Wednesday, April 15, 2009

About a Nurse

I wasn't going to post this, but what the hell. Maybe it will help

When a young colleague dies for no apparent reason in your own ER it just makes no sense. Everyone is a mess. One nurse can't stop thinking about it, and talks incessantly about how awful it is; but we're all thinking the same thing. When things get quiet and we're alone with our thoughts, one of us will start in. "I just can't believe it", someone will say, or "You know, she...", and share some awful aspect of the whole scenario.

I know. I just can't talk about it anymore

Each time you run into someone new, it's like ripping open a wound. The details are hashed over and over. The circumstances of her death. The funeral. How awful it is that a great nurse and mother of two is gone with barely a life lived; so much that she wanted to do with her life that will now never happen.

This is a religious hospital which has done.........nothing for it's guilt-ridden grieving employees.

Yet, life must go on, doesn't it, no matter how difficult it seems. Those girls who had to perform CPR and post-mortem care on a friend, how do you think they are functioning Mr. Hospital Administrator? They had to get up the next day and go to work just like every day after cleaning her blood off a back board, bagging her cut-off clothes and stuffing 3 miles of EKG rhythm strips into a trash bag. Yet, it was a weekend and we did not have the opportunity to have a Critical Incident Stress Debriefing (CISD) from individuals who are trained to help workers deal with the aftermath of a traumatic event. We weren't offered a hospital chaplain or even a social worker. What did the hospital do for us?


Nurses, xray and lab techs from downtown volunteered to work so that all who wished could attend the funeral. One of our nurses sang a song, a beautiful tribute. EMS sent out a "last call" over the radio, honoring her 14 years of service to the local ambulance service; they had the chilling duty to respond to her house for a cardiac arrest. As he left the cemetery, her 3 year old broke my heart as he waved goodbye to his mother's casket.

Nearly two weeks.....two weeks... later we are offered a debriefing or sorts; it is too little too late in my opinion. Please spare me the religiosity; 31 year old healthy females don't belong "in Jesus' arms, resting and relaxing" when they have young children and a whole life ahead of them.

You bet I'm angry. My attitude sucks and I have referred to so many of the dental paineurs and narcotic seekers as douche bags that my co-workers are getting tired of it. Rightfully so.

The hospital clearly doesn't give a fat rat's ass about us or our loss; if or how we deal with it. We are outof sight and out of mind. Our co-worker is buried in the cemetery next to our facility that most of us drive by each and every day. She will be there forever, and we are constantly reminded of that fact.

As nurses we are used to dealing with grieving families, but are at a loss to come to grips with this tragedy. Time will heal of course, and we soldier on for now. We will help each other through this crisis because apparently all we have is each other.


Susan said...

I am always here if you need me . . . for anything.

SimplySweeter said...

I'm so sorry Sans.....

EDNurseasauras said...

Thanks guys. Wrote this last week when I was a little raw......

Davey Jones said...

my sincere condolences

Anonymous said...

I'm sorry for your loss. We lost a coworker in our own ER a few years back...we still talk about her everyday, and NO, the hospital never did a blessed thing for us either.

Anonymous said...

I've been a nurse for 43 years and have lost many nurse co-worker friends - some old, some way too young, some by disease, some traumatic, some by their own hand. And the thing that is always constant is nurses take care of nurses. Administration, religious outreach,social workers - they deal with ordinary death and grief very well, but when a nurse is lost it is not ordinary for any surviving nurse, co-worker, friend. We are the caretakers, the healers, the confidants, the referee, the Mom/Dad, and the only one who understands what it means to be a nurse. No one "gets" a nurse's sense of humor - who else can talk about about blood and bowel movements during a meal or laugh about the patient who kicked and punched when trying to remove dentures before surgery. And who else understands that every patient lost is a personal statement about us.
You are angry and rightly so but it does not matter that your administration did too little, too late - you all did the right thing by acknowledging the best and worst of your nurse, co-worker, friend. And when you pass by her grave every day let it be a reminder to cherrish today and each other - there is no gaurantee for tomorrow.

EDNurseasauras said...

So true.......well said!

Grumpy, M.D. said...

Good post.

It hurts. The internist across the street from me died last month. No clear reason. 5 years younger than me. He was getting his kids ready for school one morning and died.

Nice guy and good doc.

Just not right.

I'm sorry.

mojitogirl said...

Your "religious" hospital did a great disservice to its employees by failing to act immediately to ensure some type of debriefing for its workers. I've been through this situation twice, once a nursing colleague and another a beloved young MD, both tragic accidents. We were all supported, corralled and managers made sure we were all free to attend funeral /memorial services and have a chance to decompress. After all, we don't just attend and go back to work as if you leave it all behind. I'm sorry for your loss. Doubly sorry that it happened in your place of work, where you can't shake the thought every time you go near that particular room.

But seriously, don't let administration off the hook for this. They need to know that they screwed up BIG TIME! especially a "religious" hospital!

Again, my condolences for your loss.