Wednesday, September 25, 2013

To Philip's Nurses

My cousin lost his fight with congenital liver disease post liver transplant last week. He was only 40 years old, married, father of three, highly-educated, and an activist and spokesperson for those with Primary Sclerosing Cholangitis. 

Philip spent his last weeks in an intensive care unit, incredibly critically ill.  He was intubated, on multiple pressors, required continuous renal replacement therapy and plasmapheresis; he made several trips to the OR while in the unit.  If you are a nurse, you do not have to have seen his room to know what it looked like. Amongst critical care nurses, we know that he was considered the sickest of the sick patients in an ICU. 

I do not know the pain of losing a child or a spouse and I don't presume to know what my cousin's mother, wife, or children are feeling.  What I do know is how the nurses who cared for him are feeling.

The nurses who took care of Philip are hurting, they are disappointed, they are sad.  These nurses worked hard to keep him alive, to get him back to his family, back to his life.  They put their hearts and souls into trying to figure out what else to do for him.  They celebrated with his family at every little step forward he made and they held it together when he took a step backward, even though they wanted to scream and cry.  They feel the loss.

Do I know these nurses personally?  No, they are several states away.  But, I know nurses. After Philip died, after they told his family how sorry they were, after they lovingly and compassionately took care of his physical body, they went on to care for the next patient.  They may not have had more than a few hours, even minutes, before being expected to put their heart and soul into the care of another patient, another family.

To these nurses I say thank you for what you did and I am sorry for your loss. 

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