I suppose you could say it was just one of those moments where things hit too close to home.
As most of you know, I'm an RN. I work on a medical floor but we also take hospice patients. I knew I was getting a transfer from the Cardiac Care Unit. What I didn't notice was her diagnosis: Status post sudden cardiac arrest. The same diagnosis my sister had.
Now normally when an ICU nurse calls report to a floor nurse, especially when it's a sad case like this one is, where the patient likely will not live through the night, the actual process of giving report is short and sweet. Not this time, though! This poor nurse! I had so many questions for her! The most common question being "...but why?" Like Leslie, this woman had a normal day at home. In the evening she got sick. Her husband helped her to bed and found her an hour later not breathing and pulseless. EMS called. Intubated and rushed to ER. Her down time was estimated to be about 40 minutes. Leslie's was around 5-10. Big difference when we are talking oxygen to the brain.
Thankfully, this couple had very specific, legal documents stating what their wishes were, and this was NOT her wish. So therefore, she was extubated and sent to me. It was really hard for me. I kept just staring at her. I examined her pupils as I often did Leslie's, except this person didn't make any attempt to track me like Leslie would. When I moved her extremities, she didn't flinch. She was COMPLETELY flaccid. Leslie had more muscle tone. Leslie could swallow. This lady drooled excessively. Leslie's skin was warm and pink. This lady was pale, clammy, and mottled.
Sad, sad, sad. In a sense it makes me so thankful that my sister's outcome wasn't like this poor woman. Leslie has major deficits, but nothing we can't work with (and even laugh at, sometimes!).
But it doesn't stop that nagging question that I just can't shake: WHY. Why her? She had a normal day with her husband before she collaped. Why then? Why with NO warning or while her children are on the other side of the country.
It's comforting to know that other people struggle with the same difficult questions, because sometimes grief can feel so lonely. But there still needs to be more answers.
PLEASE. I encourage you. Walk with me and raise money for heart research. Or just donate. The website is http://miheartwalk.kintera.org/ and my team name is Heart Full of Hope. I urge you. Answers. That's all we want. We want to be able to say "So THAT'S what happened! ....and this is how we can try to prevent it from happening again."
Or you can mail me a check made out to American Heart Association. I beg you. There is no perk for me raising money other than I know it will go towards research to help things like what happened to my sister and this patient to loved ones of yours. I beg you. No amount is too small.
605 St. John