Saturday, December 17, 2005


I have experienced death in the Emergency Department before….

Things happen quickly in the E.D. and unfortunately, I was upstairs orienting a new volunteer when this patient arrived. My clinical instructor had apparently been calling me on the intercom to assist with chest compressions. By the time I returned, however, the patient was already in one of the little suture rooms, waiting to be bagged.

I entered the lonely room. The walls, the gurney, the sheet seemed so white, in retrospect. I pulled back the sheet.

…but not yet of someone younger then myself.

She is pretty, even with her cold grey skin and her drying half-opened eyes. It seems inappropriate that she not be breathing; that tube in her mouth does not belong there. She had died of a drug overdose but she does not have the look of the habitual user. I see no marks on her arms; she has all her teeth; her eyes do not have the look of one tired of life. This is a mistake. She was not yet finished.

To think, just yesterday she had been walking, talking and maybe even laughing. Could she have known it was for the last time? Can any of us?

And how strange it feels to know of her demise before those that love her do. How lonely, lying here, no one yet aware of her absence. Imagining the faces of her family, standing where I am now, is difficult.

But her sweet face will stay with me for a while.


Blogger David said...

This post is a well-written thoughtful post full of passion and humanity. I have been there but have not found the words to express it so well.

After being a nurse now for a while and seeing a thing or two, it never strikes me as "old hat" when I participate in a patients death or a families grief. It comes with living, the more you do the greater the suffering it seems to me.

There is an encouraging part of all of this after all. Being a nurse is such a privilege. Who would have thought that we would be part of these people’s most sacred things? When you make a difference in a family by just being there in your humanity when someone is dying then you will understand what it means to be truly alive as a nurse.

It is such a gift - this life of ours and so tenuous. Struggle on and never forget that you are blessed and a blessing to be in the position that you are in these families lives.

Keep up the good effort in your studies but never forget the compassion that comes with just being human. Thank you for the reminder which you put so eloquently.

Your coliege.

1/05/2006 10:41 PM  
Anonymous David Godden said...

Just as a follow up to my comment here is my web site: or

Talk to you all soon.

1/05/2006 10:48 PM  
Blogger Mike said...

I just visited your site, David. I may yet use it as a resource. I figure after four or five years as an RN, it will be time to move up. Nurse Anesthetist or Nurse Practitioner are two options I am considering.

Thanks for the comment, and thanks for 'blogrolling' Nightingale!


1/07/2006 12:48 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

That was so sad Mike. But I'm glad I read it.

3/06/2009 1:03 PM  

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