I've only been a nurse for a few months now, but working in a CVICU, I've been in some very somber situations. I knew I would be experiencing this as a critical care nurse, so it's not like it has come as a shock to me, but it doesn't make it any easier. Twice this week, I've had to tell the families of patients that their loved one has suffered an anoxic brain injury and has an extremely slim chance of ever recovering. Did the neurologist tell them that? Yes, but you know families always ask the nurse who is there for 12 hours what they think. At least, that's been my experience.
It's somehow easier to tell someone that their loved one has died rather than, as we stand on either side of the patient, say that they will never be able to breathe again on their own, or feed themselves, or know what's going on, while they look on at the patient's baby-doll eyes. It's even more heart-wrenching to hear family discuss amongst themselves how they can't believe it's happening, how it isn't fair, how there might still be hope.
Again, I knew I would be faced with these situations as a nurse, especially in the ICU, but nothing can prepare you for how emotionally taxing it is. I'm pretty good at separating work and my emotions, but even the most detached personalities are affected by the despair that some families feel at their most desperate times. Compounded by that is the fact that as a new nurse, I'm not yet jaded or hardened. It doesn't keep me up at night, but it makes one's heart heavy.
Thanks for reading what probably should have been a blog post.