Friday, February 25, 2011

A Sad Day

I have been a private duty nurse for a little over 5 years, caring for a 20-something patient who became disabled at the age of 9 months after having meningitis (due to privacy laws I can't give too much identifying information).

Private duty nursing is unique in that it's usually long-term, and the care is done in the patient's home. I love private duty nursing as I only had one patient to care for, so was able to really get to know her (and her family) and take my time in caring for her. A private duty nurse can become part of the family, and I feel like I became part of the family after being there several times a week over 5 years.

When I first started working with my patient, I was very intimidated by her medical problems and the procedures I did every day. She was unable to communicate verbally, but I learned to read her mood by her facial expressions--she let me know when she was not happy with me! Over weeks of working with her I became more comfortable with her needs and the procedures I did. I also got to know her family and enjoyed talking with them.

Over the years she was periodically sick, but usually recovered fairly quickly with medication and the care of her nurses and her mom. Several weeks ago she became sick again. I visited her on a Sunday morning and although she was sick, she was glad to see me. I got an order from the doctor and thought that when I went back on Monday (my regular day to work) she would be recovering.

I was unpleasantly surprised Monday morning when I got there and it was obvious she had quicly become VERY sick. Her mom called the ambulance within minutes of my arrival and assessment. I went to see her in the hospital after she'd been there for several days...she opened her eyes and gave me a smile when I talked to her. We thought she was on her way to recovery, but after several days she was transferred to another hospital, as she just was not getting well.

I was very sad when I got the call from one of her other nurses early this morning, to say that she had died during the night.

While I know she is in heaven, healthy and whole, I am still sad for myself and the other nurses, who will really miss her. And of course I am so sad for her parents and siblings, who will also miss her!

She and her family taught me many lessons, few of them related to nursing. I'm still sorting through all of those thoughts and will write about them later.

Meanwhile, please say a prayer for her family...I pray that they will feel God's love and comfort and peace during this difficult time.

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