Tuesday, 21 September 2010

Tough Days at Work

This Sunday at work was one of the most difficult days I've ever had.

I have been nursing M for 3 years; some of my colleagues, 15 years. She had been ill for a long time due to complications from diabetes and for the last few years has essentially been dying very slowly. This has resulted in multiple admissions to hospital for very lengthy stays.

Over these years I'd become quite fond of M. She had a very traumatic childhood, she was abused physically and mentally, she self harmed as a result, messed around with her diabetes and made herself very ill in order to be admitted to hospital. She had a mother who was very selfish, who was the root cause of most of her problems, who staff had never met until the last few months.

She was 31, but acted like a teenager.

M was very crafty with her hands, her cross-stitches were perfect and she spent her time in hospital making beaded jewellery.

However M could also be quite manipulative and knew ways to get all your attention. She and I fought like sisters, and she could frustrate me no end. She had her consultant wrapped around her finger, and always got her way. But we would have long chats about making stuff; she would make a bracelet, I would knit a wee phone pouch on my breaks and we would swap. When I got married she was over the moon, demanded lots of photo's, gutted that she couldn't come to the church to see us.

Over the past few weeks M's condition deteriorated, and on Thursday became even worse. I phoned her mum and asked her to come and see her. She told me she was too "stressed out" to come and that she would see her on Monday. By Sunday she couldn't communicate and was really struggling. I pretty much had to beg her to come to the ward.

When her mum eventually arrived at the ward on Sunday afternoon, I could hear M trying to say "ma!". Her mum only stayed for an hour. I practically begged her to stay, but she said she herself was "too ill" with high blood pressure. Her daughter was dying. Any mother wouldn't think twice about staying with their child. But she left. And I was angry. Angry because after all her mother had done to her in the past, she was still the only person she wanted with her. M was scared.

Her mum left the ward at 4pm. And at 7pm M's breathing slowed right down. I phoned again, stressing how ill M was, and how she may not be with us for much longer. Mum gave a list of excuses, and I ended up just putting the phone down, because tears were streaming down my face. I've been nursing for four years now. We deal with death a lot, and it's something that you can never "get used to". It's always sad, sometimes expected, sometimes very unexpected. Sometimes I deal with it well, other times I have to rush off to the toilet, have 2 minutes to let it out, then return and do my job.

At 7.15pm, with myself and two nursing assistants by her side, M passed away.

When I got home, I opened the door, and all my husband had to say was "hello" and I completely broke down. I cried solidly for half an hour.I was so upset, I couldn't hold in my tears. Everyone was very upset, emotional, but we were almost relieved as M didn't have to battle anymore, didn't have to suffer. She was comfortable, she went in peace, and most of all she had people around her who genuinely cared for her.

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