Lunching in La Jolla

The other day I had a lovely lunch with my sister who I see not nearly enough. As she will be moving soon, we are really trying to make more of an effort to get together and do things.

This time it happened to be lunch at The Crab Catcher in La Jolla. With those beautiful views overlooking the water and some excellent food, it was the perfect place to have a nice relaxing lunch and catch up. With food and drink that was to die for, we left feeling very happy relaxed and satisfied.

Hello Crabby Mary

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Then we wandered over to this adorable coffee ship that is a little bit hidden, but none the less one of my favorite places that I have found for coffee so far. Elixir is one of those cute little coffee shops where they make pretty designs in your latte and have adorable little pastries. Where we sat for just a short while and chatted some more before calling it a day to go back home.

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All in all I would say it was a great day and loved spending time with my sister!

~Niki

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Difficult Questions

The other night I had an interesting question come from a patient, I had no idea how to answer that question, so I said I would ask someone and get back to the family member.

A little background on what happened. A patient came up from the ED, who had recently been diagnosed with something that would kill her. So she and her family members came up to my floor as we are the oncology unit and deal with a lot of comfort care patients. The patient seemed to be doing quite fine considering her diagnosis, but what one of her family members asked me was what threw me off guard. She looked me square in the eye and asked me how do I make this kind of phone call. I had never been asked that question and I had no response for it. I excused myself and said I would ask some people and get back to her. So I left the room with my head spinning and asked both my clinical coach that night and the charge nurse. They were both seasoned oncology nurses, and both gave me looks that they didn’t know how to answer that question. The charge nurse said that it was probably best to just relay the information, not sugar coat it, and make sure that the sense of urgency was understood should the patient pass quickly as she very well may have.

I was at a bit of a loss for words, and when someone was looking to me for guidance, I was unsure how to proceed. Has anyone had this experience before? Does anyone have some advice on how to proceed in this type of situation?

 

~Niki

Dealing with Death

When working in a hospital, death is inevitable and unescapable. How does that old saying go…There are 2 things in life you can’t escape, death and taxes…or something to that effect. **There are some graphic details in this so if you would rather not be exposed to that please stop reading now 🙂

In this field that its truly inevitable, especially when working in a hospital…on an oncology unit…that also cares for other end of life patients.

The first patient i ever encountered that had passed on was during a night shift in nursing school. The patient was not mine on this particular night, but several of the other nurses on the unit encouraged me to go in to that room so my experience was not on my own. As  I walked into the room, you could feel the energy was just different. The patient was still laying in the bed the blankets tucked to his/her chin. He/she just looked like he/she was sleeping with the exception that his/her skin had taken on a yellowed waxy appearance. I helped one of the CNAs to prep the patient for transportation downstairs to the morgue. Placing someone into a glorified plastic bag after they have passed seems eerie like there should be more to it than that. We enter the world with people celebrating and anticipating our arrival, it seems like there should be more to the end than tears of loved ones and a body bag, but thats just my outside opinion.

I also accompanied the patient to the morgue where the security guard was a little over zealous and showed me all of the different things stored in the morgue. I did not realize and came to the rude awakening that more than deceased patients were kept in there. Not to go into too much detail, but I was not prepared for biopsies, amputations, and fetuses from fetal demise for any number of reasons, in the room in a cabinet. They were in jars and many in plastic bags that just looked like something you would find in a refrigerator, which made me uncomfortable for many reasons, but mostly because it seemed like they should be in something a little more substantial.

I definitely went home and had to have a couple of cups of soothing tea before I was able to go to sleep that morning. The image also stuck with me longer than I like to admit and I had a few nightmares about it before learning how to cope with it.

I had another experience in nursing school, but this experience was at the VA. After the patient passed he/she was prepared to be brought to the morgue, but at the VA they drape the patient in an American flag, and have a mini ceremony/procession. They ring a bell and announce that a Veteran is leaving as he/she passes through the hall. The medical personnel can move into the hall to show their respect as the patient passes through.

This was a MUCH different experience than my first one. This patient’s passing felt much more like a celebration of the life of this patient and his/her passing. I felt like this was a lovely way to not only honor the patient, but give the family closure. The family not only gets closure from this, but also the staff who have cared for the patient for the many months he has been there.

The important thing to note from all of this, is that different hospitals do different things when it comes to death, and each person deals with it differently. Being respectful of everyones wishes helps family members of patients feel supported. Finding healthy coping mechanisms for healthcare personnel is essential for not feeling burned out.

What are some of your coping mechanisms for dealing with patient deaths? Any other questions comments or concerns? Please leave them in the comments 🙂

~Niki

 

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving all!

Thanksgiving Contest - What Are You Thankful For?

Let’s remember all of those nurses that are hard at work today!

This year, those of us that were working on our unit had set up a  potluck long in advance and will be having a wonderful feast! Dividing up all that work allowed for everyone to contribute and for there to be a lovely feast.

I am grateful and thankful for my family, friends, and to be working on such a wonderful unit where we are family! I am also grateful for the help and guidance from all of the members of my work family during this time of transition from student to working professional! Additionally I am thankful to be healthy and have plenty of food on my table this year.

Any of you out there that have any good stories, or traditions for those working or not on this festive day? Please leave them in the comments.

Happy Thanksgiving all!

~Niki

*Disclaimer,the photo was pulled from google images, I just found it to be festive and appropriate :).