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Old 12-14-2012, 10:31 AM   #11 (permalink)
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Everytime one of my patients dies, I feel like I should be crying, that I should feel great sorrow. A human life was lost, whether it was expected or not...whether it was an elderly patient who has lived a full life.
Obviously I can't let myself feel that everytime a patient dies or I wouldn't be a very stable person. I know I have to disconnect somewhat, so I do. So that I can be a professional and do my job. I just see so many nurses who walk in, treat the symptoms of a dying patient like its no big deal and move on. And I hope noone ever thinks I am that way
I am not in healthcare, I want to say thank you also for doing what you do, it takes a very strong person.
Death is part of life. I don't think because you have the capability of "disconnecting" from the emotion makes you any less of a caring person. Some people are better at coming to terms with things than some others are. What good would it be having someone care for you in your time of need if they were a complete emotional wreck, absolutely no good.
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Old 12-14-2012, 10:43 AM   #12 (permalink)
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So that I can be a professional and do my job. I just see so many nurses who walk in, treat the symptoms of a dying patient like its no big deal and move on. And I hope noone ever thinks I am that way.
There is a fine line between taking care of yourself mentally and being "cold".

It's not people, but let me tell you about learning to euth. dogs and then doing the job myself.
When I took my classes I took them with a known hoarder (now it's known, then it wasn't).
There were two dogs scheduled to be PTS we brought in for the classes.
The dogs were sedated heavily and then we practiced hitting veins, etc. I asked to do an IM shot as I'd never done one.
We practiced for a while then before the dog woke up, we put it to sleep, well, the instructor did anyway.
And this hoarder gal, she just started bawling. I thought it was so weird. I mean...we didn't even know the dog. I could say it was sad in the terms that it was sad because life is sad and pet overpopulation was sad.
But when working on the dog, I didn't see it as a dog, really, but a patch of fur that was my target when giving an injection, of piece of fur that had a vein in it I needed to hit. But it wasn't the whole dog, the whole situation at hand.

Later, I started working and had to euth. dogs routinely. They'd be there a few days and then put them down. It is sad, because the overall picture is sad, but it wasn't "heart rending", you know?

Then I had a Golden Retriever. She was an awesome dog. SO sweet. I called her Sierra, her name was Sarah I found out later, but I called her Sierra. She was there for some 8 weeks or so, 2 months I cared for her, daily, letting her out to potty, cleaning her kennel, bringing her back in. She used to bury her head in my armpit when I'd get down to pet her and play with her.

The owner was a complete jerk. Total loser. He had too many dogs and they'd escape and some kid would ride his bike by and yell at them, the entire pack would give chase, and one dog bit. I remember asking the kid to ID the dog that bit him and he said it was her

I told the owner to fight for her life, and he didn't, so after a few months, I was given the euth. order.
I knew Sierra would not be vicious, she was caught up in the chase. My own kids interacted with her, I knew her that well.

When I got the order, I sedated her and then did the euth. (tears are springing up as I write this - that's how much I avoid thinking about this).
I was holding it together, I told her I was sorry and that I knew she was a great dog.
But then a song came on the radio, "Fire and Rain" and I just lost it.

I was sobbing as if she was my own dog. It just really broke my heart

And yet I knew, when it was over, that I could not let myself do that any more or I'll never be able to continue to do this job.
That didn't mean I wasn't going to care for the dogs, but I can't let myself get wrapped up emotionally, or I'm going to burn out real quick.

So long story shorter - you have to care.
You have to give the best care you can.
But there's a difference between being caring and kind, and caring so much your heart is torn out every time one dies.

Last edited by msvette2u; 12-14-2012 at 10:49 AM.
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Old 12-14-2012, 10:53 AM   #13 (permalink)
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No , you should not be crying.
You are the rock. Your job is to be the strength for all around you who fall apart, and the very fact that you are seeing the nurses let it become routine tells me that you are far from being disconnected.
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Old 12-14-2012, 10:56 AM   #14 (permalink)
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I don't think there's anything wrong with the numbness you describe. At least as someone who's grandma passed peacefully in hospice with nurses there keeping her calm and comfortable, I was never once offended that the nurses and aids were not in tears. They did their jobs calmly and confidently and gave us our space to say goodbye and grieve.

I think most of us have to compartmentalize things that have to do with our jobs. I work in IT and do customer support and have been doing first level support for ten years, so I compartmentalize a lot otherwise I would have been burned out 6 years ago.

Thank you for all you do, good hospice care providers are truly angels!!
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Old 12-14-2012, 11:11 AM   #15 (permalink)
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My sister is an emergency room nurse. She utilizes me when she needs 'dark humor'. I know that when she starts to tell me about a patient, that is why she is doing it. She needs to distance herself from them. I help her by doing what I know she needs.
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Old 12-14-2012, 01:40 PM   #16 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by Cstout View Post
I feel like Ive become numb sometimes. And I dont like it.
I am an EMT/Firefighter in a high volume trauma area. I have seen some pretty gruesome things and have had my fair share of heart breaking calls.

You have to be numb, to an extent. I know you're a CNA this this scenario is unlikely but it's the best one I have. Say you're on a call involving several children in a fatal car accident. There is one survivor that happens to be an adult but he is in critical condition. If you get emotional about the children, your care to the adult will not be exceptional. In that moment you are not allowed to have emotions.

When the call is over, you still have to retain a good majority of that numbness in order to continue doing your job and living a happy life. I have been told by a few people very close to me that I am cold about tragedy, while others close to me understand I have to be emotionally detached and consider me one of the most compassionate people they know.

I was a CNA for years and watched people die several times, but with EMS it was different. I remember my first fatality. It was a young guy who made a bad decision that cost him his life. It happened in a very public area and there were 50+ people watching us and crying as we are doing everything possible to bring him back, knowing that we can't. I remember after the call was over I was concerned about myself because I didn't feel sad about it. I felt sorry for his family, but it wasn't going to affect my life and that worried me. My Chief and a few captains pulled me aside to talk, because it was my first fatality. I explained that to them and they all we're impressed by my ability to disconnect but still feel compassion. Does that even make sense?

You NEED to be numb. Those of us who choose healthcare as a profession, do it because we have the ability to turn off our emotions and thrive in extreme situations when no one else can. Like Sunflowers said, YOU are the rock.

Last edited by cptduke; 12-14-2012 at 01:49 PM.
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