Monday, September 5, 2011

Thankful there wasn't a #8.

When I leave this place today, I will have worked more than 75 hours this past week. It has truly been horrendous. Probably the most intense week I have known as a nurse practitioner. Seven patients died. I had so many serious end-of-life discussions with so many families; held so many crying mothers, fathers, daughters, partners. As I sit here with the past week in review I find that it is a blur to me now. I have trouble remembering the patient names, the families’ faces.

I will be off for a mere 48 hours before I must return to this place and reengage in my work. It’s funny though, the ICU that I walked into last Monday morning is not the ICU that I will walk out of this Monday morning; there are less patients, they are less critical. It’s truly amazing how one week can be so horrendous and the next can be so ordinarily common. The ebb and flow of an ICU can be a fascinating thing. One week is hectic and horrendous and intense and the next is common and easy and of no consequence. A different Attending will walk on today and the insanity that was last week will not necessarily touch the normalcy that is this week.

How easy life goes back to normal.

Yet it really doesn’t. There are seven families who went home this past week and are now facing life in a manner in which they hadn’t anticipated. Their lives will never be the same again and their previous state of normalcy will now morph into something else, something that in time will become familiar, but is so strikingly foreign right now. I wonder how long that transition takes. I wonder if that transition really ever does take.

The Attending for this week just called. I reported off to her, told her of the horrendous week we just had, told her of the good place the ICU is currently in. We laughed about simple things in life. She is sweet. I hope that she has a good week.

…and life goes on.

1 comment:

Phil Sanders said...

Dear Tara,
I'm so proud of you. As your dad and a minister and having dealt with death so many times, I can really understand the emotional toll it takes. Twice in my life, I have had the privilege of performing four funerals within a weekend. Babies, teens, mothers, fathers, grandparents. All hurt, all grieve.

Cry with them, and dry when they leave. Stay strong enough to help the next crisis. Learn to laugh.

your loving dad