Pain II


There is nothing quite like working a night shift at a hospital, and listening to the familiar “ding, ding…code blue..coronary care unit”, only to realize that it is YOUR mother that is arresting at that very moment in time. The feeling of utter helplessness is palpable. There is a sense of disorientation…’where do I run’..’what do I do’…and tasks are performed in slow motion with one’s mind totally absent from the body. I was with her only 3 hours before, having sat with her during my dinner break. The endotracheal tube was out. She was talking, albeit croaking like a toad with laryngitis. Looking pale, small, and more fragile than I could ever imagine, she said ‘if anything happens to me, you girls must stick together’. I thought that she was improving- but as it was, the thought was overly optomistic. I rushed back to CCU at the urging of my colleagues, to find her re-intubated, with twice the number of tubes snaking out from the four corners of her body. I knew how much she had feared this very thing happening again- how claustrophobic the tubes that made her feel to begin with. To see that raw, uncensored panic in her eyes once again was heart wrenching. I felt my clinical self vying for supremacy as I detected the pain etched on her forehead. Morphine drip, midazolam drip- not enough relief. I was a hospice nurse, I knew how to treat pain. I think that I can understand why nurses make the worst relatives of patients, for we have no tolerance for witnessing their suffering.

One comment

  1. chris · June 20, 2007

    i will continue to remember you, your mom, and your family in my prayers Josie. FOrgive me for not aksing you about her tonight when I saw you.

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