disclaimer: long post, read when you have time
thursday marked my last shift of my capstone. i am now finished with my clinical hours of my nursing degree!! i still will have class one day a week and an NCLEX exam to take after i'm done in may, but getting these 210 hours out of the way is a big weight off of my shoulder. and more importantly i can say that i feel confident in taking on a full patient load in critical care.
the last three clinical days i took care of the same patient. he was an older gentlemen but not that old, with a long history of different diseases. what brought him to the hospital this time was respiratory failure. he had a tracheotomy, a feeding tube and was breathing on a ventilator, a common sight in the ICU. but one thing was different about him, he wasn't sedated. he was awake and could communicate with you through mouthing words or writing on his paper pad. and i'll be honest, he liked me. his family that was in the room would tease me about it and he would visibly show appreciation for my care. i liked being his nurse. when i was assigned to him for the third time, i didn't need much report from the night nurse, just a few updates. one of these updates was that the pressure in his lungs was getting worse and the family had decided to take him off of the ventilator today. not a shock, but i thought he would probably last for a few days on his own.
so i did my morning rounds and meds and helped clean him up and put on his glasses, to which he mouthed "thank you very much". he was sleepier and breathing more shallow. i could tell he was letting go now that he knew he would probably not live very long but he was still awake and would respond to simple commands and questions. the throng of family arrived and draped themselves in the yellow gowns required to enter his room. everyone was quiet and spoke in hushed tones. after giving him pain medication to make him comfortable, the doctor turned off the ventilator and no more then 15 min later he was gone. i was in the room and watched the monitor showing his heart beat go from 30 beats per min to 0. when i saw the flat line on the monitor i felt a wave of the spirit and tears filled my eyes not from sadness but from the beauty of changing life almost like childbirth. this living person who i was just talking to was now gone. i wondered if he was looking over his body and at all the family gathered in tears and unity around him. i wondered if he was feeling the freedom from a diseased and broken body. i wondered who was meeting him on the other side waiting to embrace him. i wanted to tell his grieving family that this was not the end for him, that he would live again. that they would see their father, uncle, brother again. i wanted to hand out a bunch of book of mormons at the door as they left!
after all of the family did leave, i went back into the room to prepare his body for the mortuary (which i didn't expect to have to do) i pulled the sheet back from over his face and was filled with emotion again seeing in real life the plan of salvation unfold before me. here lay this man's mortal body that would one day be resurrected perfect and whole through Jesus Christ. i took off his IV's, monitor leads and tracheostomy and helped put him in the body bag. and that was that. i took care of my other patients, housekeeping came to clean the room and everything moved right along just as it should for us.
but this last experience of my nursing education reminded me why i chose nursing and solidified in me a desire to compassionately care for God's children in and out of the healthcare setting. it lit a fire in me to actively share the gospel and spread the good news because i know he lives and through him we all can live again!