I don't take this lightly by any means, it partly scares me to death and partly excites me to no end, 'cause I know that with time, lots of time, that I will get more comfortable. Our instructors have been sharing stories from their intensive care unit days (where we'll be in a couple of weeks) where they advocated for patients and where they floundered, and sadly where many patients slipped from life to death, leaving many ethical dilemmas for the nurses to face in dealing with the families and their own feelings about end of life decisions. Death is inevitable at some point (I've already done compressions once in the back of an ambulance, and observed the dance of a full code in the ED when a patient was brought in in full arrest. When all medical interventions were tried, and tried with diligence, but failed due to the eternal clock that had struck for the last time, I was faced with the passing of a life, and watched and listened as families came in pleading, crying, and working through necessary stages of grief that we all go through. It's hard not to cry, but I kinda feel like the good nurses will usually always get choked up. I don't want to ever loose that.
I feel that this will be a ministry of sorts for me. I'm praying continually for God's wisdom in decision making and the nudging in the right direction toward excellent patient care. Telling you this is reminding me of one of my first life changing moments in nursing school...
In the beginning of the LVN program, I had just learned in class how to make a bed (similar to this video) with fresh linens while the patient was still in it (in this case, the patient was immobile and confined to the bed). As we watched the verrrry long and detailed video, I thought to myself- "this is NOT the area of care I ever want to be in", thinking I'd be much better suited for the fast paced ED or OR.
This is me last semester in the OR- love that place!
Days later on our trip to the hospital for clinicals, I was assigned to Mrs. B* who had recently come in for an extremely bad stomach ache with vomiting x 3 days and no stool. Dr.s took scans of her chest and abdomen and found that she was severely impacted with stool due to a blockage in her colon (cancer)- which had subsequently metastasized with lesions now on her lungs and liver. To her, one day she had a stomach ache and the next she was covered with cancer. By the time I was assigned to her, she had been in the hospital for two days undergoing tests and was unable to stand anymore due to weakness and a drop in blood pressure when she got up.
I came in, introduced myself, and chit chatted with her for a bit. I could tell she didn't look like she normally would, sweaty and hair all crazy, so I offered her a toothbrush and a comb. Then I told her that instead of a warm bed bath that I had some cool wipies that I could use to freshen her up. She shared with me the worries of her mind, fears about her diagnosis, and how in her life, she had lived a decent life, but had messed some things up. She worked hard to fix them and live right. All the while, I just gave her my ears and attention. I then offered to change her sheets. She told me she couldn't get up, and I said, "AH HA! I just learned how to make an occupied bed" (the very skill I despised just days before!!! I was so grateful to have seen the video now). She continued to talk and was very patient with me trying out this new skill. At the end of this care, she very warmly thanked me for taking such good care of her, and what a difference I had made in her life, especially during a time like this. My heart glowed!!!
This is why I'm becoming a nurse.
Thanks for reading along. I know this isn't my typical kind of post