Painful patients

I met her as she ran into room 1 carrying his little gray body…the triage nurse was just ahead of her with scared eyes.   The mom, carrying the little gray body, was not crying.  I wanted to.  I took the little gray body from her, he was heavy and stiff, and laid him on the stretcher.

The triage nurse ran to get more help.  I grabbed the Pedi bag mask and began rescue breathing…I wanted to do chest compressions …but there was nothing to rescue, but I couldn’t not do it…there was no pulse and no activity but asystole on the monitor…he was gone. “Please don’t do that…it’s his time to go and I don’t want him to come back…he has had a bad life, and we have a do not resuscitate order.” The nurse in me began screaming … I’m supposed to save him…do CPR…intubate him…not give up!

I stopped.  I stared at his 4 year old mottled gray body and willed my mouth to speak words of comfort to this young mother~~ I couldnt speak …his eyes were open but vacant.

“What happened?” the doc questioned as he jogged in. “I just found him this way when I went to check on him.” She answered flatly. As the doctor and mother talked about the boy’s chromosome disorder and his pain I unwrapped the blue truck blanket that held his little body.  He was naked.  This bothered me greatly. “Why is he naked?” I asked her. “He hated clothes.” She answered.  My heart hurt. Time of death 8:04am. I asked her if I could clean him up (his body released fluids).  She said yes.  She sat down on the bed next to him but didn’t touch him.

Another woman came in who was crying. The mother got up and went to her.  They hugged.  She asked me to give them a few minutes with him.  I covered him up with a warm blanket and left the room.  I know the warm blanket was useless but it made me feel better.  I went into the bathroom and cried. When I came back into the room the mother told me what funeral home to call and then she and the other woman left. She left him with me.

I unwrapped his little body from the blankets and I gently washed him up.  I cried.  I wanted to close his eyes.  I prayed for him. I put him in a little hospital gown and put his cold, gray and blue body into the body bag, and I again cried as I zipped him in. I went to the nurse’s station, filled with chaos as usual, and I called the funeral home. Security came and took his body.  I felt numb, sad, pissed off and confused.  I tried so hard not to judge the mother but I did.  My heart hurt over this boy~ over the detached last moments she had with him…I did not walk in her shoes and so I knew that I had no business judging…And in that moment I felt God tell me, she has grieved over this child for 4 years…he is with me now.  

I closed my heart, took a deep breath and went into room 3 to start my patient’s IV and draw her blood.  I smiled and introduced myself…

Bobbi McCarthy

About Bobbi McCarthy

Nurse for 23 years right here in Maine, currently in the new Augusta regional hospital as a charge nurse in the ER. Nurse educator for the last 2 years at UMA as adjunct clinical instructor. Wife, mother and grandmother.