The "being there" did.

My grandmother died this morning. I hope someone just like you was there with her through her final hours.

Thank you.

JustBeachyNurse, RN

Specializes in Complex pediatrics turned LTC/subacute geriatrics. Has 11 years experience.

I'm not religious. The praying didn't jump out at me at all. The "being there" did.

My grandmother died this morning. I hope someone just like you was there with her through her final hours.

Thank you.

I hope so too. Condolences to you in this tough time

I'm not religious. The praying didn't jump out at me at all. The "being there" did.

My grandmother died this morning. I hope someone just like you was there with her through her final hours.

Thank you.

(((((Farawyn)))))

(I liked your post because I agreed with the first part)

I'm not religious. The praying didn't jump out at me at all. The "being there" did.

My grandmother died this morning. I hope someone just like you was there with her through her final hours.

Thank you.

So sorry about your Grandma. Hugs!!!

annie.rn

Has 21 years experience.

Beautiful post! Thank you for sharing it with us. I hope I am blessed w/ a nurse like you when my time comes :-)

abc123RN

Has 21 years experience.

Farawyn, so sorry about your grandmother. (((HUGS)))

poppycat, ADN, BSN

Specializes in pediatrics; PICU; NICU. Has 43 years experience.

((((Farawyn))))

I'm so sorry to hear about your grandmother. My thoughts are with you.

Eschell2971, BSN

Specializes in Med-Surge; Forensic Nurse. Has 4 years experience.

Ahh...wow, thanks for your support. Take care

Eschell2971, BSN

Specializes in Med-Surge; Forensic Nurse. Has 4 years experience.

I would have been honored to have been there with your grandma. May she rest in peace and I hope you have sweet memories of your time together.

Eschell2971, BSN

Specializes in Med-Surge; Forensic Nurse. Has 4 years experience.

Thank you. I hope the same for you, too!

Eschell2971, BSN

Specializes in Med-Surge; Forensic Nurse. Has 4 years experience.

I understand there are many nurses who have reservations about it; but, it's not illegal or immoral or unethical. If the patient wants it and agrees to it, it can be a therapeutic source of comfort and maybe even healing. It can help them sleep and rest better, too. Even if I didn't pray, I was glad to just 'be there,' present, willing, and able.

JoseQuinones

Has 5 years experience.

I had a narco who had several warrants out for his arrest related to different gangland murders take my hand and ask me to pray for him as he bled out from a drive-by. All the humor-free atheists populating these threads who attack anything having to do with faith should do more feeling for people and less hating on them. Thanks for this post.

Jensmom7, BSN, RN

Specializes in Hospice. Has 36 years experience.

I'm not religious. The praying didn't jump out at me at all. The "being there" did.

My grandmother died this morning. I hope someone just like you was there with her through her final hours.

Thank you.

((((((((Far)))))))

You know how to get hold of me when you need to talk.

Farawyn

Has 25 years experience.

((((((((Far)))))))

You know how to get hold of me when you need to talk.

Thanks, friend. *hugs* I appreciate it, and all of your condolences, thank you.

I really don't want to detract from OP. Her article was great, and hit me at an appropriate time.

NutmeggeRN, BSN

Specializes in kids. Has 25 years experience.

I'm not religious. The praying didn't jump out at me at all. The "being there" did.

My grandmother died this morning. I hope someone just like you was there with her through her final hours.

Thank you.

Awe...Far..I am so sorry. Gentle Hugs.