Who will nurse our nurses?
I saw a picture of a ER doctor who became so despondent during this crisis she killed herself. A New York city MD she went to work in the midst of this medical deluge and with what seemed to be no end in site, decided to end her life. This woman is every bit as much a victim as anyone who died of this virus, but still I have to wonder, did it really have to come to this? I was a nurse at Duke, and while I was training in the Cardiac Intensive care unit I saw a lot of heartbreak. My preceptor was very kind and caring and at one point when I thought I just couldn’t handle critical care she took me aside and said.” I know this is hard. We get the sickest of the sick, and we lose patients no matter how hard we fight for them. You’re a good nurse, and you hurt because you care.” I will forever be grateful to that woman she helped me get through the rough patches and learned to accept the limitations medicine provided. I wonder who is there to coach, counsel and listen to the nurses who are on the front lines now. I wouldn’t be one bit surprised if many or most will need counseling after this to help them accept the losses, understand that you can only do what you can do and the rest of it is in God’s hands. I propose the retired nurses not needed in other clinical areas get some specialized training to do peer to peer counseling. No one would be more equipped to understand the difficulties and even the occasional bouts of self doubt that come with these losses. I know how I’ve felt when I lost a patient I go over it and over it in my minds eye asking myself did I do everything I could? Could I have done something better, smarter faster or different? It’s tough. Over a career I have racked up more than a few loses I remember all of them with razor accuracy. The memories linger like ghosts in the machine. I have had the chance now to look back with my years, my maturity, and understanding that not everything is up to me, nor should it be. There is nothing tougher than the long silent ride home, trust me I’ve kept it together just long enough to get to my car and once I was safely in my auto, I sobbed uncontrollably. Every nurse I know has done this. What can we do to make that ride easier, the sleepless nights fewer, and support the brothers and sisters I stand with to say you’re not alone.