A Letter to the Family of My ICU Patient

Working in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) is an experience that can’t quite be put into words. It’s fast-paced, intense, and the stress of some situations can even occasionally make my own heart rate go up as high as one of our trauma patients.

Some people love us. Some people hate us. I can promise you that you do not want to be a patient in my unit. If you are then that means you’re really sick. But I can also promise you that if you end up here you will get stellar care by a team of the best health care providers available.

Often times we may act a little wacky though. We may seem rude at times. Maybe you catch us acting totally inappropriate for the situation at hand. Maybe you’ve even thought, “how can they act that way with all this going on with my family member?”

Well, we have our reasons. Following is a letter to the families of ICU patients everywhere.

Dear Disenchanted Family Member of My ICU Patient,

So you walked in to me singing a song out loud as I hung that IV medicine, huh? You were a little bewildered, and thought, “Is that from the Sound of Music? Why is she so inappropriately jolly considering my dad has a tube down his throat?!”

First off, it is the Sound of Music. After all, these are a few of my favorite things.

But seriously, I’m not singing for my own satisfaction. What you don’t realize is I’m singing to calm my nerves, to keep myself relaxed. Your dad almost died before I let you back. I’m concerned for him, but I don’t want you to see that on my face. I don’t want you to worry about him. That’s my job. I just want you to love him.

I know you just heard us laughing and cracking a joke in the hall. I get it. You don’t see anything funny with your mom being confined to that bed, attached to all those monitors.

I understand. I do. I hope you can understand that while you were waiting outside unaware we saved the young woman next door. She couldn’t breathe. Now she can. We didn’t think we’d get the breathing tube down in time…

We also restarted the heart of the man across the hall. We shocked him so many times, and I actually broke his ribs. Just when we were afraid it wouldn’t restart, it did.

The patient next door to him wasn’t so lucky. We tried. I begged God, but she went anyway. I held her daughter and let her cry in my hair for twenty minutes.

Some times we have to laugh. It’s the only thing we know to do. We’re afraid if we cry, we won’t be able to stop.

I’m really sorry if I seemed short with you when you came in to visit. I know you thought I was being rude, and I know that once outside again you complained about me, saying “she must have wanted a break instead of taking time to talk to me!”

No. I won’t get a break today. I wasn’t trying to be rude. I was focused on the change I just noticed on your dad’s EKG. I was wondering what I could try next when his blood pressure plummets again. You see, I’m giving the maximum amount of all those drugs you see hanging. I know you’re not ready to say goodbye. I’m not ready to give up. That distracts me sometimes and makes me a less than perfect conversationalist.

I want you to know that when I see your mom in this condition I feel your pain. I think of my own mom who has passed away. When their conditions mirror each other, so similar in presentation, it’s like peeling the scab off my grief. I don’t let you see that, but I choke back my own tears while you cry.

Oh dear mom, as you try to maintain your composure while your child remains unresponsive, I have to fight to keep from sobbing all over your shirt while I hug you. Your plight is a very real confrontation of the frailty of our children. I don’t like it as a mother. I will sweat blood to fight for your baby’s life, no matter the age. I know it could be mine just as easy.

My dear sir, as you cry over your ailing spouse, I’m sorry that I have to walk away. I’m sorry I can’t be stronger for you. For a moment I place myself in your shoes. I imagine my spouse laying there, and I grieve with you. Then I get back on the horse and I fight for your bride. I just wanted you to know that.

My singing, dancing, laughing behavior might make you think I’m indifferent. Or my distraction and firmly set expression might make you think I don’t care.

But I do.

What you don’t see is when I pull into my driveway at the end of the night after my long shift has ended. Often times I put my car into park and I cry. All the stress of fighting for them, all the grief pushed away, all the emotions finally have time and catch up to me. I don’t sing or laugh. I weep.

Then I wipe my eyes and go inside. I hug my babies a little tighter. I hold my spouse a little closer. Then I go to bed early so I can come back in the morning and fight another day.

I just wanted you to know.

Sincerely,

Your ICU Nurse

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Comments

      • Kelly says

        This is an amazingly written and accurate post, and a claim to ICU nurses ! I feel the exact same way as a PICU nurse. Thank you for writing this!

        • Nancy Brouse says

          Precious Sister,
          I don’t tell you often enough how very proud I am of you!!! God has so…….. put you where you are, and I know with all my heart that you have done amazing things- Keeping many of them alive. I Love You Kelly- God Bless You!!!
          Love Nancy Kay

          • Karen Grant says

            Nancy, your response to this “letter” caught my eye….my paternal grandmother was a Brouse!! Small world, indeed!

        • amy says

          Great letter. It also applies to us who work in the ED. I do cry, but families you don’t see it. We’re here for you. We feel for you. I come to work everyday because I love what I do.

      • laurie says

        After 50 years of nursing, the last 15 as a Hospice home care nurse, now retired, many times I said, “if you didn’t laugh, you would be crying all the time.” Blessings to all the nurses out there putting their hearts on the line all the time! God will have a special star for your crown.

      • Pqula says

        Love the letter you wrote. I am an LPN and I do get attached to a lot of my patients. I have been an LPN for 40 years and have I have been ableto the words together to say what you did. My daughter passed away on 9-25-2012, The nurses in ICU were great. My daughter was 31 when she died. In 2010, my daughter had 2 cardiac arrests and was told she wouldn’t make it through the night. She lived for 2 and 1/2 years and I appreciate all of the nurses who took such good care of her so I could have that extra 2 1/2 years with her.

      • says

        Thank you for this. As a paramedic, families often see us as not caring because we don’t talk to them as much as they would like. What they don’t understand is that we are busy trying to save their loved one’s life. So if we seem rude, please try and understand that while we know you are worried about your loved one, we are trying to save them.

      • Coleen says

        A friend posted this on Facebook and it touched me very deeply. My son had been sick with an IPEX-like illness for all of his 11 years. We were called ‘frequent flyers’ (one year he put in 168 days). The support from extended family and friends got thinner and thinner as no clear resolution presented itself – no clear diagnosis even for most of the time. The nurses were our lifelines – the emotional, educational, physical and spiritual support they so freely gave healed the whole family. It would amaze me how they could come out of a deathly ill cancer patient’s room, wash their hands and walk into the next room with as bright smile on their face. My son was always treated like he was the most important patient in the hospital – as was everyone. I was humbled by the long hours the staff put in and yet never seemed to tire. They knew when to play (syringe-gun water fights, fart machines, …) along with the more serious tasks. They monitored all our hearts with more than medical machines. They were our ‘Last Leaf’, giving us hope when all seemed to be lost. It was more than a job, they were laying down their lives for us so that we could heal. My son had a BMT three years ago and is delightful teenager now that has not been sick since. But we really miss the wonderful nursing staff that became such dear friends. Thank you all for the gifts you give.

        • brieann.rn@gmail.com says

          Thank you so much for commenting and sharing your personal story! It’s wonderful! God bless you and your precious family.

      • kerry Webster says

        Its not about you…..or me…I have had as much if not more experience ….disagree completely ..YES…we all experience the stress and emotions but the CRUX of being a nurse. Is being caring and sensitive NOT being a martyr looking for praise

        • brieann.rn@gmail.com says

          I’m very sorry you feel this way. But just to get it straight, the only martyrdom I would be a part of is for Christ. Not the public. So I’m afraid you’re off the mark. But thank you for sharing your opinion.

          • Mary says

            You missed the point of the letter. I am a registered respiratory therapist, and we take care of all the patients on the ventilators and answer ALL the codes- when someone’s heart stops or they stop breathing. It is a very stressful job, but one to which I have dedicated myself. The nurse was explaining that to deal with the stress we might be making jokes as we work as a well oiled machine to help this person live and return to their family. To someone walking up and witnessing our behavior, without understanding this might be the third or fourth time we have coded this patient tonight, it looks very callous, while really it a method of coping , so that we don’t burn out from losing patients. I have a special respect for oncology/hospice nurses because they lose ALL their patients
            But they know they have made their end of life the best it could be!.

