A patient was brought to ICU as an RRT transfer. The patient coughed once and began to hemorrhage. I called for help and Brittany was the first to reach me. We called the code blue and alternately cared for the patient and the family who was at the bedside throughout the course of the resuscitation until the family decided to stop resuscitative efforts. The family left the room to go grab some food, and Brittany and I sat in the room with the patient so he would not be alone when he passed away.
The son and the patient's wife asked if it was okay for them to leave and she explained to them that it is not uncommon for patients to wait until family has left to die and that we as the people who care for the patients also care for the families. It is okay that whatever decision they made, to stay or leave, we would support it. Some background on the family is the wife had been struggling with severe health problems of her own and advancing dementia. The activity in the room had scared her and she did not understand what was happening. Brittany and I sat with her as she said her goodbyes to the patient. Brittany's compassion offered the family the opportunity to be guilt-free for leaving and allowed them to say goodbye on their terms.
As a seasoned ICU nurse, I can tell you that for some reason some deaths hurt more than others. This one hit me very hard. Brittany recognized that I needed a friend that night and she comforted me and reminded me that we do the profession because we love it. We love the patients and we love each other as family.
Note: This is Brittany’s 2nd DAISY Award!