3Cs: Coffee, Children, and Cancer

A new grad turned pediatric oncology nurses' jump into the fray…

Footprints on My Stethoscope

on December 18, 2012

Image Credit: http://bigfouroh.blogspot.com

My patient was dying. Her skin was becoming increasingly mottled. Cheyne-Stokes respirations had set in. I tried to remain calm as I listened to her lungs and twenty, thirty seconds would go by without a single breath. Congestion was building up in her airways. It was hard to watch.

My charge nurse checked in with me frequently, asking if I was okay. I was not. I shed my own tears in that room as I watched my patient dance in and out of lucidness, embracing family members, kissing staff on the hand before—as if a switch had been flipped—slipping back into a restless state of confusion and agitation that only versed could soothe. Yes, I was losing a patient—but the family—the family was losing so much more. A daughter, a sister, a niece, a cousin, a friend…

What I was dealing with was nothing in comparison to what they had to endure. I had to keep it together in order to support them. I suppose that this is one of the parts of nursing that comes with time, but how can one ever get used to…this?

We changed her into a red shirt. She’d been wearing a pink one that seemed to have appeared out of nowhere—it wasn’t hers. She hated pink; her favorite color was red. These are the things that you learn when you’re up with your patient at 2am watching Cupcake Wars.

Her family whispered sweet everythings into her ear. “It’s okay…” “You don’t have to be afraid…”

A few days later she was gone. To a place where she could sing and dance and drive again. To a place where she could watch the Phillies play from the best seat in the house. To a place without pain and—without cancer. What a great place that must be…

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