        • Lee says

          I don’t believe that this article is screaming, “praise me.” Period. This article is stating conflicting stresses between nursing staff and families. In my unit we have a saying, “You laugh or you cry.” If anything this article is refreshing. As far as I am concerned, this is caring and sensitive. It’s not only that but apologetic to the way it simply is. The singing to keep from crying is a simple defense mechanism to do your best to “save face” infront of the family. The best thing you can do is look fearless and light hearted Like everything is ok. It causes less concern. We have so many families that compliment our ICU’s for making them feel at home and secure- even in the worst of times. I am actually going to post this in my units. I feel there are little gems all throughout this article that will help manage faitigue amongst my coworkers. Thank you for this article, it’s simply amazing.

      • Hugh MacLeod says

        Thany-you. Its always the things we don’t know and understand that perpetuates the disconnect. Healthcare is a touch business.. Those that provide care are human, and possess the same emotions, stresses, and uncertainties as those who receive care. I am the CEO of the Canadian Patient Safety Institute, would love to interview for an essay. Cheers

      • nadoicurn says

        Thanks… I thought I was the only one feeling like this… a big heart felt hug for you and all of those whom will come back tomorrow for some more!!
        I work in ICU at a large center in London, Ontario. Canada
        yesterday was the last day of my rotation.. as I was giving report off to my replacement nurse.. my patient went into v-fib for the third time on that day..this man is too young.. we ran several codes on him and he kept coming back to life .. we almost gave up a couple of times..the parents happened to just walk in on the third arrest and did not know the situation.. when the 20+ staff in the room saw the family… we thaough “those parents look so young” and they may loose thir son in the next 5 minutes__the code was already at 45 minutes—no option were left.. running out of drugs to give, we called for another arrest cart and exhausted that one too..
        at 65 minutes, the consultant ( of muslim believes) —-asked everyone in the room, can someone give any ideas?? please! anybody!
        I being the nurse for that patient..stated Dr. XXXX it is now 70 minutes .. we need to call it!.. the doctor…is our best consultant.. stated ok guys this kid is too young to just let him go!! lets start all over , any ideas..again I statd it has been 80 minutes ,,, lets stop.. you could see the tears in every one as I held mine inside and looked at his mom not knowing what to say…. the RT that was doing compressions asked for relief and then I gave my arrest record sheet to someone else and started doing compressions.. I while doing compressions, felt his ribs cracking , looked at the doctor and said quietly “this is futile–he has passed away… the consultant stated ” stop, time of death 2045 hours..
        then in front of 20+ staff our muslim doctor and holding the patients hand went onto his knees and stated..”lord whomever you are to this child… keep him in your heart and bring him to you, and as damaged as he is from us trying to help him..we tried our best! but you must want him more that we can understand!
        every one of us … had teers on our face.. you could hear nothing but all staff sobbing.. not a dry face.. all in cilence! we just looked at each other and then just looked at the floor–all defeated…now tie to go home. I went up to the parents and said I am really sorry we could not save him.. mom looked at me and said ,, I saw what you did!! all of you are going to heaven..
        as I afterwards was going home… got a few pats on the back.. and got some hugs from my peers… time to go home and pretend.. it is all ok….don’t take it home.. got to play with the kids before bed time,, and then walk the dog..
        today iam so sad,but i wil be back tomorrow!

        • brieann.rn@gmail.com says

          God bless you! Thank you so much for commenting and sharing your personal story. It brought tears to my eyes as I felt like I was there with you. We cannot always understand the “why” but we can know the “who.” He who holds us all in the palm of His hand and has nothing but good intentioned for us all. He knew that young man needed to come home. It doesn’t make it easy, but it does make it bearable. Thank you again.

      • says

        I have been a nurse for 41 years in April, I am still working! I am an OR nurse, WELL SAID!! I know we cant follow our patients to much , but I pray for them, Just to help me get through, the hard spots! I know other people dont understand,like our families,
        WELL SAID!! Thank you for your letter!!!

      • Cori hartley Ferguson says

        After spending 10 years in ICU I HAVE NEVER HEARD ANYTHING closer to the truth that we nurses feel!

    • karen says

      I am not a nurse but when my father in law passed in the icu I was very impressed with the way the nurses acted if he was a family member. they prayed with us and they cried with us. you are very special people. keep up the good work. keep smiling!

        • says

          I don’t know which hospital you are in, but I have been in the ICU on many occasions I have heart problems. Started age 34 and I was put into ICU for the first time. I have to say it was good to hear,see the nurses trying to laugh and enjoy. The nurses I have had were always passionate and supportive to me and my young daughter (who was only 10 yrs old and terrified her only parent was going to die. I wish more people would realize nurses are more our lifelines than even the doctors that treat us. Think about it when your in the hospital and you ring that buzzer who comes for you and who takes care of your needs. Works to get rid of your pain, fights with the doctor if they aren’t doing enough to get rid of your pain. Who cleans you when you soil yourself or vomit. The answer is the nurses. You don’t see the docs coming in to do any of this.In the ICU we are privileged to receive one on one. Very recently my mother passed away. I took her to the hospital becuase of a simple infection, they had to do emergency surgery on her next day she died, we dont know why. The nurse she had was outstanding. Before mom was even out of surgery her nurse came out to speak to us and introduce herself, we didn’t even know if mom would make it through the surgery but her nurse was nothing but positive and sensitive to us. she also held my daughter and I while we cried and cried in her arms and hair. She helped explain to my daughter and helped her when I said no more surgery no more measures. My daughter wanted us to fight more ,as did I, but we weren’t fighting for my mom anymore we were just prolonging the pain and the docs were only wanting to do surgery to find out why she was dying not to stop her from dying.
          Anyway I agree with you, you do whatever you have to do to get through your shift and to be the extraordinary wonderful person/nurse that you are. Thank you so much to you and to all the wonderful Nurses who keep us alive

    • Susan says

      After over 20 yrs as an ICU nurse, I can relate to every one of those situations. You write well, and so the lay person can understand. Thank you for your insight and for taking the time and energy spent sharing it.

      God bless you, Nurse

    • Karry Lisle says

      Bless you and your family and all the professionals in your line of work. I have been there while family members experience many nurses care so elequently and gentle. I am forever thankful and for the singing as it brings peace and joy to others. You are an angel of God. Hugs Karry Lisle

    • Libby Greene says

      Beth, I know that you are that kind of nurse. I know you as a person and no one could be any better at their job than you. I know you checked on my brother, and I never thanked you for that. Thank you now. Sorry it took me so long. You are a wonderful person at work and at home.

    • Harriet Panning says

      i worked i ICU for 8 years and i loved it for the most part. i learned a lot. it wasn’t easy but to get very ill patients into the unit and be assigned to them was a job that always was a challenge! i have experienced some very difficult events and we never gave up on anyone.i felt the staff i worked with were absolutely the best nurses i ever knew and they were so sharp, on the ball, very attentive, and they still showed the patient that they cared and could always give the best care there was. we had to find some humor at times just to help us make us relax a little when things were very hectic. the families of our patients were always thankful for the care we were giving. even to hear a big thank you if their loved one could not be saved was one of the things i always will remember. our doctors were great and we felt they trusted us and they gave us positive responses frequently. being a nurse is not an easy job–and ICU is really a challenge but i am so glad for what i learned there. listening to all the buzzers and machines , etc. would be a constant thing the whole shift everyday. but it was so very good to actually be able to transfer a patient out to the floor when they became stable and actually survived some very serious things. that was the the best part–to have their family happy and relieved to have their loved one back to them. i will never forget my experience i got, the staff and the patients. it was difficult but i loved it.

