For those of you who don’t know, I’m a nurse.
I graduated nursing school when I was pregnant with my youngest and have worked on call the past three years.
Last week I worked a night shift, and one of my patients who had been there for rehabilitation had apparently had a decline and his doctor was going to discuss placing him on hospice with him and his family at a doctors appointment the next day.
I was told in report he had become increasingly lethargic that day.
So I went in to introduce myself and assess him.
I was concerned because he wasn’t voiding, so I sat with him and encouraged fluids. His vitals were concerning a little, because his blood pressure was low and so was his oxygen, 88% on 5 Liters.
But he was alert, and denied any pain or discomfort.
He complied with what I told him, was verbalizing with me, and by about 2am I was thinking that he was going to be okay through the night. Every sign showed that he was as ‘stable’ as he was going to be.
I went in there once again to check on him and encourage his fluid intake.
I told him to try and get some rest and to not forget to call me with his call light if he needed anything, and that I would be back to check on him again later. He smiled a little and said “Okay.”
I went back to work, making rounds on the other patients.
I peeked my head in the room at 3:15.
Panic set in.
I knew he was gone, but I didn’t want to believe it.
I raced to the nurses station to grab my stethoscope and call his daughter.
I woke her up and told her to come in as quick as she could; her dad was about to go.
I ran back to confirm. No audible heart beat. No palpable pulse. I pronounced him dead at 3:25am.
I quickly called his daughter back.
My voice was shaking, as I told her I was so sorry, but she was too late. He had already died.
She burst into tears. She asked me what to do. I told her everything was completely up to her, though I encouraged her to come in still if she wanted to. She did.
Her husband drove her in and they paid their last respects to her father; the man I had only met 5 hours ago. She asked me about the events leading up to his death, and she seemed comforted with the fact that it happened so quickly, and that he was not in pain. She thanked me and the rest of the staff, was so happy with his care.
She hugged me.
I made arrangements with the funeral home to pick up his body, and at 5:15 am I helped them bag it up and load it onto the stretcher.
I met this man five hours ago.
Having worked in the health care field for 10 years, dealing with people passing away is nothing new. I have pronounced people before.
But I have never had to make the call to next of kin.
It never happened so sudden, albeit expected.
I was the last person he ever spoke too. I don’t know what made this time so much more different. Why I can’t get his image out of my head. But it is. Perhaps telling the story will give me a little closure.
I’ve said it before on here, and I’ll say it again. Life if finite. Live it. Don’t let it pass you by. <3
Melissa, I admire what you do. I'm sure he was glad you were looking out for him. Take caret
I too am glad you were there for that man and all of your patients. Thank you for what you do!
Another reminder of what an important and valuable profession you are in. Congrats to you.
Wow! Tears are rolling down my face. I wish I could be a nurse. My stomach nor my brain will allow me to do so I don't think! 🙂
I worked in hospice and pastoral care – and all I can do is pass on many hugs – Have a God-filled week 🙂
Good Afternoon Melissa, Thank you for sharing this story with us. Can I offer you a little comfort by telling you my story.
It was a normal day, I was at work in school, when my mum rang to say my father had collapsed and had been taken to hospital. I ran out of school to collect my mum and we rushed to the hospital, but dad had gone before we could reach him. We were heartbroken not to be able to say goodbye, but what I would say, is if someone, as kind as you, had been caring for him before he passed away, it would have been very comforting.
All I can say is thank you for such wonderful nurses as yourself.
Thanks everyone for the encouraging words….Daphne, I'm so sorry you were not able to say goodbye to your father, not having that last bit of closure is so difficult. Thank you for sharing your story. Its instances like this that really remind me of the powerful impact we have on one another, and also how we should always make sure our loved ones know how much we care about them every single day. <3
Melissa: I am connecting to you through the Meet & Greet Blog Hop. I am glad to connect because I'm thinking of becoming a nurse & I love Oregon. This is a well written piece & definitely touches the heart. Best, KCW
Thanks for this post. I'm glad you were there for him. He knew that someone cared and that is the most important thing. Blessings, Tina
Wow, this is powerful. I'm so glad that there are nurses out there like you who are compassionate and still affected by the passing of someone's loved one. I am glad that this man had the chance to meet you!
Sending you sunshine,
I cannot even imagine having to call his daughter and tell her that news. I'm sure you were filled with compassion and empathy, she surely knew that!