Thursday, March 29, 2007

In memory of Mr. _________

DISCLAIMER: from a nursing students' perspective - please do not read if you have recently lost a loved one...

Friday's clinical did not start off very positively. In fact it has taken me almost a week to be able to blog about it.

During our briefing we found out that a resident had passed during the night. There have been a few times that I had heard of a patient passing in between our clinical visits, but this was the first recent one. As soon as I heard that the body was still in the patients’ room, I totally broke out in hives, and KNEW somehow we’d be involved. I realize that this was an excellent learning opportunity, but I just didn’t feel ready, but at the same time, I knew one is probably never ready for such a thing.

Sadly, I was at the disadvantage that this was the first person I had ever seen after they had died. Becuz I am such an emotional person, I have purposely avoided any situation where I would have to go near an open casket, even for family members, and my friends and family all know this about me. Unfortunately, this did not help my situation for Friday.

The walk to the patients’ room seemed too short so I didn’t get the chance to overcome my panic! Then, I mistakenly was one of the first students in the room so I was right up front. Glad I wasn’t expected to help cuz I would’ve been useless! Everything just seemed wrong…the waxy coloring of the body – his eyes being wide open; dull and lifeless – the mouth half open in a struggling breathless gasp. Was just too much and I didn’t know whether I was going to throw up or faint so had to get to the back. What I surprisingly found to be the worst part, was the tagging of the toe, and then the body getting tightly wrapped in the plastic, and that image haunted me all day. It was just so final, so unnatural and so obvious that a human body does not belong wrapped up in plastic. I kept expecting to see him struggle to get out of the plastic.

One thing that did impress me was how everything was done quietly, with dignity and respectfully. That was great to see. Overall, this was a great learning opportunity, and I am just thankful that this was an elderly person, whom I had never met, who had been suffering but now was at peace. Probably made this learning experience a lot easier than it could have been!

Later, when I was getting my meal ready for my patient, I chatted briefly with the RNA who gave me her experience with her first dead body, with advice for next time, which I have already passed on and will continue to pass on to other nursing students. She told me her teacher advised her to touch the body, as it helps overcome any fears we may have and then you realize there is nothing to be afraid of. She said it totally worked for her, and others she has talked to. So I will try and remember that for next time. As it was, I was unable to have my afternoon nap becuz the images would not leave my mind, and I was a wreck at work that night, as it did not seem right that I had witnessed a body be tagged and wrapped up like a mummy to be shipped off to a funeral home, and yet a few hours later, there I was sitting at my desk doing paperwork…

Friday I actually had a good day with my patient. Our time together was totally upbeat and went fairly smoothly. We even chatted about her family and the weather! I have to admit, I actually think I will miss her when clinical is over! Also, I was happy that I successfully cared for 2 clients before break with time to spare. I realize that I still have a long way to go yet, but I have come a long way in the past few weeks.

Only one more clinical to go…. having a BBQ this weekend to celebrate surviving the whole ordeal!

1 comment:

gypsy said...

i saw your comment on aboutanurse's blog regarding your experience of your first post-mortem patient.

you brought back memories and i am now going to read this entry, since you have blogged about it :) i was also lucky enough when i was a nursing asst in training, to have a patient die on my shift. i was called down to WATCH the post-mortem care. they effing LIED TO ME. i was handed a basin and told to get the warm soapy water and me and another nursing asst trainee were to DO the care. it freaked me out beyond belief. and i held it together until we were done, and then i was a sobbing idiot. so go easy on yourself... it does get easier.


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