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Wishing we all felt understood

by brad4834 brad4834 (New) New

Here's a little something I wrote today following the loss of a patient near and dear to my heart. Feel free to comment and share.

To my family and friends,

I wish you understood what my average day at work was like. I wish I could film my every step for weeks on end but that wouldn't even give you the half of it. I can't shove a camera in my brain to relay my thoughts and emotions, my strengths and weaknesses, or my frequent "close call" mental breakdowns.

I wish you understood what it was like to work 12 hours a day on your feet, without peeing, without eating. Now knowing if you're going to save a life that day or take a trip to the morgue.

I wish you understood what it feels like to have ribs break beneath your hands, or frantically try to draw up life saving medications from a crash cart with 6 very poorly labeled drawers. Medications that you have seconds to administer to keep a patient alive.

I wish you understood what it was like to watch a baby recover slowly from heart surgery. Take out each IV and chest tube day by day, until finally you're the one that lets the mother hold her baby for the first time.

I wish you could see the smile on her face.

I wish you understood what it was like to pick up the phone and call a mother to tell her that her child isn't going to make it another hour. And to find a way to word it so you don't send her to sheer panic.

I wish you understood what it was like to fight with physicians in order to fight for your patient.

I wish you understood the feeling of helplessness when you couldn't save them. The feeling of rolling them into a bag, tying a tag to their toe and wheeling them downstairs.

I wish you could see the morgue.

I wish you understood what it feels like driving to work not knowing what will happen that day. How many IVs you will string. How many life savings devices you will help insert. How many breathing tubes will be placed. How many traumas will be called.

I wish you understood the feeling when a parent collapses on you because you just saved their child's life. Your scrubs soaking wet from the tears they shed.

I wish you could see what it is like to watch a parent's world fall apart when we did everything we could. But it just wasn't enough. The anger, sadness, rage, despair-all on their face at one time.

I wish you understood the comradery between other nurses and co-workers. The ones that help you get through your day. Through every emotion, through the fourth discharge and admission.

I wish you understood the drive home. The decompressing. The tears. Punching the wheel. The "what if." The "maybe if I.."

If you could understand the half of this. Then maybe you could understand me.


A Pediatric Intensive Care Nurse

Edited by Joe V

I guess if they could understand, you wouldn't be the incredibly rare lioness that you are.

You have one tough job. Tough doesn't really cover it actually.

Esme12, ASN, BSN, RN

Specializes in Critical Care, ED, Cath lab, CTPAC,Trauma. Has 41 years experience.

((HUGS)) Thank you for sharing!

Beautifully written. I work adult ICU and that's hard enough...I cannot imagine working with sick or injured innocent babies and children :unsure: I'm not sure I could handle the emotions involved.

I agree that you have one tough job. Have you thought about sharing this piece with your loved ones, to give them a glimpse into just what it is you experience everyday? I can relate that although my family and friends know what my "job" is, they often don't understand the emotional turmoil involved and it can feel lonely when it seems that no one can truly relate.

May be an eye opener for them.

Here.I.Stand, BSN, RN

Specializes in SICU, trauma, neuro. Has 16 years experience.

Wow...I'm in tears right now. I'm with ICURN3020... A few months ago we lost a young woman. I was her nurse when the surgeons saw that their efforts were futile. If I live to be 100, I will never forget her mother's wails, calling her other daughter and saying through her sobs "she's dying," and then after a pause, "sweetie, there's nothing they CAN do." Then later, taking her family to the PICU so they could be with her children, and then taking my patient to the morgue.

Being the one to hold everyone together when the dr. has given bad news and then left the room, while sometimes it's all you can do to hold yourself together.

Hugs!! Thank you for sharing.


Has 25 years experience.

Beautiful. Thank you. Very grateful for the tears.