Thank you Shonda for yet again making me feel human. Amelia held her patient in the OR until she took her last breath. And afterwards she showed such raw and real emotions, it brought me to tears. Her emotions were so real to me because I have been her. So, thank you for taking me back to my roots. I have held my patients as they have taken their last breath. I remember charting in my patient’s room, as I played Pandora’s relaxation station all night until she closed her eyes for the last time.
While working in the ICU, I took care of hundreds of patients, but there was one who I will never forget. This patient and I formed a bond from the beginning. She didn’t like me at first as I was the one who placed a mask on her to help her breath, so in her mind, I wasn’t helping her, I was torturing her. As the weeks went on, her status declined, but we managed to keep her breathing. Over the next few weeks I started to see the uncertainty and fear in her eyes. I think she could communicate but was so depressed and miserable, she chose not to.
One night during her 12 a.m. assessment, we had a heart to heart about her wishes. She couldn’t talk but would squeeze my hand and that’s when I knew she understood. The next day I came in and her status had been changed to a Do Not Resuscitate. I can’t say for certain I had anything to do with this, but I would like to think I gave her the strength to open up to her daughter and let her know she was tired of fighting and was ready to go home.
My current job isn’t as heart-wrenching as the above. It’s actually about as stimulating as watching grass grow in the dead of summer, in a drought, but I’m stuck here until I finish grad school, so I must do all I can to make it as invigorating as possible. My only interactions with patients is through the phone, so I try to make each phone call as meaningful as possible. It’s hard to be engaging in these calls, but I have found the patient on the opposite end of the phone is scared as shit. I try to ease their worries by making the process as easy as possible. Can you imagine being told today you had cancer and then tomorrow I call with to schedule an appointment to talk with you about injecting chemo into your liver as palliative treatment. Oh and the very next day you’ll need to come back for us to place an IV in your chest for chemotherapy. Oh, your referring physician didn’t tell you were getting chemo?? Surprise!
Did that make any sense to you?? Did that move faster than you were ready for?? That’s my point. Most everyone I call has recently been hit with a huge bomb and are still processing everything, and then I call and hit them with another one. I can sense the uncertainty and fear of the unknown in their voices as soon as I say who I am and where I’m calling from. So, I make an effort to go above and beyond to assure they feel at ease with the procedure. Which resorts in me spending more time on the phone than my other coworkers, but It’s worth it.
My compassion for patients is evident regardless if I’m saving their lives in ICU or calling them for preprocedure instructions. I encourage you to find your place in this world. Being happy in your profession is so important as we spend the majority of our lives working.
Thanks Shonda for reminding me how blessed I am to love my profession even after all the shit I’ve had to deal with. HA! I encourage all my nursing loves to watch the most recent episode of Grey’s Anatomy titled Don’t Stop Me Know.
Learn to love your profession. And if you don’t, please, for yourself and the sake of the people around you, LEAVE. Do whatever you need to do to find your happiness because once you find it, I promise it will be worth it.