I was doing the usual end of shift vitals when I walked past what had been an empty room all day. In the room, chair sat a very petite lady looking very lost and scared.
I walked in, shook her hand, and introduced myself. She told me her name and followed it by "I had a doctor's appointment today and he sent me right here and wouldn't tell me why. I don't have anything either. He wouldn't let me go back home and pack a bag."
I told her that we had stuff on the unit, and I'd pack her up a goodie bag and be right back. I returned a few minutes later with the usual patient goodie bag, blankets, gown, lift pad, towels, washcloths, and tissues.
Sensing she wanted to keep her independence, I handed her the gown and asked her if she needed any help getting undressed. She told me no, but asked me to stay with her anyway. After getting her vitals and getting her into bed, I found her nurse and told gave her a report. I followed it up with her being very scared. I stayed with her for another hour and missed clinical, but it was worth every hour I had to make up.
I had the pleasure of taking care of her for almost two weeks. During her stay, we had wonderful talks and she told me all about her life, her family, and she gave me a wonderful recipe for red gravy. One morning, I was told she needed to go downstairs for a test. I brought the stretcher into her room and I could tell immediately she was scared. As she got on the stretcher she said to me "Kylee, I'm scared I won't survive this test." I tried to offer reassurance, but nothing came past the lump in my throat. Instead, I gave her a big hug. Before I could think of something to say in reassurance, transport came to take her downstairs.
Two days later, I returned from my day off and didn't see her name on my patient list. As I was puzzling things out, the nursing assistant that I was relieving came to give me a report.
When she gave me the first report, my stomach just dropped. My beloved patient had stroked and was life flighted over to our trauma hospital. I held things together until the report was finished, then I made a visit to the bathroom and cried my eyes out. When I returned to the floor five minutes later, I got funny looks from the staff, but nobody asked me, and I didn't volunteer any information.
A week later, I read her obituary in the paper, and I cried as I read it.
All I could remember was how she had told me she was afraid to go for the procedure, and how she felt she had another few years of life left to give. I also remembered how she loved bread from an Italian restaurant in town. I remembered that last hug, and those final words she said to me. "Kylee, I love you. You're going to be a wonderful nurse someday."
RIP Miss B. I love you too.