Wednesday, April 29, 2009

the grim reaper

Yesterday I was taking care of a healthy looking 58-year-old man just diagnosed with terminal lung cancer. Supposedly, the service had already told his wife about this. She asked me, suddenly, how many stages to cancer are there? Without thinking, I said "four". She about collapsed into my arms. I held her while she sobbed into my shirt. I had no idea what to say, what to do. I tried my best. She went over to him and hugged him and said she loved him so much. I had to get out of there. Later, the team came in and told her she should take him home, there's nothing more to be done. I had to step out of the room lest I burst into tears, too.

See, I work on a floor where we usually send people home, healthier than they were before. I haven't built up a very thick skin for this kind of stuff.

The charge nurse bought me a cookie. Cookies do help.

6 comments:

12 weeks at a time said...

Wow, what a hard day. I have never had to deal with that kind of thing, but I know I eventually will. So sad, I could never do oncology:(

LivingDeadNurse said...

those days can be hard...even worse when the family ask how much longer do you think i have with my mom? working in LTC you get your thick skin..or so they say...cause i know a few cases that seem to seep thru the pores

Sylvia said...

Hi New RN! I like your blog - you write with compassion and honesty. I have a question, though--most nurse blogs state somewhere that they've altered patient details to protect privacy, per HIPAA regs. I can't find such a statement on your blog. Do you have that policy? (I apologise for commenting to ask this question -- I couldn't find a direct e-mail for you.)

Thanks very much.
Sylvia

New RN said...

I don't need to have a statement like that, because I don't intend on putting up any names, real or fake.

LivingDeadNurse said...

hey love the site..if your put a follower gadget up more people will follow your blog..just a thought...

hey sylvia...are you saying that you have to have that statement up?

Sylvia said...

I don't know whether there's a legal requirement for such a statement. I just think it's a good idea to have one. It lets readers know right up front that patients' privacy is being protected, and nobody has to wonder.

(I'm an editor at the American Journal of Nursing, where we think about such things a lot, you see . . .)