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Working as a nurse in the ICU, I cared for many patients who are burned into my mind and heart forever.
I would like to share with you the stories of two patients that I will remember forever and whom shaped my life and nursing career forever.
A Mom With Cancer
One of those patients was a young mom, in her early 40s with children in their early teens, who had suffered from cancer that had metastasized to her brain.
She was incredibly sick, and this cancer was extremely advanced.
One night as I cared for her, she was feeling exceptionally sick.
Just a couple hours into the shift, I was preparing her for bed. Her family stepped out and went home for the night. I could see that this night she was very upset - more so than other nights.
She was low on energy, she was sad, she looked weaker than normal.
Within moments of her family leaving for the night, she passed away quietly.
I called the husband and he came back up with their teenage sons to see their wife and mother one last time.
I will never forget sitting there with the teenage sons.
I sat there with them in their grief. Listened to them and hugged them as they mourned the loss. We all cried while they shared memories. While grieving, they were comforted that her pain had finally ended.
It now became my job as the nurse to prepare the body. I cleaned her, removed all IV lines and tubes, and did my best to provide them a more comforting experience as they said their final goodbyes.
Reflecting on this experience has given me a new insight on family, children, and loved ones.
How special and fleeting these moments we have with our loved ones truly are.
While we are medical professionals and our job is to provide and support the medical and nursing care plans, we are NURSES.
The art of nursing allows us to be human, to comfort, to care, and to support our patients and their loved ones.
A Son Who Had A Stroke
I once cared for a young man who had suffered a very large and fatal ischemic stroke.
When I arrived for my shift the entire family was there in his room including his mom, a little lady maybe 4’6" in her 60s.
The offgoing nurse told me the plan was to withdraw care. This essentially means turning off all meds, lines, fluids, and machines.
I began coordinating care with all the different providers, from the chaplain to the physician, to the other nurses to the coroner.
Within just a few minutes, he passed away. My focus turned to the family and friends who had gathered to say 'goodbye' . . . ensuring that they understood what was going to happen, giving them space to grieve, and providing what comfort I could.
As everyone began to leave, his mom was the last person in the room. I went out into the hall and shut the door to allow her a moment alone with her son.
As I stood outside the room, a thought came into my mind . . . when she left, she would be leaving her son in my hands. She was entrusting me with the most valuable thing in her life.
That was a really humbling thought for me both as a nurse and as a father.
After several minutes, the door opened, she walked right up to me and wrapped her arms tightly around me and said:
"Jon, thank you. I love you. I will never forget you."
I hugged her tightly. I don't remember what I said or if I said anything because my mind was consumed with another thought.
I realized at that moment that she wasn't talking about me specifically, but about ALL NURSES and the care that we lovingly provided to her son.
At that moment I represented ALL nurses. I represented YOU and the care you will one day provide to patients.
People NEVER forget their nurses. The rest of their hospital stay will be a blur, but their NURSES will be in their minds forever.
It's okay to CARE as a nurse. We went into this profession because we want to ease human suffering.
We need more nurses who CARE. Thank you for choosing this profession. I started NURSING.com to reduce your stress in nursing school, so you can focus on the patients.