    • Forever greatful says

      God will bless you for loving others you don’t
      know and may never even see again so passionately, with such courage.
      Sincerely
      Forever greatful

    • says

      Dear ICU Nurse, I spent a great deal of time with my niece last week in an ICU unit. My sister had passed away and when my niece was told her response was very bland. It turned out that she has a brain tumor. The kindness and dedication that everyone in ICU was so wonderful, the prayers that were said were not only for us, but also for you. Thank you for what you do, you can’t save everyone, but those of us who have seen you at work know you try and know you feel. Bless you.

    • dawn says

      wow– I am a now retired ER nurse of 23 years, and that pretty much sums it all up….Looking back, I don’t see how we did it!! A beautiful, descriptive letter on what it feels like, thank you.. sometimes you feel alone with all that you had to cope with in a
      high stress environment….

    • kathleen says

      One Nurse to another, I hear you and I concur. Nurses are wonderful people, one of God’s chosen ones I do believe. Thanks for expressing the way it really is.

    • MsNoah says

      I have been a patient and have loved one in ICU. As a patient, it was wonderful to hear someone singing, humming or low whistling instead of monitors or machinery. I have endured many surgeries and am an awesome patient, if I do say so myself. Don’t these people realize you may not be able to answer their questions out of liability? How would they like to be in a country with no nurses? Appreciate the fact you have a person who is willing to do the job you probably wouldn’t.

    • Cori hartley Ferguson says

      After spending 10 years in ICU I HAVE NEVER HEARD ANYTHING closer to the truth that we nurses feel!

  1. Falon says

    OMJesus! Ok. So after my night and to come home, lay in bed and cry because of my night and read this….you are so awesome and I love every single loving, witty, and silly part of you! You’re an awesome nurse and it truly shows! Thank u!

    • brieann.rn@gmail.com says

      Thank you my friend. You are doing great. It’s not an easy calling. Never stop crying and never be ashamed of your emotional frailty. It makes for an awesome, compassionate nurse.

    • brieann.rn@gmail.com says

      Thank you so much! We make a great team in health care practice. Thanks for reading. Feel free to share any time.

    • PZENDAR @YAHOO.COM says

      MY DAUGHTER IS A ICU NURSE, NOW I KNOW WHAT SHE MEANS WHEN SHE SAYS HER DAY WAS HORRIBLE. I THINK ALL NURSES DESERVE A STANDING OVATION.

      LOVE , MOM

      • norma says

        I am a retired RN and want to thank you for the letter you wrote. There was a time on a pediatric unit when 2 of our babies died and it was the most horrible night of my life. I spent the night in tears.

        • brieann.rn@gmail.com says

          Thank you for commenting. I understand. Some days are so hard, but then some days are so rewarding. Thanks again.

  2. Joan says

    This was so true of me. But there were times that I cried with the family. I just could not hold it in. Thanks for posting.

  3. Sondra says

    BRIE, WHAT A GREAT BLOG, I UNDERSTAND EVERYTHING WILL ALWAYS REMEMBER U SINGING AT 5 O’CLOCK TO GIVE GIVE US ALL THE STRENGTH TO GET THRU WITH OUR SHIFT LOVE YA GIRL KEEP UP THE GREAT WORK!!

  4. Tracy Petry says

    It is something I remember from when my father passed away…coming out from behind the curtain that was around the bed he lay on and the first thing I heard was a laugh…three of us in tears and two others just in shock and this person was laughing! I wanted to slap her! Then she got called to help with someone else…even in my state I was the one who got the slap because I then understood. I then listened to my mother tell me all that had been done enroute in the ambulance etc. Thank you to those who do this day after day…not that thank you will ever be enough.

    • brieann.rn@gmail.com says

      Thank you so much for your comment. It is real people like yourself that drive us to do the best we can each day.
      Thank you again. God bless you and your family.

  5. Loring says

    When my grandmother passed away 5 years ago from a stroke, the ICU staff was the greatest. Making the decision to remove the machines was the hardest thing we have had to do and the nurse was so good to remove everything and get her cleaned up before letting us come back to stay with her until she passed away. They let us stay as long as we needed. I thank you all for all the hard work you do and say bless you!

    • brieann.rn@gmail.com says

      Thank you so much for your comment. I’m very glad your experience, even at such a difficult time, was positive. Helping a family through such a difficult time is rewarding to me. I hope that doesn’t sound strange. Aside from ICU, I’ve also been a Hospice nurse. It makes me feel good to offer comfort when it is so desperately needed. Bless you :)

      • Tracy says

        I have been in the medical profession for 20+ years 17 yrs in the ER, so I totally get this… You mentioned you were a hospice nurse at one time and I have to say, hospice nurses have a special place in heaven! To take on the task of comforting the dying and their families day after day, everyday, after the fight is over and acceptance is the goal…. GOD BLESS THEM ALL!!

  6. Heather Brand says

    Thank you for your post “A Letter to the Family of My ICU Patient” As an critical care nurse for over 15 years, I have adapted these exact coping skills and I appreciate someone being able to explain them to the patient’s families we care for! Hats off to you!

  7. Lisa says

    So true! ICU team works hard and handling stress is very important. Laughter is a must even though it seems rude, great explanation in this letter!!
    Your Respiratory Therapist – Lisa C. RRT

  8. says

    This letter states all that I and. My patients have faced over the twenty years of ICU & CCU . Thank you for writing in may times mine and others went home with sadden hearts.

  9. Tammy Commander RN says

    Thank you for the post. I have been a critical care nurse for ten years. Reading you blog I thought OMG someone has tapped into my brain and stole my thoughts. It is a hard job knowing that this life is in your hands. Its frustrating when you have given all 200% and its still not enough. I work with heart patients post op surgery and in the cviccu. I had to care for a dear friend and coworker 3 yes ago. She was my only patient that day. She had been to surgery for a tear in her artoa. 12 hours I worked on her titrating multiple drips and giving blood product after blood product. Checking labs to see if we were closer to getting her coags back to normal to help stop the bleeding. At the end of my shift it looked as if she had turned the corner. I was tired and my head hurt. I had not ate or drank in fear of having to leave her side to use the bathroom. I hugged her husband and two children and went home. 3 hours later I received a call she had coded and died. I was angry cause I have given everything in me and she didn’t make it. I was hurt cause I felt like I had let her family down. Her family embraced me and we grieved together. We still miss Sara at work. She was an awesome nurse herself. I felt like I still had so much to learn from her. I love what I do and can’t imagine doing anything else.

    • brieann.rn@gmail.com says

      Thank you so much Tammy. I know where you’re coming from with the specialty area. While I wrote about the ICU, I specifically work surgical ICU so I too recover open heart patients, among other major/emergent surgeries and traumas. I went through the past two days what you describe, but thankfully not with a friend as a patient. How hard! Right now my calves are aching. Thanks again.

  10. Andrea says

    Thanks for the explanation about how these things help you to stay positive and focused. Makes a lot of sense!

    However, some of these items might be completely eliminated through better communication with the patient’s family. “I was focused on the change I just noticed on your dad’s EKG. I was wondering what I could try next when his blood pressure plummets again. You see, I’m giving the maximum amount of all those drugs you see hanging.” Maybe just explaining that might help? Some people may not want to know the details, but as someone who had to practically beg for these details when my MIL was in the ICU, it would have made me look much more favorably on the nursing staff if they would have just been up front about things. Not to mention that I got different and conflicting reports from each nurse who took care of her.

    And then there was the time when two of her nurses walked out the door to lunch (they said as much) and acted all pissy when I wanted to ask a few questions before they left since we had just arrived for our daily visit…after a 2 hour drive…yes, we drove 4 hours a day to be with her for a couple of hours and talk to the staff. They were well aware of this fact, too.

    So forgive me if I have a less than favorable attitude toward these people. Thankfully we have not had any other experiences with the ICU since then, and I do realize each nurse is their own person, but consider the family’s experiences with your co-workers before you justify your actions.

