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Life is Precious

Nursing for six months has definitely opened my eyes into how precious life is, and how quickly it can change, no matter your age.

We have one life, treasure it, embrace it and give it all you’ve got.

I guess there is no denying that nurse-patient relationships are a powerful and real thing. I was always told in university that nurse-patient relationships must be strictly professional and that you shouldn’t get attached to your patients. Of course I am always strictly professional, but I have found it hard to not feel saddened or somewhat concerned when my patient receives a life changing diagnosis or notifying a patient’s family that their loved one has passed away.

So I want to share with you an event that I experienced for the first time.

On 22 July, at 1430 hours*, I took part in my first Code Blue (medical emergency).  
I was nervous, yet eager to help as much as I could to try and save a life.
On 22 July, at 1501 hours*, I had witnessed my first death.
Shock overtook me.

I didn’t know what to think or feel after the time of death was called.

I had to reiterate to myself that the team did everything we could to save him. Just like the movies; I thought this event was meant to have a happy ending. Why didn’t he survive? How could everything come crashing down in just a flicker of a moment? It didn’t make sense to me. The patient was medically cleared to go home the previous day, but unexpectedly the patient deteriorated quickly, resulting in the ending of his life.

I’ll give you a run down on how the night unfolded.

It was a quiet Wednesday* afternoon shift. Everything was just going too smoothly. The patient was just transferred to my ward and needed to go to the toilet. Walking back from the toilet, the patient felt faint. A set of observations were taken and he was hypotensive, with his oxygen saturation undetectable.

A MET call was called at 1400 hours*.

I saw the fear in the patient’s eyes as numerous doctors and nurses rushed to his bedside, giving him the treatment that he needed. I don’t think I will forget that look on his face.

I thought this was going to be like all the other MET calls I have experienced, where the outcome would be a positive one. I was wrong. The patient deteriorated faster than I have ever seen before.

He became unconscious. The change in colour of the patient, from pink to white, was quick. He was having a cardiac arrest.

We commenced CPR immediately. And let me tell you, CPR is definitely more difficult on a person then the several manikins I have previously practiced on time and time again. It is physically hard work and all that went through my mind was wanting this patient to come back.

To see him open his eyes and to take a breath.

He didn’t make it though. The team did absolutely everything we could. I repeated this to myself for the rest of the night. That we did absolutely everything we could.

And with life, comes death. But when that comes? That is truly the part that scares me most, not just for myself, but for my patients, friends and family.

As a nurse, I have seen many patients both young and old receive poor prognoses of their diseases. The amount of patients I have heard be diagnosed with cancer is really heartbreaking. As I build relationships with patients it is really hard not to feel for them and their families. Life is unfair sometimes, but many patients have told me not to worry about them and to just live my life to the absolute full.

While there are many happy endings, seeing patients going home to their families, there is still a fair share of patients who do not make it out of hospital.

Nursing is tough, both mentally and physically.
Nursing is caring for all patients, irrespective of their illness.
Nursing is giving your absolute best, in every situation.
Nursing is knowing that life is the most precious thing, and that we should treasure every moment.

All the best,
Bernadette.

 

*Date and time changed for patient privacy

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