Friday, October 23, 2015

Watching a grown man cry

Last week when I worked I had a pt who had a sinal aneurysm that was leaking and was so large (8.5cm) that the family was told that surgery wasn't an option - but then a new doc came onto the case and told the family that decisions would be held until a MRI was done - but wouldn't be done for 2-3 more days.

Unfortunately the pt was in incredible amounts of pain with shooting pains down & up the left leg - which no nurse was really trying to get a handle on. I took pity and ensured that it was my mission for the day to get the pain under control. Which I managed to do.

The sad part was the conversation that I had with the daughter & son-in-law... about watching the parent die a slow and REALLY painful death... about how the pain wasn't being controlled/managed, and how they just wished she would be snowed into oblivion because it was painful to watch this parent suffer.

The talking was cathartic to them but it was difficult. The daughter started crying which made me choke up a bit but when the son-in-law started crying the tears welled up and I only JUST managed to control them. I was able to get through it just barely though.

I was surprised to see the daughter yesterday when I worked. I asked about her parent and whether the MRI showed anything.... she told me that the aneurysm had grown to twice the size and was definately inoperable. My paultry words "oh, I'm so sorry to hear that" and my follow up "are the nurses at least controlling her pain properly". I was saddened to hear her respond that no they weren't and saw the tears well up again. I apologized on behalf of the nurses of my unit because I know that more could have been done for this pt. Then the palliative care doc took her to a private room to discuss what would now occur from that point on.

When she came out she gave me a brief synopsis of the conversation - that the pt would be moved to the palliative unit later in the shift. When they were transferring her there the son-in-law was there as well and he was looking sooooo sad, on the verge of tears. I went over to the pt and said my good-byes and then gave a hug to the son-in-law, who gave me a solid hug back who let a tear roll down his cheek. Then I gave a hug to the daughter, with whom I connected with,

When we parted ways she thanked me for being so caring and that she would always remember me and when she sent in her letter about the care she & her parent received, that I would be mentioned as her #1 nurse.

It was perhaps the hardest interaction I've had in a long time - seeing grown men cry is hard for me. It causes me to well up every time.

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