Wednesday, April 13, 2005


I had my second patient death since my grandmother died. This patient died the weekend before my aunt passed. I was actually a little shaken, because I hadn't been expecting this patient to die - well, at least not that night.

My response to her death was different. I kind of avoided her room after she died, which I don't normally do. I think my personal losses do make my professional losses harder.

When I told the doctor that our patient had died, she came into her room with tears in her eyes. I actually had the best post-mortem interaction with doctors that I've ever had. She and her supervising doctor and I sat at the patient's bedside and processed the loss together. All the while, the supervising doctor held the deceased patient's hand in his. I was so touched.

I probably wasn't the best at being open myself, my own personal grief so close to the surface. But it was still a really good experience. As we were getting up from the bedside to leave and move on with the details we had to take care of post-mortem, the patient's primary doctor opened her arms to give me a hug.

This death was complicated by the fact that the patient had been sending mixed messages about what she wanted all night.

Although I technically could have passed the task on to the next nurse coming onto
shift, I made myself do the post-mortem care with a nursing aid. I'm glad I did it, despite my unusual discomfort. Kind of like getting back on a bike after you've fallen.

The patient was a really sweet lady - and so cute. She was in her 60's. Sadly, she didn't have any family. She gave us all a laugh when she was asked if she does any drugs. She responded, "Sure. i smoke a little weed now and then." I was amused. If you'd seen this cute little old lady, I bet you'd have been amused as well. Definitely breaking stereotypes.

The next night, I had a new patient in that same room. All night, the room felt super-drafty and cold. The new patient kept complaining that she was cold, too. Have you seen 6th Sense? In that movie the young boy feels cold whenever there are ghosts around. So, of course, this left me feeling mildly spooked.

Then later, the new patient said to me, "I had a visitor." (She didn't have any visitors in the middle of the night). And I said, "No, you didn't have any visitors." And she looked at me confused, "Are you sure no one was in here?" And I said, "Yes."

Doo doo doo doo... (twilight zone soundtrack)

Do you believe in ghosts? Generally, I don't. But things like this
make me wonder. What do you think?

NOTE: This posting was adapted from recent emails sent to a good friend. So Ben, sorry for the repeat of a story you've already heard. :-)

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