Thursday, August 20, 2009


I sit here in front of the computer and I think maybe this weekend I can write. I will write and purge my soul for the past two weeks have been so full of saddness and joy, tears and laughter. I have so many thoughts from events experienced these past weeks that my mind simply races. Two days into my current work week and I'm exhausted. My patient so critically ill I hardly left the bedside. A coworker frequently asked "what can I do to help you?" as I ran back and forth, titrating medications, calling doctors, assisting with procedures. At least the docs know me well enough that when I say "I need you now" they drop everything and come at a full sprint.

Before I began my shift today I sat in my car in the parking lot and prayed. I asked for strength and compassion because, believe me, when I'm tired and sad, compassion is hard to find. I asked the Lord in some way to encourage me in my day. An hour later my boss handed me a card. It was from the wife of a former patient, he had been transferred to a facility closer to their home and I had said my goodbyes many weeks ago. This card made me cry. His wife had taken time to write a beautiful letter, telling me how much my care of both her husband and her meant. She told me I was one of the family's favorites. I placed that card near my computer terminal so every time I charted I could see it and be reminded why I do what I do. It was affirmation when I needed it most that I do make a difference.

Saturday, August 08, 2009

We Cried

Probably shouldn't be writing. I've ingested 3/4 a bottle of wine so the spelling on this post may be a bit off, thank goodness for spell check. Yeah, so today sucked. Another OEF died. We knew he was going to, he was already brain dead, we were simply waiting for the family to understand and accept it. Three weeks after his arrival they did.

Today we took him to the OR, he wanted to be an organ donor. The family was there in the OR with him when he took his last breath, they held his hands and cupped his face. Amongst all the medical professionals and transplant coordinators there was not a dry eye in that room.

My friend and fellow nurse was his primary caregiver, I was there to help her. We talked today about the patient we had exactly a year ago, same situation, different patient.

I cried on the phone to a friend tonight. He let me ramble and sob and when I slowed, he tried to divert my attention by changing the subject. I wasn't ready, I signed off the telephone by simply saying "I think I need to go cry some more."

And cry I did. Deep wracking sobs that had the puppy curled up at my side. I cried for the family and the friends, his buddies still deployed who's emails were full of encouragement to get better. I cried for the friend who tried so hard to come and see him but distance and finances prohibited him from being at the bedside. I cried for the patient, a young man I only knew through photos.

I cried for my nurse coworker and I cried for myself. For tomorrow aerovacs arrive bringing more gravely wounded.

MS - May you have been carried by the Angels to God's welcoming and loving arms. You will be missed, of this I am positive.

Monday, August 03, 2009


I haven't had to work the past several days, time off earned for good behavior I think. Only now I've found myself at a crossroads. Tomorrow I must return to my job, walk up those steps into the hospital and ultimately into the ICU and I don't want to. See, I am afraid of what I will find when I get there.

We've dealt with death and comatose patients for the past 3 weeks. I've held wives and mothers in my arms while they've cried. I've touched the shoulders of fathers, brothers and commanding officers who stared with tear filled eyes at my patients.

Landstuhl has been holding patients. There was an outbreak of the swine flu in Germany so they put the aeorvacs on hold. Only the most gravely injured have reached us these past 2 weeks. Friday we only received two and they arrived late into the night, long after I had gone. Sunday I have no idea how many came in and I am clueless about those that will arrive tomorrow. Three times a week they come and I dread what I will find when I get there.