Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Haste

I saw what the consequences of tonight were, but I can't even begin to imagine the terror which you experienced. What you went through is horrifying. And when you showed up in my ER, I'm not even sure if you were aware of how bad and tragic it was.

I do know that we worked hard to save you. Perhaps too hard - we flung questions at you, told you to look at me, look at the doctor, move your only working extremity. Maybe I was too brisk. I was only trying to help you, and sometimes in our haste to determine how sick you are we forget that you're scared here too - even if you can't tell us you are.

I wish I had done it all differently. When I told you to be still, I tried to do it gently. But looking back, I know that I wasn't comforting. I wish I wasn't so used to these traumas now; I wish you had met me two years ago, when I would have held your hand while talking to you instead of just brushing your forehead briefly like the jaded person I am. I wish, when I made eye contact with you after telling you yet again to please be still and let us evaluate your injuries and try to fix you, that I had known I would be the last person you would ever see.

I saw you leave this world, and I was so busy saving you that I forgot to be there for you. I don't think there was anything we could have done different medically. You were going to die, and I couldn't have stopped that. But I should have helped you die with more dignity, and I failed.

I've thought about you almost constantly since you passed. I keep replaying your final moments in my head, and I think of a thousand things I could have, should have said to comfort you. I'm sorry I didn't do that. It's not that I didn't care about you, I just put my trauma nurse face on and forgot to show it.

I'm sorry.

I hope you were able to watch how much care and love I put into cleansing your blood soaked body after your death. I hope, wherever you are, that you can forgive me - and that you can recognize my sadness now as my apology to you. I hope I think of you every time something like this happens - I never again want to forget to be a comforting voice as the one who will watch you die.

12 comments:

Anonymous said...

Wow. What a deep and powerful post. I have a good friend that is in her sr year toward being an RN and we read your blog. This post is amazing. Thank you for being so honest.

NNR said...

Good reminder.

Sean said...

*HUGZ*
Some of us hate knowing how you feel.
Thanks for the reminder.

Stacie said...

i have no words for this other than wow.

tp said...

wow.
I think you are a great nurse, for the record.

AtYourCervix said...

Excellent reminder! I try to help focus on talking to and calming the pregnant woman in urgent/emergency situations. Many times, we have a whole lot of people descending on her in an emergent situation. We (as a whole) tend to overlook the emotional needs of the woman. It only takes a moment, if you seem to have "too many hands" helping at the time, to be the one person who steps aside, and calmly talks in the person's ear, telling her that you are there - RIGHT THERE - with her. You hold her hand, give a reassuring touch to her forehead, and give steady eye contact. I am amazed at how you can have such a strong connection to another human being at that moment in time, while the crisis swirls around you both.

Anonymous said...

Such a beautiful testimonial, truly. I hope you can find peace and know that no matter what you think you didn't do, every thing you do as a nurse is important to patients so please don't be so hard on yourself. Hang in there. :)

torontoemerg said...

Shit. We've all been there. But remember, in the ED, there's room for both ABCs and compassion and empathy. The trick is doing both in a way that provides the best possible care.

Also: reflective practice is the core of good nursing: you do this very well.

WannaBePA said...

Beautiful...

Jackie said...

Yep, been there, not with a "trauma" but anyone who thinks carrying a child for 9 months and not being able to take it home, but planning visits to its grave isn't trauma, clearly has never done my job, or been that mom. It is so hard to be a new nurse, and competently and compassionately do your job, and by the way, "dont get personally attached". I was so happy the first time I was able to take care of a mom experiencing a loss without tears, until I got home and realized that made me a callused old cow who didn't deserve to be in the patients room.
I love how your words come right from the honest heart of all of us "new" nurses, that aren't so new any more. Thank you for this post!

Fordo said...

You are a kind old soul. Beautiful post and reminder.

Joni Watson said...

Oh. My. Goodness. You made some memories surface, for sure.

Beautiful writing. Sincere. Always a great reminder of the excellence that differentiates nursing from so many other professions - the true care.