Friday, July 29, 2011

Am I going to die?

What do you do when your patient asks you: "Am I going to die?" And they keep asking it over and over again. You tell them no, you aren't going to die. What else are you going to say? Good chance you will die sorry....A guy I had a couple of months ago was so anxious that he even asked me on a scale of 1 to 10 he wanted to know where he was in relation to dying. I said I couldn't do that, put a number on his probable mortality. So I went on reassuring him that he wouldn't die, that we were going to make sure he didn't, we were going to take good care of him.

Well, its time for me to go home, and guess what? The critical anxious guy started circling the drain. He is in his 40's. His blood pressure plummeted. He got pale and sweaty, lethargic. Not good. I had been worried about him anyway and I don't worry about a lot of people, but he worried me. I just had this feeling that he could go down the toilet at any minute and sure enough he did. So he went into trendelenburg, fluids wide open, blood already infusing. Doctor sets up to put in a central line. We get the rapid infuser ready to plug into that line. This guy, who had been so anxious that he was literally shaking, was now staring, still conscious but very quiet. When I gave report to the ICU nurse, the first thing I said was this guy worries me. I don't say that much. Will he make it? I don't know. He will need some rapid intervention in ICU or he won't.

As I left he was still in trendelenburg, looking a little better but not much. When I got home I cried. I never cry. I have been doing this so long that I have seen just about everything, done just about everything. I saw his face, pale and sweaty, as I rode home staring off into space. His worse nightmare was coming true. He was only one of several younger critical patients I've had in the last couple of months. I guess it just got to me today. After all, I'm human.


Lynda Halliger-Otvos said...

Even us humans get to break out in tears once in a while over what we do--it’s a hard job and it involves being able to keep on going despite the emotions swirling. Know you are appreciated and that you are vital to our culture.

rnraquel said...

If it never got to you, that would be a bad sign.

Lynda said...

Thanks for your comment on my blog. I've enjoyed checking out your blog - very interesting to read about your experiences!

Phiddy said...

You brought me back there exactly where you were 20 or, so years ago...concerned and worried about a patient. I thank you for making cry when I remember being there too. Nothing changes that remains the same.

Hyperion said...

In the Hindu sacred texts, the Hero Yudhishtara arrives at the lake of death, and must answer 18 questions put to him by a Yaksha (spirit), before he may take a drink of water from the lake without dying.

One of the question runs thus:

Yaksha: "O great warrior! Answer this question: What is the fact which causes the greatest wonder in this World?"

Yudhishtira: "O Yaksha: It is, that every day, we see hundreds of living creatures enter Death's hallowed door. Yet when our own time comes, we cannot reconcile ourselves to that which is natural, and in the fitness of things"

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