    I get that you care about your patients, I get it, I was raised by an RN who worked in hospice. But the family’s experience can help the patient, too, just by them being calmer and more confident and satisfied by the care their loved one is getting.

    • brieann.rn@gmail.com says

      Thanks for the comment. I’m so glad that I personally keep my families up to date and the majority of the time have such favorable relationships with them. Sorry it wasn’t that way for you.

    • llwprn says

      I agree that communication is necessary. That being said, it is a two way street. I can’t tell you how many times I stop what I’m doing to answer a call from one loving family member after another. It would help us if you could communicate with each other as well. Every call takes us away from our patients. We are already pressed for time and sometimes do not get lunch breaks or even bathroom breaks.
      And please be patient with the staff if they do not stop to answer all your questions as soon as you arrive. You stated you would stay for 2 hours; could your questions have been answered after the nurse returned from her break? They are really very rare in our field.
      You see, nurses work weekends, holidays, birthdays, anniversaries, etc. . . for your loved ones. Is it too much to ask for a 30 minute lunch break once in a while?

    • Dana says

      Andrea,
      If you were the first visitor/family memer for the day, I could see you being upset. However, if you are the 5th, 10th or 15th visitor/family member wanting the same information, you need to understand we are giving the same to all those others. This is why I request the family to designate 1 person to get information. Each time we stop to update everyone entering the room, they are taking away from the care we are giving to others. You also need to know that when we go to lunch, that is our only break from the unit. We hardly ever get those 15 minute breaks the law says we are suppose to get; because we are busy taking care of patients and family members. Yes you just arrived, but we got to work around 0630 or 0700; and it maybe 1400 now and we still have 5 hrs to go. You may have driven 2 hrs, but it’s the only time we may be able to get a lunch in(if we are lucky) because every minute counts.
      Seems like you needed to be talking to the doctor to get information. You have to realize, we are limited to how much information we can give out; unless the doctor has discussed it with you already. We don’t interpret test results or read radiology films, nor do we interpret their results once dictated.

    • Cindy says

      Andrea,

      It’s disappointing that you have a less than favorable attitude toward the people that cared for and possibly saved your loved one. But as others stated, we need to get away to refresh ourselves and save our own sanity as well. After 25 years in the ICU, I cannot begin to say how many times I have been pulled away from my patient’s bedside to explain his/her status to someone on the phone only to find out they on they way to the hospital or even in the parking ramp. Or how many minutes/hours I spend on the phone with various family members calling in wanting information when I really should be with that patient and how angry that person becomes when I ask them to call the main spokesperson because I need to care for the patient. It’s really about remembering who we are really there to care for and what the priorities need to be on both sides.

    • Dianne says

      First of all, I didn’t take this as a “justification of actions” for this wonderful ICU nurse. More of a “clarification”. I too have felt as you have felt on plenty of occasions; even once (as a pharmacist I can’t help it) checking the dosages and the EKG’s readings and being told I wasn’t allowed to do that. But there is something called Privacy Laws that sometimes come into play also. I know that sounds so cold hearted to even say but sometimes we are not at will to give family members information. As far as two nurses saying they were going to lunch, kudos for them having to be able to. They only said it out loud so that everyone knew to speak to the nurses that were still there instead to get the latest updates. It is very hard not to want to get all the answers and not get them. But unfortunately sometimes that is not possible. Next time be sure you have the legal right to know everything and get to know the nursing staff nicely instead of making it seem you think you are the only one they should be worried about. A little humble attitude goes a long way. Especially with overworked, stressed and busy healthcare personnel whose main objective unfortunately is not YOU but your loved one.

      • says

        way to go Diane Well said some of these people if they are so worried about their loved ones than should be just as worried about their caretakers because if they are tired or not well or hungry then as you said they can’t take care of the person they are supposed to be caring for. I know i have commented quite a bit but I get really really pissed off with selfish people or people seem to like to look for problems

    • says

      I think you need to reread because Bri said that she told the families this. Yes you drove 2 hours to see your family member, maybe you should have scheduled your arrival time a little before the nurses went on their lunch. I am afraid you make it sound a bit like how dare they need to eat when you drove all that way. You drove all that way to see your loved one I am sure you could have sat with your family and been fine knowing her prognosis in half hour when the nurses had the food and break that they so deserving need. Sometimes if they don’t take their break at the time they do they may not get it. Please do not come down on these people really their job is to take care of the patient and I am sure they went on a break knowing their patient would be fine for the measly 1/2 hour break they get. Otherwise from experience, I know they wouldn’t get to take it. Some of these nurses work anywhere from 12 to 16 hours shifts lets just give them a break and a whole lot of praise and love for the job they do. I always wanted to be a nurse but could I do their job probably not, could you? Probably not

    • says

      sometimes the family members wouldn’t be upset if they didn’t get their panties in a knot worrying over nurses taking their well deserved breaks, but would be glad that they are taking a break so when they come back they are a little restored and regenerated so that they can give the very best care to your family member. Come on give it a break this isn’t all about you its about your family member and obviously the nurses were more than confident that they would be ok. Like I said before if you were that concerned wanting to know about her than you can wait and just enjoy the time with her and get the info when the nurses get back. You say they were very happy to tell you they were going for lunch. That would tell me that my family member was ok and stable for the time being.

    • Jo says

      Your comment Andrea,reminds me of a time a few years back,when my sister’s husband was in an ICU. I was myself an ICU nurse at that time. My sister’s son, a very beloved nephew of mine, felt that anyone taking care of his father should be compelled to explain and justify every single move they made…I was shocked at the “ugly American” type of behavior I was witnessing from my own family. (Okay,maybe I was a tad protective of my sister….and brother…nurses. But he was obnoxious and ridiculous. I did end up telling him that it wasn’t all about him, right now..and the nurses and doctors,as thrilled to talk to him as they were,and as overwhelmed at his brilliance,simply did not have the time or the desire to explain and share everything they had taken YEARS to learn in med school,and in their nursing schools. The point of my comment here,is I have been on both sides of this issue…with or without Privacy Issues..with or without lunch breaks..with or without any other multiple family members clamoring for information, the nurses job is taking care of the patient..and Thank God for them…if they hurt your extremely fragile feelings by not dropping everything …including the very complicated maneuvering it takes to get patients covered by another certified critical care nurse FOR that rare lunch break….well,too bad. Pretend it was a bank line you were waiting in..or some utility company you were dealing with…believe me,you would have waited,dearie. And believe this to….none of their co-workers would have given two shakes about whether or not YOU were happy about it. Wow…this article by the wonderful nurse reminded me of how much I loved being a CCRN…..and your whining, self-important complaining reminded me just as quickly, of the one part of the best job I ever had
      .that I absolutely could never stand…

    • Jamie says

      I am not a nurse but I did work as a guest service Coordinator..my job was to make sure my patients/residents/AND the families were comfortable and happy… I have seen it all and I dealt with stress/Loss and grief personally and professionally!! My way of Coping was through laughing and joking And making sure that everyone was at ease…in the 3 years doing this job I never once had a complaint about me or my attitude.. Thats because I made sure the patients/families knew I was there for ALL of them and expressed to them how I deal in these situations..We Have laughed together and cried together.. I couldn’t imagine doing any other job then this!! My coworkers and patients all know me as “The Jokester” I am the one that dances up and down the halls who sings who whistles Who is always cracking jokes!! In a stressful situation I am the one they call to ease the tension To be the rock when a family member is grieving the loss of their loved one Because I will be there from the beginning until the end.. You see when I first started this job I didn’t think I could handle the stress and depression that I seen on a daily basis But I soon realized I was the kind of person that I wanted To be there for me and my family If I was ever put in that position And sadly During this time working there my father passed away and 11 months later to the day my mother passed away.. I thank God that I had the experience prior to my parents passing and I learned how to deal with the grief as best as I could.. What I am saying is to all these nurses through all the times that I had to be at the hospital with my parents I understand And thank you from the bottom of my heart for all that you do!!! I have been at both ends being an employee that had to be there for residents and patients and families..also being a family member who had to deal with loss With stress and grief.. Some of these people that are commenting that don’t understand or have something negative to say about your blog really makes me upset I guess if they have never worked in healthcare before then that’s why they don’t understand… Until then they don’t Have the right to judge Anyone.. And thank you from the bottom of my heart for writing this…very well said..And thank you for putting my thoughts into words. I appreciate all that these nurses do on a daily basis

      • brieann.rn@gmail.com says

        Thank you so much for commenting and sharing your personal experiences. You sound like someone I would enjoy working with for sure. Thanks again for the encouragement.

