how do you study subjects that have triggers?


I'm supposed to be reading this week about the very disease I saw a close family member waste away and die a miserable death from, and I cannot crack that book. Our reading is broken up into systems, so at some point it was going to come up.

I know this won't be my area of nursing, and I know that I just need to read it and move on. I need some way to disassociate from it but I can't seem to manage that. :cry:


825 Posts

First of all, I'm sorry for your loss.

Second, you are going to have to pick up that book and read it. Try not to personalize it (I know, easier said than done). When I would read about diseases, I would focus on the disease process itself instead of how horrible it can be to people. For instance, if you get into the nitty gritty about TB or HIV, they are actually very interesting diseases in how they act. Cancer as well. Even though these diseases are horrible and do horrible things, the way they work is fascinating.

When I was studying pharmacology, I would picture how the disease worked and how the drug worked to destroy the disease. I don't know if this will work for you but this is how I keep from personalizing it to people.

justchill, BSN, RN

1 Article; 96 Posts

You just have to do it because one day you'll have a patient with the same disease as someone you knew. Part of being a nurse is setting aside your personal feeling and taking care of the other. I know it's hard.


1 Post

First of all, this is my first post, so if I mess up, apologies in advance.

I'm sorry you're facing this. It's hard. Very hard. I decided on nursing after having some serious medical problems with my daughter, who thankfully lived and is a happy healthy 12 yr old. That being said, reading about or learning about her condition sends me into an emotional flash back.

Here's what I do, keep in mind, I have no idea what disease we're talking about. Although you say this particular subject will never be your niche in nursing, it can be your "arsenal" to make sure it doesn't happen to another patient, or perhaps your involvement could mean earlier intervention, so you'll want to get to know that monster inside and out, upside and down.

For instance I became a lactation counselor after terrible treatment I received after my oldest daughter was born. I really needed to ensure that someone like me was saved. If only just once. I'm proud to say I've saved several dozen just like me, and although I'll never have treasured little memories of nursing my baby girl, I can make sure other women do.

So that's my :twocents: don't let it own you, it's your turn to own it. And to turn that knowledge into something more powerful than grief. I hope you find a way and I wish you luck.

classicdame, MSN, EdD

2 Articles; 7,255 Posts

Specializes in Hospital Education Coordinator.

make it less personal by drawing a concept map (look that term up if you are not familiar)

Also, consider why you are responding so strongly, because you will ALWAYS have patients who remind you of your own family, etc. and you cannot help them unless you are able to think deeper and not put your own feelings first. Is there a possibility you are subconsciously using the family member's experience as an excuse not to tackle this task? Could you have unresolved grief? I hope you find your answers and at peace with this.

Specializes in Emergency Dept. Trauma. Pediatrics. Has 6 years experience.

You just have to get through. After my brothers suicide in Jan. it was very hard for me to deal with suicide attempts and we see them a lot. He killed himself right after the holidays and his birthday, it happened right when the beginning of my last semester started. He is not the first family member I lost to suicide either. I sometimes would have to say I needed to go to the restroom and I would just have to take a few moments. Even today when I see a picture or someone talks about him I start crying because I am forced to realize he is really gone. Same with COPD patients which we see a lot. My dad has a genetic disease that he will most likely die from Resp. Arrest. he is moderate COPD already and he is 54. He gets weekly infusions. His sister who is younger just died from the same disease 3 weeks after my brothers death. So anytime I see a COPD patient it's like I am looking at my fathers future. I don't have any tips for how I deal with it, I just do. But some could probably say I don't deal with it. I only got to see my brother a few times a year for the past few years because he was a marine and when he got out he lived in a different state. So to me it's not like he is really gone. My sister sent me a scanned picture of his Senior page from his HS year book tonight and I just started losing it crying. So you just never know how you will handle the triggers. They say it gets easier in time. It's been almost 5 months since I lost my brother and it hasn't gotten any easier.

Very sorry for your loss.

Specializes in Addiction, Psych, Geri, Hospice, MedSurg. Has 18 years experience.

A person is not defined by their diagnosis. I came up with that and tell myself that almost every day, because I've been in your position, many times, in 12 years.

So, when you read about a disease or a diagnosis - do NOT put a face on it. When a person has a disease or diagnosis, do not put that face on them. Allow them to live without the constraints of that disease.

As for me, I've been in your situation, in more than one way. My father passed away from melanoma; I took care of him the last 6 months of his life (and was honored to do so)...

...and me. I have MS. Now, no one knew that [in my class] until I gave a presentation about the disease. I asked what was brought to mind when they heard the Dx of MS. I heard, "disabled, wheelchair, non-ambulatory, pain, dependent." Words like that. I went through my presentation to EDUCATE about the disease... then I said, I am a face of MS... for over 11 years. You would not believe the looks I received (I live a very normal life, and unless I am in active relapse - you would never know I have MS).

A disease is not personal. I am not MS. MS is not me. I am first a mother, wife, sister, aunt, daughter, nurse, student............ MS isn't even in the top 20 of what I am.

Do not allow this person's (whom you love) legacy be the face of this disease... Allow their life to be their legacy.

I'm sorry for your loss... You are going to experience a lot of diseases in your career... even if you think it "won't be my area of nursing," you will be surprised at what you encounter in any part of nursing.

Good luck. Take a bit of time. Think about this person you love, think about their life, remember them with wonderful, warm, loving thoughts - not the disease.

THEN open your book and read about this disease. Learn, so that if anyone is in your position, you can not only teach them, you can sympathize with them.


Specializes in Addiction, Psych, Geri, Hospice, MedSurg. Has 18 years experience.

:hug: ~Mi Vida Loca~RN