My name is Cory. I am a mom, a wife, a NaNa, and a critical care nurse that lives in Nashville, TN. I have found my calling in ER/Trauma/ICU. Each day I find myself experiencing life changing events and hope that by reading my posts, you will experience and feel some of what I do. If you read nothing else, please take time to read "The Hardest Question Ever Asked". It's my very first posting. And if for some reason you think you see your story here.....you don't. It's not about you or anyone you know. =)
Friday, November 23, 2007
So I got this phone call at 0530 telling me that I was being put on call. I thought it was kind of strange that a coworker was calling rather than the Nursing Supervisor. Her reason for calling? To tell me that a patient I had become very close to had died last night, on Thanksgiving Day. A piece of my heart broke off at that very moment. I cried for two hours before falling asleep. Life is so unfair.
About 3 weeks ago, we got a patient in that was severely emaciated and had a persistent cough, night sweats, fever and chills. He was put on AFB isolation until we could rule out TB which we did. He did not have TB, he had full blown AIDS.
There is so much more to this story than I can even go into.
This patient was Spanish speaking only and I was one of the few in our unit who could communicate with him (without using a language line) so naturally I spent a lot of time caring for him, translating for other nurses and doctors as well as talking to him about Code Status which brings me to a subject that infuriates me. Why in God’s name do some doctor’s insist on discussing code status with patients day after day after day???? If a patient states he wants everything in our power done to help him even knowing that his illness will kill him, why must doctor’s persist until they get the Code Status that they think is right!!!!?? This is so wrong. And it ticks me off! (Noel had a 9 year old son he wanted to get well enough to get home to.)
Regardless, the other things that bothered me regarding this case is the indifference from caregivers I saw at times because of not only his diagnosis, but the communication barrier. We as healthcare professionals tend to be “uncomfortable” in situations where we cannot communicate, I’ve been there myself. But I've also been the patient in a different country that couldn't communicate. We as nurses have taken an oath to care for others, in any circumstance! I saw nurses go in with masks, gloves and gowns (knowing the patient was no longer on isolation), I saw a nurse with the FLU assigned to this patient (his WBC count was 1.2 for Christ’s sake!) It makes me shake my head in wonder at times. Too often we forget that we are still treating human beings. They feel. They hurt. Just like we do.
No, I don’t have AIDS and don’t know how he must have felt but I can imagine, and I imagine it feels awful. I sat for hours on end in those 3 weeks on his bed talking to him, helping him through the horrendous bone and bone marrow biopsies. I bathed him when he said no one had touched him for a week. Before I left on Tuesday evening, I told him I felt “uncomfortable” about being off for two days. I just didn’t have a good feeling. (He told me: "No se preocupe. Así es la vida" which means "Don't worry, that's life". I figured he would rent a vent before I got back but during one of the two days I was off the doctor talked him into a Code Status II which states he does not want intubation or defibrillation. I wasn't naive enough to think that he would beat this disease, but I did hope that we could strengthen him enough so he could see his son again.
I know there are still millions of people out there that are uneducated about HIV and that are scared. Please, if you are one of those people, READ! ASK QUESTIONS! Life is too short not to help others in every way that we can. Here is a wonderful site that gives great, easy to understand information and has an awesome question and answer section. The Body
As always…….thanks for listening!