I will post some good news in my next post, but want to talk about something that has me feeling very sad today.
A little over a year ago, the 21 year-old daughter of one of my nurse coworkers was diagnosed with Lymphoma (the specialty of the unit I work on). She has a 4 year-old son who the cutest, smartest little boy you'll ever meet. We've all been taking care of this girl (and her mom) off and on for the past year. Last week she was admitted to our unit more sick than ever before. I took care of her each day and held her mom's hand while we made plans for how to handle her end of life care. I have cried all day at work for 3 days straight. My other patients were worried about me while I fell apart caring for this family. This is the daughter of my friend and we have all grown so attached for the past year.
Friday was so hard. The patient was so weak but insisted on getting up to the commode when she needed to use the bathroom. During one of the times she was up, her mom asked her if she really understood what was happening. She stated very simply, "Yes, I'm going to die." Her mom hugged her from behind and while crying told her how much she loved her and would miss her. The patient responded, "I love you too, Mom." I cried so much I was having a hard time getting her cleaned up and back to bed. I won't put the details of her little boy laying in bed with her, but you can imagine. Listening to his grandmother explain to him that she will go live with Jesus, just like his dog Shadow did, hurts in ways I can't explain.
She was to go home with hospice care yesterday but died on our unit before she could be moved. I had dropped the boys of at 5:30 to ride the bus to the school science contest and was getting ready to head to the hospital to say my goodbye when her nurse called me. I have never been so attached to one of my patients and family and have never cried so much over the death of someone I've cared for as a nurse.
I think I feel that as nurses we often feel immune to the illnesses suffered by our patients because we are the caregivers. This has burst my "immunity" bubble and scares me that if this could happen to my friend, a nurse herself, that it could happen to me or my boys as well.
This only reinforces my belief that we should spend every possible moment with our kids because you never know how long we have together. So to those people who make fun of me for going on every field trip, sitting with my kids and their friends at the movies and working a job that gets me up at 4:00 a.m. so that I can be home when my boys get home from school - I give you something to think about.
My next post will be upbeat ...