Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Protecting Myself

Since I haven't been a nurse that long, I still haven't learned how to protect myself emotionally. Before this week, it really hadn't been necessary. Most of our patients come into our lives so briefly that an emotional connection doesn't form, so when we lose them, it isn't as difficult. Until now.

In my 7.5 weeks of being a nurse, one patient has been admitted an discharged on 3 separate occasions. I have cared for him in each of his admissions and every time I see him, he is getting worse and worse. He has been admitted again and I fear that this admission will be his last. His cancer is out of control, he is no longer cognizant of what is going on, he is so swollen we have been unable to get an IV into him. His situation seems dire. I know that he will not get better and I know that this poor man will die alone in the hospital. He breaks my heart.

His death will be hard on me. I have emotionally invested myself because I feel for him. His family does not come to visit him, he spends most of days alone. I try to spend as much of my free time with him so he'll have some companionship. I hope this helps him in some way.

After each shift that I care for him, I cannot shake him from my mind. I worry about him and wish that his children would come and visit. I call my brother and yell at him to make sure he wears sunscreen and a hat while he is outside because I cannot bear the though of him getting skin cancer after seeing how it wrecks the body. Even on my off days, like today, I wonder if he is still with us or not. His death will be hard, I just hope that it doesn't make me hard as well.

There has to be a way to do my job well and not get this emotional. I have to find a way to be compassionate without emotional burnout. I'm sure there is a way to do this, I just haven't found it yet.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

A Couple of Things

First things first, I passed boards!!! What a relief to have that behind me. I told my hubby that I am more proud of passing NCLEX than I am of graduating college. It's true, I am. Now I can actually have a day off!! No more studying, I am officially done! WOOOOOO HOOOOOO!

Everything is going really well with my new job. I like the people I work with and I feel that I am getting into a groove. Unfortunately, this will all change when I switch from the day shift to night. Oh well, we all have to pay our dues. Everyday is a new learning experience. Nursing school prepares you for how to pass boards, not how things really are in the hospital setting. By time I get done with a 12 hour shift, my brain is full and I am fried.

Oncology is an amazing and heartbreaking place to work. There are days when I am certain that I have witnessed what can only be described as a miracle and there are days when you are certain that there is no good in the world at all. It's an emotional job, for me and the patient.

Tuesday, I witnessed both hell and miracle for one patient. He is in his 50's and has colon cancer. He had been fine most of the day but by noon there was definitely something off about him. He was having new and unusual symptoms. By 3pm he was in septic shock because his bowel had perforated. He was immediately transported to have emergency surgery. The outcome was bleak as his bowel had perforated not once but three times. The chance of surviving this surgery is next to nothing, but he is alive. He lived through the surgery and is on the road to recovery. Amazing.