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venting... this is long...

i'm in need of venting. i am a part time palliative care/oncology nurse and part time long term care nurse. one of my good friends is a coworker of mine. she's a great person. a hard worker, smart, compassionate etc.... we go out for lunch. we used to drive out to my indian reserve for a day and look at craft stuff. other times we just watch movies at her house. she works in long term care with me.

last week she was admitted to the palliative care/ oncology unit with lung ca. i'm glad she's been diagnosed because i've been a little suspicous (the last three months) and strongly encouraged her to seek diagnostic testing. i tried not to think about it. i go and visit her at the hospital, when i'm not working. her prognosis isn't great but she's trying to be optimistic. she starts her chemo treatments today.

for professional reasons, i do not look at her chart. all the information i know is from the conversations i have with her. i give her information about her condition from what i know as a nurse. all i want to do is visit her and be her friend. she's very tired and very scared. she's also very sick.

i know her prognosis isn't a good one. that scares me. it's so hard not to think about it. when i'm working at the hospital, it's hard to concentrate because she is there. when her bell goes off, i want to run and answer it and be a good nurse to her but professionally, i can't. but i just stand there and stare and wonder "what's she feeling right now? what can be done for her?" i know she's suffering. i've been working like a mad-man. i can't sit still and i do everything in over-drive. i want to stop thinking about her situation but the only way i can do it is by keeping myself super-busy when i'm there.

when i'm at my long term care job, i'm the same. she's supposed to be working with me, but i'm now working with a replacment. a lot of the residents and coworkers are asking about her. i can't give them a lot of information. all i can do is pretend i don't know and say "yeah! where is that girl??" meanwhile, i'm screaming inside. i can aknowledge to them that she is not there. i am very aware that the news at the long term care home has spread like wild-fire. the staff is very upset and need a lot of support. things have gotten very dramatic. but i maintain to them that we still have a job to do and it's important for the residents that the job gets done. i feel like a heart-less supervisor by being harsh like that. but i sympathise with them. i'm sad about it too. but they don't know that. i leave both jobs totally exhausted.

and of course,"murphy's law" prevents me from ever catching a break, what can go wrong will go wrong on my shift. i've had to work short-staffed at the hospital for the last two shifts, with er wanting to admit patients and other floors wanting to transfer patients (yes on the night shift too). the last night at long term care, the fire alarm went off. no fire. but they could not shut off the alarm, so we were on "silent alarm" protocol for rest of the night. that meant doing hourly building rounds to make sure there is no fire. not to mention the fire department crew hitting on me when i'm trying to herd the fire department out the front door when it's all over.

i'm very sad. i'm scared for my friend. i want her to aggressivly whip this cancer out of her with chemo. but they said she doesn't have long. so, i want her to be comfortable. i want to take away her and her hubby's fears. i want more time to spend with her. i also wish this whole situation would go away. it' too real. during the fire alarm the other night, i was seriously wondering if i could just go into denial and shut down. i wanted to curl up in the fetal position and deny anything was happening. but realistically, i couldn't and just realized it wont go away. i had to just experience it and do what i'm supposed to do. it's so hard to smile when i have such concern and empathy for my best friend but for the sake of my patients and residents, i provide the best care i can with a smile on my face. for my coworkers, i try and remain calm and strong and in control so they can provide the best care possible. but it's so dam hard!!!! my husbands uncle died last week and he's greiving so i have to remain strong for him.

i feel so alone and weak. right now, all i can think about is myself. i don't know how i can maintain my composure. i want to cry. i'm worried, i don't have much time left with my friend. i feel selfish because i know that this time, she should be with her family and they should be spending "quality" time with her. but, i want to go out for lunch and drive and look at crafts with her. but really, i just want all this to go away. i want my friend back. good and healthy and happy.

I am so sorry you and your friend are going through this. First, what happens to your friend will be up to God, not you. Turn over your control to Him. Then, when you're with her, just be her friend. Don't try to be her nurse. This will be one of the hardest things you've ever done: shoving your experience aside and just being there for her.

As for the LTC staff, ask your friend what she wants you to tell them. They care about her too and it's even scarier for them in some ways because they have no idea what's happening to her. If she gives her permission for you to share some basic information, like her diagnosis and how she's doing now, they would probably like to support her too.

As an onc nurse you will know about support groups for the families of onc pts. These groups are not limited to just family. Good friends can go too.


Specializes in er/icu/neuro/trauma/pacu.

I am so sorry for your sadness and frustration. This forum is here for you.Whenever you need to vent or just cry, this group is here. I wish I could give you a hug, it is soooo very hard to watch a friend suffer. You are greiving and need to talk about your feelings, I know your husband has suffered a loss, this makes it harder but talk with him as well, find a support network or a group for cancer families-they include friends.

As far as co-workers and residents at the LTC, as a friend and supervisor you can share info about your friend, ask her what to tell them. I am sure just saying she is very sick and you are unsure when she will be back would acceptable, and a cheery note from staff would surely be good for your friend, if she doesn't want visitors, you could take care packages from the LTC to her, think of the smiles and inside jokes you could share going thru some of them. You may not get to go crafting or out to lunch, but you can spend time with her, she needs you.

Hang in there, but give yourself permission to cry and be angry for your friend and for yourself.

I am sorry for the pain you are feeling and I hope and pray at least one of my friends loves me as much as you love your friend! The way you describe your friendship is beautiful and the fact that you cherish he so much is very evident throughout your posting. She is blessed to have someone love her like that!

I don't think anything I can say would make you feel better, that will take time and a lot of tears I am sure.

I will say prayers for the both of you and hope soon she can join you for some more days of rides and shopping.

Jules A, MSN

Specializes in Family Nurse Practitioner.

Sadly I don't have any sage advice to offer but I'm sending good vibes your way. Hugs, Jules

i don't have much time left with my friend. i feel selfish because i know that this time, she should be with her family and they should be spending "quality" time with her. but, i want to go out for lunch and drive and look at crafts with her.

you are as much a part of her family as her blood relatives. you are her extended family. if you want to go out with her and do lunch and look at crafts...see if this is an option and do it. things like this are what a person needs to help them either win the battle or accept peacefully the reality of the situation. yes she is dying but right now she is still alive and she is still your friend and she needs the friendship. there will be time for you to greive after rioght now it is time to still be alive with her and not mourn what has not yet happened.

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