Week 2 of Oncology

I had a patient that had everything but the kitchen sink wrong. From various psychological and psychosocial issues to an extremely advanced form of cancer to an advanced stage of an autoimmune disorder…I saw it all.

It was interesting to see the social stigma when it came to the autoimmune disorder. Some people refused to enter the room even though there was no bleeding or anything. We talked. The first day this patient was alone. So alone. Growing hypoxic and making no sense. Rambling.
Wasting away.
As a student, I couldn’t do much. The doctors were consulting with each other in the hallway.

So I sat. And we talked.
We talked about family and faith.

They told me how they were normally introverted but I was easy to talk to.

The next day, a complete 180 degree turn had occurred overnight. Where their skin had been dry and cool and blue the first day, it was now warm and pink. Up and eating breakfast with family that finally decided to come in after days of being in the hospital.

After the care had been given and the paperwork done- we sat. And we talked.

Sometimes, that’s all you can do I’ve come to realize.
Sometimes, that’s all that’s needed.

The spouse, one with a history of abuse, causing a ruckus in the hospital from being difficult to please, thanked me for the care I had given. The spouse went back to the bedside and watched the patient sleeping in a chair before opening a book.

The prognosis isn’t good. I don’t want to work in hospice or palliative care.
But I am so thankful there are people who do.
Some of the nurses on that floor are beyond amazing.

The prognosis won’t change.
Yet, I walked away still feeling like I made some sort of difference. Or I had some kind of effect.
I think that’s what counts.

  1. Great post! You did the right thing. Yes, sometimes all we need to do is give someone our time and attention – just talking. Even in surgery, when I’m picking up a patient and chatting with their family. That extra time and care can lift spirits. I’m a believer that if someone feels good going into surgery, the outcomes will be good. It’s the same when they’re on the floor. Keep up the good work!

  2. Please be sure to never forget this lesson.

  3. Thanks you guys.

  4. I’m so happy you’ve realized this – I’ve been on the patient’s side of a similar situation and that’s why I want to be a nurse now.

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