Tuesday, December 12, 2006

My first breakdown as a nurse.......

This past weekend has been difficult for me.

For anyone who is just tuning in, I am a registered nurse in a rural hospital. I am a recently single mom again, to 4 children. I work 12 hour swing shifts, and am in a state of anxiety and exhaustion a lot of the time. Friday morning was no exception to this rule.

I went in to work on Friday morning. The girls (my co-workers) were talking about events that had happened in the community the day before. Neither incident happening in our own hospital, but to people in our community. There had been a bad accident where a pregnant woman was killed 2 days before her wedding, while her fiance was travelling in the vehicle behind her. The other involving a 2 1/2 yr old baby, who was sleeping with its mother. The mother woke to find the baby dead beside her in the bed. There are speculations about what happened, the baby had been ill at birth for several weeks, but my heart just ached for these people. So much death, so close to Christmas. It was really a shock. But I am a tough nurse and a tough person, things like this, while they make me reflect on my own mortality, do not really affect me in any other way.

The morning had been uneventful. I had a meeting for one of the committees I am on, and that was fine. After lunch we had a staff meeting planned. When I came back from lunch, one of my co-workers said that there was someone there to see me. I go to the nursing station to find my ex sitting there. He and I have been having problems probably since shortly after we got together, but more intense difficulties in the last year, until I told him not to come home again about 8 weeks ago. This man is the father of my youngest son, Tuc. He and I never married. But, he is still my ex for all intents and purposes. I ask him to come to the quiet room, so I can shut the door and tell him off in private. How inappropriate to show up at my work, bringing me gifts.....we are not a couple anymore. He wanted to talk about getting back together.......I want nothing more to do with this relationship. I spent way too much time trying to convince him that it was truly over. I did go to my staff meeting, but my head was not in the game. I kept wondering what the hell this man was wanting.

The meeting ended, he was still sitting in the quiet room. Two of the other nurses had gone to pass out ice and do vitals in the afternoon. The emergency bell rang from one of the rooms. I rush in there to find a relatively young man lying on the floor, a pool of blood under his head. No pulse, no breathing. The other RN comes in, we are doing CPR, waiting for the dr to come.....what seemed like forever, probably just a few minutes. He is intubated, we are still doing CPR, there is no rhythm on the monitor. We are giving him drugs. I am bagging him, my co-workers pumping his chest. The dr calls the time of death.........then the man's cell phone rings........the room falls silent. We know it must be his wife. No one answers the phone. I take the bagger off of him, lean my head against the wall. I am overcome, I cannot take one more moment of this scene. I leave the room and head to the med room. Shut the door and put my head on the counter and cry. I have never once cried over a patient. That is not to say I haven't felt sad or angry enough before, but I have always kept my composure. This, the culmination of all that was happening, just did me in. A fairly young nurse came into the room too, she too was crying, I hugged her, told her that we did our best, that there was nothing more we could have done. All the while I am angry at my ex for having added to the stress of my day. He is still sitting in the waiting room of my hospital. I want to scream at him, but I can't. I want him to go away. I refuse to go back to talk to him again. He does finally leave, late in the afternoon, after a co-worker went and told him to please leave, he had been there long enough. I was so drained.....but I went back to work on Saturday and on Sunday. Sunday morning being another difficult one. A palliative care patient, only diagnosed with cancer a few days earlier, died at the morning shift change, with many many family around him. It was so sad, his wife barely able to cope. This too, broke my heart. I hugged the wife and talked with the children. Then set about my task of caring for the body. Not a tear in sight.

I have been an RN for going on 9 years. I worked in health care for many years before that, in several different capacities. I am a good nurse, I am a tough nurse, I am a compassionate nurse. I care for patients, families, co-workers alike. I do my job as efficiently as I can.


apgaRN said...

Oh Iris,
It's okay to be human.
Thinking about you...

ali said...

sending you big giant-ass hugs right now :)

creative-type dad said...

I can't even imagine..