Wednesday, 22 September 2010


It's been an emotionally draining week.

I have had many many lovely, kind, interesting and funny patients on my assignment recently.  These people are a joy to look after.

And it's amazing to me that they can be so sweet and lovely when they are so sick.  I would be a miserable bitch and then some.

Many of them are way too young to be getting these shit diagnosis and prognosis.  They are young with young children. It is unbearable.  We are talking 30s, 40s and 50s.

I didn't want to be there when the consultant told Mr. and Mrs. Doe that John has cancer everywhere.  The look  of agony and fear on their faces is keeping me awake at night.

Another young patient who likes to prank the Nurses (in a nice way) and has me laughing so hard that I cry is also very very sick.  He suddenly deteriorated on a recent shift of mine.  I was shaking in my boots, thought we were going to lose him then and there.  Thank god my other patients were okay and I was able to stay with him at all times. The team really pulled together well.  The junior doctor was brilliant and so was her senior.  The xray folks and ITU nurse were on the scene right away and very competent. The ICU ward that I rushed this  patient to was fabulous.  I was proud to work in that place after seeing how well the team functioned.  I am surprised that ITU  accepted him but they did.

 I think they saved his life that night even if it only extends his life for a few more days.  But facts are facts and the truth is that this person will not be with is much longer no matter what we do.   He didn't want me to call his partner in because "she'll worry too much and the little ones are in bed and can't be left alone".  He said he will see her during visiting.  I am afraid that he won't be there for the next visiting hours.  But I couldn't tell him that. It isn't my place.  He wouldn't let me call his partner.  He was adamant. The medical team were on their way in to speak to him at that point and were going to be very very direct and they are going to speak to the partner. I think he knows the score anyway but is in denial.

Instead of being pleased at myself and the team for a job well done I feel like crap with a knot in my stomach.

The icing on the cake was my dying elderly patient. This patient has  sprightly elderly parents. The parents had asked that we ring anytime so that they could be with their 70 year old child when he dies. One morning it became very obvious that this was going to be it and I phone them to come in straight away.  The patient died before the family made it back to the hospital.  The arrived on the ward and I didn't want them to go into the side room and find the corpse so I asked them to come with me into the family room first.  When I asked them into the family room they pretty much realised that he had gone and started grabbing onto each other.. When I sat them down and told them that he had indeed passed and that I was so very sorry the mother started screaming and tearing her hair out.  I don't care how old you are or how old your child is......losing your baby is the worst thing in the world.

Later on we received  lovely letter from this family thanking us for our kindness and for caring for this patient so well.  Still feel like complete  shit.

* details have been changed to maintain confidentiality.


Anonymous said...

I wish there was something I could say to you Anne, but from being in similar situations I know there isn't. Sending you big hugs, though.

Anonymous said...

I left that on a bit of a low note so thought I'd pop back. Though it may not feel like it, you have made a great impact on these peoples lives, and that is something to be really proud of.

Fireman said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

Sending hugs too. Anne You were in the right place at the right time for these patients and have surely made their unbearable loss a smidgeon easier. It is HARD but it is at the heart of nursing + medicine too and why we stay and keep going. Big hug again

Anonymous said...

forgot to add their families. When they replay the scenes over and over in their heads as they most surely will for every. EVERYTHING word, deed, done or uttered will indeed matter. Another hug

Anonymous said...

Touching, moving and resonant.

Those relatives will often think of you and your colleagues. I know that those stars who looked after my late mother and late father-in-law, when they were in hospital, come to my mind often.

Good karma.


uknurse said...

Big hug to You Anne!xx

Anonymous said...

"Still feel like complete shit."

So you should for writing this stuff - I don't believe a word of it.

uknurse said...

Anonymous @ 02:47, go and get a job or something.

Anonymous said...

"I was proud to work in that place after seeing how well the team functioned."

Seriously? Is this the same institution that you've been criticising in almost every post? What a conversion!

Nurse Anne said...

anonymous 02:47

So you think that no one ever dies in hospital?

I whinge often about the short staffing on my ward. But that doesn't mean that the icu nurses, the docs etc are not great in an emergency. Sometimes they all come together very well.

Agree that you need to get a job.

Hypercryptical said...

Sad, but beautiful post Anne.

Anna G

uknurse said...

"Seriously? Is this the same institution that you've been criticising in almost every post? What a conversion!"

It IS the INSTITUTION that Anne critisises, not the TEAM.

If you are going to read the blog, then read it properly. Better still, as you are clearly unable to relate in any way, don't read at all!

Anonymous said...

Breaking bad news is always difficult for those who care. But it is because you find it difficult that you do it well.

Anyone who can break news to a young mother that they are dying, and then never think of it again is the sort of psychopath who should never be allowed near a patient.

Take care, sometimes it is a good job.


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Anonymous said...

You can't always save them but you can help them.

I worked in onco for a while. Thanks for the beautiful post.

Anonymous said...

uknurse: Anne wrote "I was proud to work in that place after seeing how well the team functioned." Which means, I think, that she was proud to work in her hospital i.e. her institution, i.e "that place". A hospital is no more than the people who work in it and in the case of Anne's hospital, week after week she has shown that the management is poor, doctors are arrogant, nursing care is disorganised and largely given by untrained, couldn't-care-less workers while the trained nurses are run ragged and that the concept of teamwork hardly exists at all. I was merely surprised that all this was replaced by pride when one part of this hideous, dysfunctional shambles worked as it was supposed to.

Nurse Anne said...

On the rare occasion that things are not so fragmented we do well. ITU is still very well resourced and when they have an extra member of staff to come to the ward it is a huge help.

Just for one brief moment I was proud of how well we did. I think saying "that place" gave the wrong idea. I should have said "the team".

The place is still an underfunded poorly managed hellhole. But there are excellent well trained professional staff around here and there.

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