I spent a lot of time coming up with interventions that I felt could really help our almost-a-century-old patient. As we pass room 221, I realize that there is a different patient there. Where's our group patient? Oh no. At that moment I know exactly where she is.
She had been on my mind all week, and not just because my homework revolved around her medical history. After only three weeks in this facility, I have really grown attached to the patient in room 221.
Even though I don't speak or understand a word of Spanish - the primary language of the patient - I really felt like we were able to communicate. She wasn't even able to speak Spanish at this point; her sole means of communication was through moaning/yelling.
Even with this barrier, I was starting to recognize certain nonverbal signs: the small raise of her eyebrows, the opening or closing of her mouth, the slight grasping gesture her hands would make. I tried learning a couple words of Spanish so that when I was doing a physical assessment, I could at least try to let her know what I was going to be doing.
The few times she opened her eyes - though just a tiny slit - were so exciting!
We were communicating!
The third day of our clinical had me extremely worried about this patient. We went in to take her vital signs. It didn't take long to realize that she wasn't doing so well. Her respirations were around 35/min and she felt very warm. She was also coughing and choking on thick, greenish sputum. I wished I could sit there for the full 6 hours and hold her hand. I hoped her nurse would take these signs seriously and call the doctor and the patient's family.
On that 4th day of clinical, it was not surprising to learn that she had passed away. I know that death is inevitable, especially at such an advanced age. And while I was disappointed that I couldn't list my expected outcome as having been met, I was really just sad that I wouldn't get to care for this patient again. I sometimes wonder if I am too sensitive to be getting into nursing. I once thought that's what this profession was all about - caring. I see health care professionals all around me who don't even seem to know the meaning of the word. Can I become an expertly skilled nurse and still be a sensitive, caring woman who is truly concerned for the patients she cares for? It is more than just completing the interventions and meeting the expected outcome, right? It should be about making a difference in that patient's life and letting your life be touched by them as well.