My job can be extremely challenging at times. I have seen things that people write books about and things that people shove to the back of their minds for the rest of their lives. When I was hired they asked for one word that would describe my type of nursing and I said "empathetic". I was worried this "skill" of mine would bite me in the ass since I work in critical care. And you know what? It has, more than once. I bring everything home with me. I have dreams and nightmares. I wake up in the middle of the night and want to call the unit to find out how my patients of the shift are doing. I have a difficult time transferring patients and never knowing how their lives turn out. It is rare that a patient contacts us to let us know how they are recovering. It is more often that I just see their obituaries in the paper.
I witnessed something amazing recently. I have seen death present itself in many ways. Sudden and unexpected, long and painful, chosen and planned. There is one patient I will always remember. She knew death wasn't too far off so she reunited with long lost siblings, arranged for all of her family to visit, got all of her affairs in order and even helped write her obituary. She was so calm and accepting of her death. I sat at her bedside after her family went home with tears streaming down my face listening to her story. She knew death wasn't far off and was shocked that it hadn't come during the night. She was ready.
Moments like these make every bad day worth it.