There has been a patient we've had in our ICU for over two months now. She came in with pnuemonia and progressed into a severe illness called Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome, which can cause severe fibrosis (hardening) of the lungs. She has been on a ventilator the entire time, and had really no hopes to get off of it. She was finally placed on a lung transplant list.
She has always been quite a trooper. The first few weeks on the vent, with all the sedation drugs she was given, she was pretty much goofy as hell, pulling at lines and tubing, trying to get out of bed. But since her mind cleared, she has been "herself" again, a very sweet lady with a great sense of humor. 45 years old. I've been taking care of her most every night I work for two months, joking with her, painting her fingernails and toenails, braiding her hair. She would write notes, and then recently, with a special valve, speak to us and laugh a bit. Oh joy of days, the day she passed a swalling evaluation and was finally allowed coffee with cream (spoon fed, not the big gulps she would prefer) and popcicles.
She's taken a turn for the worse in the last two days, and is totally unresponsive. Her body is shutting down. She will probably be dead by tomorrow.
I'm so lost. I have not been an ICU nurse long, and we have not had a patient in our unit this long since I've been working down there. I know it's never smart to get attached to someone in critical condition. But I feel I'm losing a friend. I always looked forward to going in and talking to her, teasing her and having her stick her tongue out at me. To think of walking into the unit and not have her smile and wave tonight, it is too hard to think of.