Tuesday, June 21, 2011


Today I was at work to get through all the mandatory training updates that I have to do each year - the pain management ones, fire and emergency training, infection control - all the usual subjects. The final one of the day was basic life support and it was at this point that the day started falling apart.

Let me go back a few months....we had a patient who I had nursed on a number of admissions and each time this wonderful woman came through the ward doors I was always keen for a chat to find out how life had been going for her and her boys (she had two boys, one of which was autistic so we had a bit in common). She had been a historian and had PhD for which she had worked on tracing acient langugaes - how they travelled to different geological locations and how they developed over time. She was amazing.

2:22 on a Thursday morning there was an emergency resus code on our ward which I was involved in and which resulted in this womans death. It was the first time I had ever performed CPR outside of a training scenario. It was awful. During the resus we applied an AED which is an automated defibrilator and we did shock her. It was awful.

Fast forward to today and as soon as the instructor ripped open the packed on the AED I had a lump in my throat. A big one. Then I heard the automated voice and I wished an enormous hole would open up and swallow me whole. I closed my eyes and all I could see was this dead womans eyes, the way her jugular line would ooze every time we compressed her chest. The phone call I had to make. I felt absolutely ill.

I walked out of the room, head spinning, eyes wet and feeling just awful. Composed myself, went back in and finished the session but as soon as I got in the car I burst into tears and cried all the way home. Cried for the loss of a woman who was amazing, cried for two little boys who will have a lifetime of mothers days, birthdays and christmas celebrations without the woman who bought them into this world. It sucks. Life sucks.


nettie said...

No, Bec, death sucks. It sucks big time for those left behind. Your post is so poignant, it brought tears to my eyes too.

nettie said...

My previous comment was a little inept, I think. What I meant to say is along the lines of while very sucky things sure do happen, and the things that you see and do in your job are beyond the coping mechanism of many of us (well, me, at least), I am just so full of admiration for you for walking back into that training session and completing it. It puts things into perspective for me when I think I'm having a bad day!

Lou's Mum said...

That must have been so hard Bec. I think it has a positive side for you though - it shows you care about the people you care for and what happens to them. I think that makes for an excellent health care professional. I would rather a nurse who might shed a tear over me than one who might just treat me as another statistic. Hopefully it gets easier to deal with as time goes on though. And well done for going back in and completing the session.

rebecca said...

I've had to do this too bec on three separate occasions and it isn't nice. I think the 1st time gets to you hugely but even though it sounds awful it does get easier. I'm only a volunteer ambo so it isn't alway in a hospital enviroment. I will never forget my first CPR patient who didn't make it. Talking about it does help.

Trudi said...

I have been at work when we've lost babies, and it can be very traumatic. It can be helpful to talk about the experience with colleagues who were there, or with more experienced staff.

It will get easier, but remember that tears can be therapeutic too. Thinking of you and sending you some good thoughts

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