    • Cheryl ICU RN says

      In an emergent situation, talking to the family is the LAST priority. I am sorry you feel the way you do. I would rather have MY nurse looking after my family member than chatting up the family.

  11. Mary M says

    Having been a patient in ICU two times in the past 7 years I can attest to the wonderful care ICU nurses give their patients. The sad thing is that once I was “out of the woods” I was transferred to a medical floor and never got to know or thank those in ICU who cared for me and saved my life – twice! Thank you Brie for being there and doing what you do!

    • brieann.rn@gmail.com says

      Thank you so much for your comment Mary! It’s your kind comments and appreciation that encourage nurses everywhere. Bless you my dear.

  12. Jim McGraw says

    Most writing by or about nurses and nursing makes me want to vomit. You, however, hit the nail directly on the head! BRAVO!

    Jim McGraw, RN, MN, MPH

    • brieann.rn@gmail.com says

      Thanks Jim. I’m certainly glad you didn’t vomit; I’m completely out of Phenergan at the moment. ;)
      Thanks again.

  13. Rosalinda says

    Perfectly said. I use to say to my fellow ICU nurses at work…”shhhh I feel bad if the families hear us laughing @such an awful time” only to get the response “we need to laugh to release the stress.” As years have gone by working as an ICU nurse I fine this more and more to be true. I think it lessens the amount of times I sit in my car in the driveway and shed tears. Thanks for your article.

  14. says

    Wow!! I know trauma nurses have very difficult times and days. This is a wonderful and concise letter of all the emotions, processes, and stuff that happens to you all! It was beautifully written and I cried as I read! Thank you for all you do for those who need you! Thank you for caring so much! Thank You!

  15. Lindsey says

    This post is everything I have been tormented with this past weekend. I went from laughing at a coworker rolling down the hallway on a walker to working my first code on a sweet patient, whom we had laughed with all night. As I left for the morning, tears started to fall before I could even make it out the doors to my car. Being a new nurse I am still working on finding my own coping skills for the stress of my job. It’s just something they cannot teach or explain in school. Thanks for your words or wisdom/explanation and helping realize it is okay and normal to laugh and cry all in the same shift.

    • brieann.rn@gmail.com says

      Thanks for your comment. I feel your pain. Personally I think my prayer life has done wonders with my coping abilities. I draw my strength from The Lord. I rely on Him to bring the knowledge to my mind. I dispel fear through knowing there is no fear in Jesus and I can do all things through His strength. Hope that helps. It gets easier.

  16. Sheryl Laffey says

    I have been the family member in the ICU too many times: as a granddaughter, a daughter, a mother, and a wife. I have, when dealing with my own plight seemed too much, watched the nurses buzz around as I had watched bees as an adolescent with awe and wonderment. I am truly amazed how you handle yourselves with such grace and dignity when the balance of life lays in your hand, how you put your personal issues and concerns aside to be there for someone else, how you work tirelessly when some part of you knows it will be to no avail.

    When my daughter was in the ICU, you not only took care of her, you took care of me — reminding me to eat, to sleep, to reach out for help. When my husband was in the ICU, you helped me figure out when to stay and when to go, how to be there for my young daughter, when to have her visit and when to leave her home.
    To me, all nurses are amazing, dedicated, and wonderful people, but ICU nurse are the cream of the crop. If you are not a nurse and are reading this, if you have an opportunity to provide feedback about the care you and your loved one received, please do so. Nurse don’t hear “good job” often enough!

    • brieann.rn@gmail.com says

      Wow, wow, wow. Thank you for this beautiful, heartfelt, well-written comment. It has truly blessed me. And I know you blessed the nurses you interacted with personally as well. I am always touched, amazed, and inspired by the strength of my patient’s families, but some, like yourself, are especially wonderful.

  17. Tana Curry says

    I am not a critical care nurse but my sister is. I have been there to witness her distress, determination, and heart felt feelings toward her patients. Tho the information she receives is confidential, I have received phone calls to be her ear while she cries for a patient and their family. She has there boys of her own and works in a children’s hospital. She is an awesome human being. The nurses truly feel for all patients and families. I know that should my son need ICU care that all nurses would get my full respect. I could not do what they do. I am too weak. But any day, any time I will be the rock for my sister that gives herself and her nursing gift to her patients. Thanks to all you hard working, kind hearted nurses that put yourselves out there everyday for adults and kids alike. You are loved and respected. In my eyes, you are heroes. God bless.

    • brieann.rn@gmail.com says

      Wow. Thanks so much Tana. Your comment is really appreciated. Your sister is blessed to have you. Thanks for reading and sharing your thoughts.

  18. Bridgett, Jacksonville says

    Wow u have nailed it. We are a rare breed chosen my God. This is how we survive day after day . Thanks.

  19. Lori says

    Wow! This should be hanging in every waiting room in every ICU… Thank you so much for sharing. You have so eloquently put something I’ve struggled to say to my families so often!

  20. Lori says

    Wow! Thank you for sharing! This should be posted in every waiting room if every ICU! You have so eloquent put what I have so often struggled to explain to my families- thank you!

  21. Ann Hammon says

    My terminally ill husband had palliative surgery last fall. We had a nurse, only one night, who knew us quite quickly. She prayed with us, we sang, she danced a little, we laughed….it was the best night ever in the hospital! She was a person, and recognized us as persons. Being genuine helps us so very much. Thank you to all the nurses in the past four years who have loved their patients, and whom we have loved.

    • brieann.rn@gmail.com says

      Thank you so much for sharing. I have been a palliative care nurse as well. I’m quite certain you and your husband were more of a blessing to that nurse than you realize. Thanks again.

  22. Paula says

    Thank you for sharing this…I need to have it with me when my daughter is in the PICU this summer. I know I have been short with the nurses and doctors in the ICU and I need a friendly reminder of what you all are going through as well. I am printing this and making sure I have it with me…thank you again!

    • brieann.rn@gmail.com says

      Thank you for the comment. I’m honored that it touched you like it did and you would wish to reread for later reference. :)

  23. Mari Marcanio says

    As a nurse and the mother of a nurse, I would be blessed to have you take care of anyone in my family. This “love” letter to all, could be applied to all disciplines of nursing. We should all take it and keep it in our minds and yes, remember ourselves in the insanity. Taking care of who we are is so important. Our patients and their families are a gift that we have been given. We can’t take care of them if we don’t respect our physical and emotional selves. Thank you!

  24. Val says

    I have cried for and with my patients more times than I can count.I have prayed to God to be with me as I care for your loved one.when we lose the battle and you cry “Why God” I wish I could give you and answer But the truth is I sometimes feel tthe same was “WhyGod”.All I know is that i start and end my shift with a prayer and give the BEST care I can give so please forgive me if I seem indifferent or uncaring but you don’t know my heart.

    • brieann.rn@gmail.com says

      Thanks for the comment Val. Without my prayer life and relationship with Jesus I would be unable to work in critical care.

  25. says

    I’m a 3rd year medical student and I’ve rotated through the SICU and PICU. And I can say that ICU nurses truly are heroes. They have the jobs that are most challenging and rewarding. They make the tough calls everyday.

