Nurses are amazing and they are often the unsung heroes of healthcare. When I think about the times I’ve spent in hospitals I have almost zero memories of the doctors, but I have a lot of great memories of the nurses.
I was reminded of this fact when reading this pretty untraditional nurse story that @rn_critcare shared. I wonder how many times healthcare IT developers think about these kinds of unique situations that nurses face. Ok, they aren’t all this large, but they are just as nuanced.
As told by @rn_critcare:
Today in my role as nurse I wore many hats. Let me tell you a story about how the day went… #NurseLife
Came in this am to discover my pt from yesterday had imaging overnight that revealed catastrophic injuries, along with her sepsis and multi-system organ failure
Within 1/2 hr her fiance approached me about calling in a chaplain, which I assume is to do final prayers. He informs me that he wants to marry her. Today.
I’m not sure b/c pt is sedated and fully ventilated, with no hope of waking up.
Spend next few hours calling chaplains/priests/ministers. Keep in mind it’s Sunday AM and church is happening soon.
I find out that if we can show “intent to marry” that a ceremony can be performed. Photos of pt trying on dress are used. A minister agrees to come after church.
Preparations are being made. Family is happy that we can do this for their loved ones.
Except Pt starts to deteriorate. Cushing triad. Call family in and discuss options. They have a family member willing to perform ceremony, if only for symbolic reasons now…
Hair is washed and braided. I give the sisters some sheets and scissors for a makeshift wedding dress (new) while I go collect flowers from other rooms around the unit. (borrowed)
Flowers are placed in braids along with headband & veil. A blue blanket is draped at end of bed.
Everyone lines up outside the unit and begin the parade into the room. So. Many. People. Can hardly make my way around but secure a post at the med pumps and monitor.
Music is being played, someone has a guitar and another has a drum.
The chaplains words are brief but loving. Asks him does he take her… I do. Asks does she take him, bridesmaids all reply “she does”
Everyone in tears
They are now all in song with only the drum being played, which I feel is shaking my entire soul
Everyone singing Stand by Me and I’m in tears.
Pt stabilizes somewhat. I realize it’s now afternoon and I haven’t had a break or worse, my coffee! I decide to step away for a few minutes. Go outside for air. Find myself at grocery store across the street…
Purchase cake and have 2 hearts drawn with their initials, some bubbly (sparkling juice), and plastic champagne flutes. There was a wedding after all… New groom takes bottle outside with fam, pops the cork & comes back for mini reception.
So much love
I decide to get some charting done. Post-op comes back across the hall and I’m called to help. CRRT machine beeping next door and tend to that. Realize I still haven’t eaten. Grab a cookie from the desk (weekend tradition from consultants)
Pt begins to fail again.
Family called back in, this time the air has changed. It’s heavier and somehow feels hotter than hours before.
The guitar is being played and everyone is singing Amazing Grace. Am I singing along? Maybe. Not sure with this lump in my throat.
Have to turn away and pretend like I’m tending to something very important, which turns out is the wall, but it’s holding me up now, and the singing and drumming is getting louder and I’m just trying to keep it together, keep her comfortable… Won’t be long now…
Her children are at her side now telling her they love her, how wonderful she is, how much they love their step-dad, don’t worry they will take care of him.
A tear falls down her cheek and now everyone is sobbing. My sobs are internalized and I keep my eye on the monitor…
New groom is by her side and I whisper in his ear that she has passed, as this sacred news is shared with a spouse first.
The new groom is now a widow.
One by one the people exit the room, each one reaching out for a hug. Each hug brings me a little closer to the inevitable spill over of tears. My heart aches for them. There are no words, my eyes pleading with them to accept my sincerest condolences…
They need help with funeral home. Explain of course I can help guide them, this is unchartered territory and I do this all the time. My insides are screaming ALL THE TIME!
Call funeral home, with request to leave braids untouched… Veil and flowers too.
I finish my charting. Realize there’s no supper break happening either. Wash my pt up. Gently remove the countless tubes and IVs. Use hushed tones as I explain to her what I am doing, because even in death we deliver honour and dignity.
Take a new nurse down to morgue with me, because it’s a teaching hospital after all. Carry on chatting as though my spirit isn’t weeping inside.
Get back to unit.
Take a long overdue drink of water.
No time for tears.
There’s an admission on the way.