Tuesday, September 21, 2004


His daughter had been hunting me down at the nurse's station every hour. "I want to speak to the social worker. He said he'd come by today."

"I don't know where he is, but I'll gladly page him again for you." I had paged him every hour for the last three, but did as I'd promised and tried yet again. With one of my patients in the last minutes of his life, another refusing a life-saving medication because he was afraid of needles, a third patient who needed a new IV placed so she could receive a time-sensitive medication, my hounding down the social worker for a non-urgent need seemed the least of my priorities. But I impressed myself with my patience with her.

"Did the social worker come by yet?" I asked apprehensively.

"Yes, thank you so much," the daughter seemed significantly more relaxed. She pulled me outside the room.

"My father didn't even tell me that he was sick until last week. Apparently he's been going for tests and procedures for months. I'm so mad at him for waiting so long. And now I'm having to come in at the last minute to tie up loose ends." She looked frustrated.

"Have you talked with your father about how you're feeling?"

"Yes," she paused to looked back into her father's room. "He's been looking worse and worse with every day that goes by. It's so hard to watch your father dying," she cried out to me, as she let the tears fall down her face.

"I cannot even imagine," I breathed the words out as the tears swelled up in the rims of my own eyes. I hadn't realized she was aware how close her father was getting to the end of his life. This patient hadn't officially been switched into palliative care yet.

"Thank you for all your help today," she reached out and affectionately touched my shoulder.

Patience, as exhausting as it may be at times, never fails to reward.


Jennynyc said...

You handled the situations so beautifully! What do you do for yourself to cope with such intensity and sadness?

Nurse Mia said...

Well, by writing this blog and getting such supportive feedback from friends like you, for starters. :-)

Jennynyc said...

Thanks :-)

no milk said...

i quoted this mia!