  26. Lindsey says

    Perfectly put. I am a Respiratory Therapist and have been in all these situations right along side some of the most amazing nurses. I have that same personality as you, too. I joke, I laugh, I act silly at times. But all that is hiding the very real fact that if I were not being silly and laughing, I would be balled up in a corner somewhere crying. Im a pediatric RT and can’t tell you how many times I have sat in my car bawling before I walk in after work to hug my perfect healthy baby girl. Our jobs definately give us the eyes to appreciate things so many people take for granted♥

    • brieann.rn@gmail.com says

      Bless you my friend for caring for those babies. Your comment gave me goosebumps. Thanks for reading and commenting.

  27. says

    A friend shared this on FB today and I just read it and became so emotional that I had to write. My two year old daughter, Lainey, was diagnosed with Leukemia in August of last year. Our pediatrician ran her bloodwork and we were sent straight to Children’s Medical Center’s ER in Dallas. She was admitted and we spent 3 days in ICU trying to get her stable and awaiting final diagnosis. That first night in ICU, I held my baby while she got the first of four blood transfusions over the next 3 days. Sitting in the dark, holding her all night long that first night while she received the new blood, I was beyond terrified that she wouldn’t make it through the night. I’ll never forget the care that I received from the team of ICU nurses. They cried with me, held my hand, prayed with me, reminded me to eat and said all of the things that I needed to hear. I can’t possibly explain what that meant to me. The team of nurses on our Oncology floor were the same. On behalf of mothers everywhere, thank you so very much for what you do. We’re fortunate that Lainey is in clinical remission now and doing well, all things considered. We have a long road ahead but are incredibly thankful for all of the nurses out there, doing a fabulous job, behind the scenes a lot of the time. James 1:2 Count it all joy when you fall into various trials, 3 knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. 4 But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing. Thank you for what you do!

    • brieann.rn@gmail.com says

      Thank you so much for sharing! Your words bless me. I’m so glad Lainey is in remission. And I’m grateful you had such wonderful care for her. I’m beyond pleased for y’all to see where you draw your strength. God is faithful. Bless you and Lainey.

  28. says

    When I was with my Grandmother in ICU a little over a month ago, I was completely taken away about the professionalism, knowledge, experience, and bedside manner of the nurse who worked with my Grandmother.

    That nurse could have sung “Springtime for Hitler” and I would have been fine. In fact, my Grandmother would have gotten a kick out of it.

  29. Renee B. says

    OMG, AMEN! Well written and thought through!! I pray for the day I can once again get back to my passion of nursing ICU.

  30. Pat Frisino says

    This is very timely, being that I am the patient. Exactly a month ago, I was released from the ICU after my surgery for lung cancer. The nurses there were wonderful and I was sad that I hadn’t thanked and said good-bye to the night shift. Now it turns out that I will have to be back in the ICU because I have another issue (not cancer) which will require ICU treatment. My first reaction was “oh no” because I was upset all night, each night I was there, because the unit was so open that I could hear every word that the team of nurses was saying, and hear their laughter, and getting upset that they didn’t even try and keep their voices down so we could sleep. As nurses, they gave wonderful care and I loved them all, but I just wished they would settle down and shut up!! Now I understand that the camaraderie and kidding around were needed by the team, so they could offer the wonderful caring that they gave us patients, the smiles, the dedication. When I go in this time, I will smile when I hear them joke and laugh, and I will understand why we are not sleeping.

    • brieann.rn@gmail.com says

      Thank you for the comment. I pray that your stay will be as pleasant as possible and short in duration. Get well soon. Thanks again for reading.

  31. Rhonda L Wilkerson says

    God Bless you and all the nurses that work under those conditions. May God keep you all very close to him. For you are Angels to someone like me.. Many Thanks from my heart…

  32. says

    This is a wonderful post and how I feel many, many days that I am working… We need to laugh or sing or we may cry and be ineffectual to our patients and their families. It is the way that we sometimes deal with the stress that we are dealing with day in and day out. Thank you so much for sharing this with us. As a ICU nurse and as a family member I thank you for what you do every day you are at work.

    • brieann.rn@gmail.com says

      Thank you for commenting. Nice to know that so many other nurses deal with stress as I do. Thanks again.

  33. Lois Carlson says

    Thank you for your wonderful letter. I am a nurse, retired for almost one year after working in a small rural hospital as a DON. We didn’t have an ICU and many of our critical patients were transferred to tertiary care centers for their ICU care. I never really realized what an ICU nurse is or does until I had a near-fatal bout of pneumonia 18 months ago. I spent nearly a week in ICU, on a ventilator for 80+ hours. I had wonderful care, but never got to say thank you, except by letter, to those who cared for me. I was transferred to a med-surg floor for the final day before discharge. Then one month ago my husband had open heart surgery for a mitral valve repair and triple bypass surgery. This time I got a first-hand look at what the ICU nurses do and was so impressed. And this time I got to say thanks to them by bringing some cookies before my husband was transferred to the cardiac post-op unit. Your thoughts mirror those of nurses in rural hospitals as well, but I know an ICU nurse has more stress on a daily basis. Thanks also for sharing your faith with us. Our faith in Jesus is what makes the difference in all of life.

  34. Megan Kirby says

    Thank you for this. My mother has been an ICU patient, and my wonderful mother-in-law is an excellent PICU nurse. I hope many people see and understand that there are two sides to every story, and that nurses feel just as deeply as family members, and are unable to show it and maintain their job integrity in many situations. I’ve seen both sides of the fence all too often, and I appreciate the open, honest and compassionate way you’ve stated the true meaning of the situations seen by patient families

  35. Abe says

    Thank You so much for this letter… my daughter is just now starting her orientation and training into the world of MICU and SICU… the last two or so years she has been a Cardio Vascular Nurse … she loves it and has been striving to move on to ICU. She shared with me that her first week was rough… she felt out of her element… like a brand new right out of school nurse again… while her precepting nurse assured her she was doing fine … this letter gave me some insight and understanding of what she is and will be dealing with … I am extremely proud of her … I Love the passion and love she has for taking care of her patients and families.… I also want to thank all of you who choose to take on the tough job… THANK YOU

    • brieann.rn@gmail.com says

      Thanks for commenting. I know your daughter is doing great and she appreciates your support. Thank you again.

  36. Sheri says

    Thank you Brieann,
    I am a Resp Therapist 20 yrs and it does take a special person. I LOVE the vast majority of my RNs. We are such a close team, we nearly read each others minds. I have always worked in small county hospitals, often the only one at a time. My body is wracked with indescribable pain after 14 yrs of running from a code to a child’s airway difficulty in ER, to a meconium stain in OB, to transporting a vented pt to MRI where I stand in a drum recital for 90 min while a pt upstairs yells & complains their breathing treatment in 10 min late after sending me away when I said I had this MRI pt I will not be able to leave so I would like to do their tx early but still in the time frame. So we have a control issue here and if you can rant like this, my friend, you are breathing just fine. Then tomorrow I will come back to hold the hand of the ALS pt while he dies after I shut off the ventilator. This is mind numbing as I know the only thing still working properly is the fully functional brain. God give me strength!
    I appreciate my docs who walk away in many situations of imminent disaster, taking an intern with him explaining the pt couldn’t be in more qualified care. But I also know I am because I have to be. There is no one else but me. I appreciate it, but it naws at my mind, the next time. What if I cannot get to both critical situations in time?? I have had more close calls I lost count and my beloved qualified RN’s could not be more precious to me. They know what to do, when to do it to buy me some time, if they don’t, they let me talk them through it again buying me time.
    I had a student get snarky while one of these gals suctioned the vent pt. “Now we have nurses suctioning the vent pt?” Ah, the young. I told him sternly “I would trust these particular nurses to completely run the vent. Not to mention, it is their job too”. I do not feel this way about all my RN coworkers, heck, I don’t feel this way about all the RTs I’ve worked with. But the vast majority I do. I have hand picked every staff member from surgery techs to CNAs when my family has been hospitalized. Including who was NOT to enter the room.
    It is special, a true calling. I wanted a career in health care, patient care. But I didn’t think I had what it took to be an RN.
    THANK YOU Brieann for all you do. I would be honored to call you a coworker.

