However, I've had a particularly tough weekend. Not only is my ward a particularly busy medical ward, but we have lots of single side rooms, which means we tend to get a lot of patients who are in the last few days of their lives. This weekend, I have been nursing seven patients who are at the end of their lives, three of whom where in their last hours. Which has left me a little bit emotionally drained. I love nothing more than doing my best to make sure that patients are pain free, comfortable and treated with the utmost dignity, that everyone deserves. Patients like these are why I became a nurse.
You try to be as strong as you can. For the patients, but mostly for their families. You become the shoulder to cry on. The person they take their anger out on. The one they ask all the questions they forgot to ask the doctors. And you do the best you can.
Then sometimes your emotions catch you by surprise.
I received a patient from A+E at around 4am on Sunday morning. His family arrived with him and he was not expected to live so he was with us for end of life care. But within 15 minutes of his transfer, he had passed away. His family were around him, including his two sons, and after doing all the usual checks, I left the family to have some time alone. And when I got back to the nurses station, I started to cry. I don't know where it came from. And it felt silly, because I didn't know the man, or his family, but I was overcome with a wave of sadness. It was Father's Day, and two sons had just lost their father. Eight hours prior they'd been sitting having dinner together, they no doubt had written their cards for him, and now he was gone. And I felt overwhelmed.
Where it came from I don't know. Perhaps it was an accumulation of dealing with three seperate, grieving families, mixed with the tiredness of nightshift, and genuine sadness for the family. But you pick yourself up, dry your eyes, and hope your colleagues didn't see you.
You never get used to patients passing away. I believe that if you do, then it's time to get out of nursing. On Sunday morning, I took a detour to my parents house on the way home from work to give my dad his Father's Day gifts, and a few more kisses than usual.