Yes, it tears me apart when a patient and his wife get discharged after just being told to go to the beach, spend time with your loved ones because all avenues of treatment have been exhausted and goodbyes are less than a year away, like I did on Friday last week. I shed a few tears of my own with them and hugged them goodbye, really pissed off there wasn't anything else I could do for him, angry that this stupd disease existed.
This stupid disease can scare even the strongest and bravest at any moment, even those with very promising outcomes, like my other patient. He needed 3 cycles of chemo and had tolerated the first cycle just fine, but this second round he was hit with chemo-induced nausea and vomiting (CINV), and it scared him so badly he wanted me to stop his infusion pumps and discharge him at that instant. We talked (and I don't consider myself funny, but for some reason others do and my sense of humor has become an asset in oncology) and laughed, even left the building for a little bit. In the end, he survived his second round of chemotherapy and gave me a huge bear hug before he left the unit to go home upon discharge.
I am always touched by the large and small gestures of cancer patients and their families. It reminds me even for those who I can't help save, perhaps the support and care I gave them helped ease their mind and pain for just one second.
Anyway, here are the letters I received from the family...
"I would like to acknowledge Beth for being such a kind,compassionate and informative nurse. She has provided patient X, who has cancer and is struggling with this, has renewed my hope in our profession. The time, care and true understanding of a pt's needs made me proud to have met her."
and (same family, different person)
"I wanted to thank you for going above and beyond, showing sincere compassion for patient X when he needed it. You are an incredible nurse, and my family is thankful he was in your hands."
and the letter they wrote to my boss...
"Dear (ElizaBeth's Boss),
I wanted to thank you for being kind to patient X, although I know you treat everyone like that-I would just like to recognize your thoughtfulness.
Also your nurse Elizabeth Hxxxx, (I hope I spelled it correctly), showed patient X empathy, warmth, and understanding during a difficult time. Despite having other work to attend to, she took time to destress patient X by walking him outside, which made all the difference. She had to stay late to chart and never complained about it, instead she held patient X's hand and talked with my family. She admitted she is a newer nurse, but one would not be able to tell. Her thoroughness, motivation and skills preceded her. She is your best asset and thought you should know how wonderful one of your own has done.
On behalf of patient X, my family and myself-thank you!"
It was extremely kind of this family and unnecessary for them to recognize me like this and I appreciate their kind words more than they will ever know.