You Never Know

Saturday, March 30, 2013

A sad, mentally tough night at work last night.

My patient was a man who essentially had no medical history, had gone to the doctor for a sore throat, was given antibiotics and after two doses, had an anaphylactic reaction and went into cardiac arrest.  His airway was so swollen that they were unable to get an artificial airway until an emergency trach was done in the ER.  He was without a heartbeat and an airway for close to 30 minutes.  He was revived, but with high probability of anoxic (lack of oxygen) brain injury.

The family was, justifiably, in shock, but also very hopeful, as he was now getting oxygen, had a heartbeat, LOOKED like their husband/father/brother.

Even though the intensivist and neurologist both explained a grim prognosis, the family just couldn’t process it.

And that made my job even harder.

I didn’t want to take away their hope.  But I also wanted to be honest.  It was a fine line and I did the best I could.

I took care of the patient AND the family with all my might, always thinking, “life is just not fair” and blinking back tears on many occasions.

The heartfelt hugs I got from the family members as I left my shift made me feel as though I helped this family in one small way.

You never know what life will bring you.

And this is why it is SO important to live your life with no regret.  To do the things you dream of.  To say “I love you” to family and loved ones often.

 

 

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Published in: on March 30, 2013 at 8:19 am  Comments (8)  

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8 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. So true Kaye. Life is precious. I’m so sorry for your patient, but so glad that the family had such a kind, compassionate nurse to help them through such an ordeal.

    • I don’t know the outcome yet as the neurologist was waiting 48 hours for final prognosis (after an EEG), but I’m hoping that if there is no brain activity that the family had time to come to terms with what happened. It really was a horribly sad thing to happen. I know these things happen all the time but when you are personally involved in them, they become so much more real.

      • It does make it more real. There is no easy way to cope with it either for anyone involved. I think it is healthy and therapeutic that you wrote about it. Nurses grieve too, but because we need to support the family an advocate for the patient our emotions are often neglected. I’ll be sending thoughts and prayers in hopes of a positive outcome. I’ll hope you write an update.

      • Thanks Aimee for understanding…it was truly an emotional night for me and probably more so since it was occurring over Easter weekend, a time when family, regardless of religion, generally spends time together. I go back on Wednesday, so I’ll know then. I’ll definitely keep you updated and thank you for your prayers.

    • Just to let you know Aimee…that gentleman did die, the family took him off the ventilator that Monday. Turns out he tested positive for H. influenza via sputum. He actually had epiglotitis from that, which is fairly rare, and mostly preventable nowadays due to vaccinations. But a medical emergency for someone as we now have seen. I’m sure the initial treating doctor may get sued…What a sad situation for that family.

      On Tue, Apr 2, 2013 at 10:39 AM, Kaye Van Straten wrote:

      > I don’t know the outcome yet as the neurologist was waiting 48 hours for > final prognosis (after an EEG), but I’m hoping that if there is no brain > activity that the family had time to come to terms with what happened. It > really was a horribly sad thing to happen. I know these things happen all > the time but when you are personally involved in them, they become so much > more real. > > >

      • I’m so sorry to hear that Kaye. My heart goes out to the family.

      • Kaye I tried to reply yesterday but it didn’t go through. I am so sorry to hear that about the patient. My heart goes out to the family.

      • That’s strange…I did see the comment…at least in my email! I know, I really feel for that family too…what a heartbreaking loss.


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