Saturday, March 13, 2010

Another Bad One

It isn't often that I get two bad call shifts in the same week. This week was the exception. We're on call for 24 hours over the weekend, once every five to six weeks. Today is my day - I'm technically still on call until 7 tomorrow morning.

My last patient of the day was an emergency case flown in from a smaller hospital. The odds were stacked against her, and we all knew it. She would have known it, too, but she had already suffered a cardiac arrest and had been resuscitated, so she was still unconscious. If she had surgery, she probably wouldn't make it. If she didn't have surgery, she had no chance. There was really no choice.

So, we took her back, hoping for the best. And we worked and we worked and we worked, for hours. And, in the end, her poor little heart gave out. We couldn't save her.

When you lose a patient, even if you haven't cared for the patient for very long, the sadness is visceral. It hits you like a punch in the stomach. Except that the pain from the punch might go away in a few minutes, while the pain from the loss lingers for days or weeks. You go back over everything you did, over and over, wondering if there was anything else you could have done. Wondering if you could have changed the outcome.

I guess my face showed how I felt as we cleaned up the operating room after the case, because one of the nurses said to me, "Terri, you have to accept the fact that you do not have the final say over who lives or who dies!" And I know this. But knowing it doesn't help.

My feet hurt, my back hurts, my head hurts and my heart hurts. I'm going to bed. good night, all.

6 comments:

Heidi D said...

I hurt for you.

I'm sending love and hugs your way. A prayer too. I hope you feel better.

Heidi D said...

I hope that didn't sound corny, I didn't mean it to. I just finished driving two hours to be with Jeff and I'm tired and a bit loopy. Long story, something involving night auditors not coming to work for the last 3 nights and Jeff being the one to fill in. That's after putting in a 10 hour day. I just needed to spend some time with him. So we'll get to see him tomorrow morning and then it's back home in the evening. So, goodnight friend. I hope that sleep will bring you sweet dreams.

Margaret said...

Take care thinking of you,

Daisy said...

Terri, I'm so sorry. I can't imagine having the kind of job that you have. I do know that in spite of your best efforts and the best efforts of everyone you work with, that there will always be some you can't save. We are all lucky to have such caring, dedicated, and hard-working folks as yourself and your co-workers to do the jobs that you do. It takes a very special kind of person to be willing to do those jobs. You make the world a better place. No, you can't save everyone, but you do help many. You make a difference. I hope sleep has helped to ease the pain some for you. Hugs to you.

Lisa-Maladylis said...

Terri what a hard day ! It's such a hard job that just gets you in the heart but they are so lucky to have someone like you that feels so much for the people. Hugs to you and I hope you get some rest and relaxation today

Terri said...

Thank you, everyone, for the kind words, I am feeling better this morning - hopefully won't have a repeat anytime soon!