About a month ago, I was caring for a fun, bright 7 year old little girl with brain cancer during my pediatric rotation. It was kind of slow that day, so I spent the afternoon in her room playing games with her. I felt like we really connected and I fell in love with her. I knew she was really sick, but she didn't act like it. She was so happy and spunky. Well, this semester, I'm on a pediatric oncology unit and she was there yesterday. The cancer has completely taken over her. She can't talk, can hardly make eye contact, can't move her body with the exception of lifting her hands, and she's having seizures. Her mother finally agreed to hospice care, because there is nothing more that can be done. The cancer is inoperable and the chemo isn't working.
After I found out she was on the floor, I paid her a visit. I talked to her for a little bit (without response). And when I left her room, I stepped into the nurse's break room and lost it. I cried my eyes out. The nurses and my instructor were very nice about it, telling me that it's okay to cry. I felt a little silly, but at the same time, I wasn't crying because I had a bad day or was pms-ing. I was crying because a 7 year old child is dying. Anyway, after I got home, I cried some more. I can't stop thinking about her. I feel like I'm having a little trouble dealing with this. Not only is this my first patient that I've seen progress to this point, but it happens to be a child.
I don't doubt for a second that I want to be a nurse, but this is the aspect of nursing that I didn't really think about. I knew people would die, but I guess I just didn't think it would affect me like it has. I think it would be completely different if it was an 85 year old dying from a brain tumor. At least then I'd know that they lived a full life.
Has anyone gone through this with a patient? How do you deal with it? Does it get any easier?