Sensitive Saturday: BROKEN PROMISE 

Nurses often see the same patients in & out of the hospital, (frequent fliers). At times we get attached to them developing a bond. Over a 2 year period, I made a friend. During the course of his illness, we developed a strong bond. I spent lots of time with him while he was hospitalized and would request for him when he was on my floor. He was an older gray headed man, and always alone never with company. He said once he became ill, his friends no longer wanted to be around him. He always had jokes for me and even on stressful days, he would manage to put a smile on my face. He was terminal and at the end of his road.

His last admission, he told me that he knew he was not leaving the hospital. He asked me to promise him that he would not die alone, that I would be at his side. I was having a hellish day but I made that promise. That day, I did all my charting in his room. I would do my rounds as quick as possible and return to him. Every time I entered, he looked weaker and weaker.  Another one of my patients called and I told him that I will be right back. I assisted my patient and rushed back to only find him covered in bloody stool. He vomited, aspirated and died alone. I burst into tears because my friend was gone and I BROKE MY PROMISE to him.

During stressful times like this, management should give a nurse rest break and time to regroup. They don’t,  instead they rush you to wrap the body and have the room cleaned for your next admission. I cried for the rest of my shift, while giving report and driving home. I am crying now while remembering my friend. I hope he forgave me for my BROKEN PROMISE.

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