Mother’s Day 2020 was one of the hardest days of my career.
Yes. People that I have cared for that passed before, but not when I was on shift.
My resident was a 75-year-old lady. Who loved to read and listen to Elvis in her spare time. She said that she couldn’t be bothered with any of that TV nonsense and time should be spent educating yourself. She had the most infectious laugh and when she smiled, the whole room smiled with her.
She had a daughter. Not biological but one she gained through marriage and their relationship was one to be envied. I think this is the relationship that all mothers and daughters should base their relationship upon.
Her husband who sadly passed away 8 years ago was a poet of the sort (being that he only wrote poems for her). But she had them all recorded by him and played them in the background while she laid in her bed and began to become weaker.
When she could no longer lift her book, she still listened to his poems.
This woman came to the nursing home due to frailty and the inability to look after herself any longer. She kept as much independence as she could but we helped with the little things.
She was diagnosed with breast cancer and cervical cancer at aged 30 and, as she put it, “had everything taken away”. But that didn’t stop her from finding love and raising her husband’s daughter as her own. She had two strokes in her late 60s and this is what caused her cognitive and physical decline.
The week before mother’s day (15/03/20) she had two strokes in one day.
The GP came out and assessed her and placed her on palliative care. Stating that there was nothing that modern medicine could do to help with her condition. Our only job was to make her comfortable and pain-free.
This is what myself and my team did.
We ensured that a patient on end of life (EOL) care received the best treatment we could give and made sure she was pain-free for her remaining days.
Due to the COVID-19 virus, all visitors to our home had been told to say away due to risk to the residents. An exception had been made for this resident as we knew that these were the last few days her family would ever see her.
When I began my shift I did a walk of the floor to ensure all the residents were present and well. My team and I then began personal care of the residents to ensure that they were clean and fresh for the day. For this particular resident, one other senior staff member and I assisted her with personal care. During this time the resident was mainly asleep, taking small shallow breaths as we assisted with a bed bath and bed change. I checked her observations and could tell she was in pain. I administered morphine sulphate via injection and it appeared to be effective. I rang her daughter to update her on her current status and said I felt she should come in as it was getting closer to the time.
I waited in the room with the resident until her loved one arrived. I help her hand and talked about Elvis and books and poems. She didn’t answer but that didn’t matter. When her daughter arrived she came into the room and looked white as a ghost and burst into tears fearing that she wasn’t there in time for her mother. I reassured her and then left her to spend the vital final moment together.
15 minutes later her buzzer for her room went off and we went and confirmed the resident had passed.
The daughter was crying profusely (as I would be) and thanked us all for making her final months with her mother pain-free and peaceful.
I stayed strong through these moments. But I feel that this death hit m harder than any other. I was there. I performed the last offices. and later that day I took a moment to myself and broke down slightly.
I don’t feel that I am a bad nurse because I mourned for my residents passing. I feel that I gave all I could to make the end of her life bearable and I feel I did a really good job.
I think within a ward setting it is difficult to create a bond with someone. To get to know them and their small quirks. That is why I love my job. I know my residents well. As well as family. And if anyone asked me a question about them I know the answer cause I am invested in their lives.
Mourning my residents passing not only makes a good nurse but it makes a good person.
It shows compassion and empathy.
Hard days make good nurses.