I’m sorry that the previous shift judged you, a young addict admitted with pericardial effusion. In healthcare, the patients who are addicts are often so needy. You were one of those, pain impossible to control, cursing and demanding to smoke. You smoked in your room and got caught. Then your girlfriend shot up junk in your IV and it blew. It took the entire line team to start another one on your abused viens. The patience limit of the previous nurse had reached critical mass. You tried your best to put up a wall with me, I was just another nurse.
I walked into your room, looked you square in the eye as I gave you some PRN narcotics, “You are an addict. I’m not stupid and don’t deny it. But, It’s not my job to question if you’re really in pain. Ask and you will receive. I’m not your sponsor, a cop, or your judge and jury. All I ask is you to respect me in return and be honest with me. Stop shooting up in your IV, whatever crap you keep shooting up crystallizes and I don’t want to kick your girlfriend out and start another one. My only other request is stop asking to smoke. It’s not happening. I’m going to take care of you, I promise. But, I need your help. Please work with me.”
You stared at me for a couple of seconds as your girlfriend slinked out of the room, I told her when she returned to leave her purse in the waiting room. Slowly you started talking while I assessed you. You even laughed. While you were relaxed and I was actually able to get a good assessment on you. You told me about your pregnant ex and the little girl she was carrying in the waiting room. How you wanted to sober up for her. Then you paused and your youth cracked your voice, “I’m dying and I’m scared”
I don’t know if you had feelings of impending doom, or if I couldn’t hide the the fallen look on my face as I suspected Beck’s Triad. I didn’t tell you, “You’ll be fine.” because I don’t lie. I excused myself and quickly pushed the crash cart outside your room as I paged your doctor and the house supervisor. Several minutes later, you went into tamponade. They transferred you to the CVICU next door.
You coded immediately upon transfer. They sent me over to help, you saw me and screamed my name. The physician asked me to leave and I complied. You were conscious while they worked on you and I could hear through the thin walls as you begged them to let me come back. You wanted me to hold your hand, you were scared. This was not possible, there was no room without breaking the sterile field. You died crying for me, like I was some kind of miracle worker. You thought I was going to do something spectacular just because I did my job. Your Mother thanked me later, just because I was nice. They named your daughter after me.
I cried guilty tears for you and I cried each time your Mother came to see me. I didn’t deserve her devotion.
I was doing my job.