  37. says

    Thank You . I never said Thank You To the ICU nurses when my husband was ill. Sadly he did pass away. But I do thank you for taking the time to put this into words. To You and all The ICU nurses Thank You.

    • brieann.rn@gmail.com says

      Thank you for taking the time to comment. I am truly sorry for your loss. God bless you. Thanks again.

  38. SHARON says

    As a respiratory therapist I know just how you ICU and Emergency Nurses feel. I work along side of you! God bless the person who wrote this!

  39. Stephanie says

    I work in the Burn ICU at a major hospital and this really hits home for me. I wish families and patients would understand that we have other patients that we have to devote just as much time to. Along with the bad comes the good- the happiness, relief, joy, pride you feel when you save a life, see a patient walk or hear their voice for the first time. We have patients for over a year sometimes and when they return for OT/PT it is such a joyous event and it makes every minute worth it.

  40. Juliana says

    Reminds me of a Christmas Day I was working in ICU years ago. It was a pretty sick unit, but the other nurses and I found a moment to sit and enjoy a holiday meal and each other’s company, our family away from family. A patient’s family member filed a complaint that we were far too jovial considering where we were working. I didn’t know the how to explain to him that it’s because of where we were working that we had to be jovial. Thanks for finding the words.

  41. Lori says

    I work in an IMC, but a lot of our patients are ICU status & we hold them until the ICU bed is available. We care for them while caring for 2 other patients. It is stressful, to say the least.
    My coworkers are my ROCK during difficult times. We work hard, but we also have fun. Laughter is the best medicine. Thank you for your dedication to your patients.

    • brieann.rn@gmail.com says

      Thank you for your comment. I’ve done PCU which sounds similar and it is very stressful! Thanks again for reading and commenting!

  42. Mariellen RN says

    This is one of the best explanations of what we as ICU nurse’s see and g o through. Thank you for posting it.

  43. Amy Mapes says

    I am not a nurse but I spent several weeks at a time with my son in PICU way back in 1998 to 2005. He had the best nurses. They became my friends and family since we were away from home. When Ian was born they decorated his crib and brought him a toy. They wheeled my hospital bed in next to his so that I could hold him for the first time. We read magazines together, shared stories…his profusionist and nurses were a 2 on 1 package for a while. I even made cupcakes for all of the PICU nurses to celebrate Ian coming off of ECMO after 5 days. Ian died 8 years ago but when I went back to visit his picture was still in one of the cardiologist offices. I hope that you realize what a lasting impression nurses have….

  44. Virgil RAFFIELD says

    My beautiful bride of 33 years Kay Loveless Raffield was a respiratory theropist. This helps me to understand a little more of all the care given to the patients and their families by all the wonderful staff in health care. God bless you all. What a fantastic Gift you all are.

  45. 1st experience in ICU says

    This should be posted on the doors to ICU for every visitor to read. My father in law was in ICU 3 months ago and it was really hard visiting sometimes. Our first nurse was very chipper and sweet. BUT our night nurse. He was awesome! Yes, I got annoyed by our nurse; he barely spoke to us; not even an update. As I stood there for my 20 minutes just talking to my father in law he came and checked my father in law. I noticed the time and said goodbye to my father in law promising to be back at the next visit. Our nurse stopped me and asked me to stay and keep talking to him. After 45 minutes, he came over and added something to his IV and explained that there was a mistake with his medication and the pharmacy was trying to fix it but his body/ numbers were declining. In the middle of trying to fix his medication with the pharmacy and doctor she noticed how he responded to me and got permission for me to stay until his got his medication. I made sure I thanked the nurse BUT when I walked back to the ICU waiting room I was blown away with the anger and bitterness of some people. Someone actually complained on my behalf! They noticed my nurse was not talking to me but on the phone. In the ICU waiting people were actually complaining about the very people trying to save their love ones for not having manners! I don’t understand!
    Having gone on rant… Can I give a copy of this to the ICU nurse I met? I really want to make copies and leave them in the ICU waiting room, (honestly – ALL the waiting rooms in the hospital!)

    • brieann.rn@gmail.com says

      Thank you for your comment. I would love for it to be shared. I just ask that you include my blog site as the origination and include the web address of savortheessenceoflife.com.

      • Kim Blackman says

        I too would like to make a copy(copies) of this letter to put in our ICU family waiting room, or patient rooms. Could I too have this permission? Thank you so much!
        Kim

        • brieann.rn@gmail.com says

          Not a problem. I’m pleased people want to share it. Just credit my site savortheessenceoflife.com. Thanks again.

  46. Brandi says

    I may not be an ICU nurse, but as an EMT, and Medic student I can relate. Thanks for the article, a very good reminder of why we do what we do.

    • brieann.rn@gmail.com says

      Thanks so much for commenting. As an EMT you rock! I was a Naval Hospital Corpsman before I became a RN. Thanks for all you do.

  47. Barbara says

    Brie, just wanted to explain to you who I am. I worked with this RN back several years ago. She was one of the most influential nurses that one could ever ask for. As a matter of fact you described her perfectly in your ICU letter. She had patience that most people only wish for. She was understanding and kind and always took time for those family members. She truly cared for her patients as well as her co-workers. She always took time to explain the little things that most people take for granted. She knew when you were in need of a pick me up without asking. And last but certainly not least, she was one of the best friends I or anyone else could ask for……. Your Mother would be very proud that you followed in her footsteps so well. Yes Marty was a great person and friend and I miss her dearly. Thanks for allowing me to vent.

    • brieann.rn@gmail.com says

      I posted this comment for Barbara to the site. She sent to me via Facebook Messenger after I accepted her friend request. It is the best comment ever as it is so personal. Thanks Barbara!

  48. Jennifer says

    Brieann,
    My friend (a nurse) reposted this on facebook and I had to stop and read it. I have a 9 year old who on Easter almost 3 years ago had a horrible head wound. after 16 stitches and 5 days in ICU I came to have a really good relationship with most of the nurses. One that I remember most fondly, Judy( yes, even to this day I remember her name). Every time she came into his room, if he was awake she had a new joke for him. He looked forward to her shift and her jokes.

    • brieann.rn@gmail.com says

      Thank you for reading and commenting. I love all the comments! I’m so glad your experience was a good one for your son. Thanks again.

  49. says

    Great post! But what you didn’t add is how we have to compartmentalize everything. That we can’t let things get to us because we can lose focus on what we are doing. It doesn’t mean that we don’t care or hear our patients families, it’s actually the exact opposite. Yes, I may have just left your father’s room after doing an hour of CPR but I have to leave my empathy for your father in his room. I can’t take it with me to my two other patients rooms. I wish we had time to sit and mourn with you, but we don’t. So if you see me cutting up with my patient next door it doesn’t mean I don’t care about you. It only means I have to hide those wounds from my other patients. It’s best they don’t know what happened. So we put on a brave face to mask what we really feel. We aren’t trying to be callous just strong.

    • says

      I have to comment on this.
      My first ICU visit as I mentioned in a previous post I was 34 and just found out that I have serious heart problems. The first night in the ICU The patient next room to me went into cardiac arrest and unfortunately died. The nurse I had immediately came into my room and wrapped her arms around me to comfort me and help to make sure I was ok. At the time at first I didn’t understand but then when left alone afterward I realized OMG that guy died of heart problems, I have heart problems and I’m in ICU am I that sick am I going to leave my 10 yr old daughter, I started to weep, again my nurse came in saying its ok we are going to take the best care of you and I will sit here with you until your ok she by the way missed her breaks. She will never know just how much it meant to me that she was there and she did everything possible to make sure I was ok. After a bit she shared a couple of stories with me and a couple of jokes. Some might say was that appropriate to joke right after the man died, I say yes it was appropriate to the young girl (me) that was terrified just realizing how sick she really was. I have more than thanks for you folks you helped save my life and comfort my young daughter that was afraid her only parent was going to be taken away. So once again thanks nurses for what you did then and thanks for the wonderful care you gave my mom only 2 months ago and the dignity you gave her. Like others, I had to cope with her nurse going next door to the other patient and hearing a little laugh because I know that patient next door just laid there and listened as we said goodbye to my mom and as my poor daughter was devastated that she lost her nanny. Our family was made of my mom, my daughter and I. So our nurse Laura, after we left went to her patients to reassure them and help them. Why wouldn’t or shouldn’t she. She had already done every possible thing she could for my mom and my daughter and I. So when we hear you chuckle or sing we will appreciate that’s how you cope and knowing that if you had your way you probably would rather go in the corner and cry but you can’t.
      Thanks Bri I would be honored to have you as my nurse. I will be going into ICU in a couple of weeks as I have been waiting for surgery since the day before my mom died, in November and it will finally happen in the next few weeks. I look forward to being in the ICU because I know I will get 110% perfect care

  50. Dawn says

    I was a 20 year trauma/surgery RN in intensive care. I held hands, I cried, I prayed and just listened. Between visiting – my co workers and I would laugh and joke just to deal with the patients that we couldn’t help. It was never in a mocking or insensitive way. The stress of ICU nursing is incredible. I am 47 and have been disabled with MS for 2 years. The one thing I miss since disability is not the money(although that hurts) but I miss my patients and families. Nursing was not just a job for me, it was my passion!!!!

    • brieann.rn@gmail.com says

      Thank you for the comment and reading along. I’m certain you were a fabulous nurse and are greatly missed.

  51. Diane says

    I worked in the same ICU at a major teaching hospital for 37 years and loved every minute. I “gave” my body to the patient care, retired now with work related herniated discs and bad knees. I miss patient care so much. Your post had me weeping, it is spot on.

  52. Terri says

    I was an ICU RN for 21 years and still miss it to this day! I loved my job, but had to leave because of a physical condition. While reading this, I felt like you had followed me around (except the singing part, I can’t carry a tune and that would be torture). It is beautifully written and from what sounds like a very talented nurse! God Bless you!

  53. Rick says

    To all of you who cared,
    Last Sunday (1/5) my mom coded for the last time. She had been in the ER for 6 hours before you could get her stabilized enough to get her up to ICU (she had a PE). She had coded 5x in the ER and dad decided before going home later that night that you’d done your best. I live 2 states away so I never met you, but I too know you did your best with compassion. Thank you.

    • brieann.rn@gmail.com says

      Wow Rick. Thank you so much for the comment. I know it must be so hard and I empathize with your pain. Thank you for sharing with us all. God bless you and your family.

  54. Steven Winkler says

    As a critical care Internisit I have many tough days like yourself and today was no exception. But ICU nurses are the hearts and souls of what we do. our eyes, ears and hands. Many times I’m working in the office when I get the call of a terrible change in status about a patient who is taking an imminent turn for the worse. I feel so helpless. Just want to rush out of the office an be there but know that I can’t be. Thank goodness for the ICU nurses who are there to deliver the care as needed on the spot to both to the ill patients and are able to comfort the grieving family members. You are the ones who are the true primary care givers and make us doctors look good. Bless you all for your efforts, caring and selfless compassion.

  55. dani d says

    Thank you for this precious reminder. We had some amazing icu nurses before my father passed away. Some started crying before I did. Truly passionate people who care about what they are doing. Thank you for making a difference in so many lives.

  56. noreen...Rn says

    Thank you. You have summed up all I have wanted to say. See I had given great care to my patient while my dad was dying on the other side the other ICU in same hospital. After a month and so my mother had passed away too. So singing while hanging IV is the best coping mechanism I know how to do and be focus and sharp. Thank you again.

  57. says

    My little girl was born with a serious heart defect and spent much of her first three months in the CICU. I would have something akin to a small panic attack whenever it was suggested she was doing well enough to be transferred to the recovery floor. I slept better when she was in the CICU – I felt more peace when she was there, and I felt love there.

    I was a first time mom and when my daughter was just 6 days old she had her first open heart surgery. Just hours before her surgery they told of us some devestating news about some of her test results.

    I was in recovery from a c section and could barely stand by my daughter’s bed. Her sweet nurse took care of me as much as she took care of my critically ill baby and I’ll never forget her. When I saw her again months later when my little one was back in the CICU we shared an emotion filled hug.

    God bless you for what you do.

    • brieann.rn@gmail.com says

      Thank you so much for sharing this with us. As a mother I can only imagine your roller coaster of emotions. I pray God’s peace and comfort surround you. Thanks again for the comment.

  58. GrandHolly says

    Quoting from I-don’t-remember-who: Life is too tragic not to laugh about, and it’s too ridiculous not to cry over. Thank you for your work, and keep on laughing and crying.

  59. Richard Pounds RN says

    This letter really hits it on the head. I don’t sing much, but I hum old rock and roll songs as I am working, even in a code situation. Helps me deal with the stress. Of course, family members sometimes do not understand as they are looking at things from a different perspective. I work a Cardiac ICU, and it gets pretty crazy sometimes, I totally understand the crying in the driveway, and I am not too macho to admit it. Thanks!!

  60. Dana says

    I was in Hurley for 18 days, 14 of those days I was non responsive. I was in the CCU for another 2 more days after I became responsive and I loved hearing them be happy & laughing out in the hall. It made me feel good. Thank you to all my CCU nurses and doctors at Hurley. You took great care of me and I really appreciate it.

  61. Sarah says

    From an ICU pharmacist friend, thank you for this! Though we as pharmacists don’t get to spend as much time at the bedside, it doesn’t mean we don’t go through all of these emotions too. I have worked alongside so many wonderful ICU nurses and often wonder how they remain composure with the same family or two through an entire shift to help them grieve. Often at times when I’m called to a bedside by a nurse I feel so helpless for the emotions they must be going through as well! Thank you for a great reminder for all of us who work with criticically ill patients why we do what we do.

  62. Colleen says

    Thank you, thank you, thank you! As an ICU nurse of many years I appreciate this insight for many new nurses who may not know what they are walking into and for the families that we get to know.

  63. Bernadette says

    Thank you for your heartfelt post . Our daughter is a nurse works in ICU and has expressed the same feeling . You are all greatly appreciated!!!

  64. Ashkat says

    At the beginning of the last week of Dad’s life in ICU, our musical family sang his favorite hymns to him. The ICU nurses just shut his door so that we wouldn’t disturb the other patients. As the end drew near a week later, the same nurse was on duty. We knew the end was coming and had grudgingly accepted the fact. She stepped into the room where we were gathered around dad and motioned to the declining monitors. She put her hand on my mom and my shoulder and said the following words that I’ll never forget, “Now would be a good time to sing your dad to heaven”. As we finished the last verse of his favorite hymn, his heart and breathing stopped. This wonderful lady knew what was important to my dad and our family and made sure that we could say goodby our way. Thank you.

  65. Kathy Braun says

    As the parent of a PICU nurse I worry about my daughter. She gives so much, I can only hope she saves some for herself. Long hours, skipped meals and stress I can’t imagine only make her more resolved to face the next shift and “make a difference”.
    When I asked her how she can deal with the sadness, she simply told me that she concentrates on the “happy endings”.
    When I look at her, I don’t see this amazing professional, I see my sweet little girl and remind myself how blessed we are to have her in our lives.
    She is not perfect ( but pretty close)…..she is my hero!

  66. Deb Jordan says

    Great job Brie ! I truly believe with all my heart that nursing is a calling from God. It is a difficult job to keep ones composure and deliver the best care we can. We have to have healthy coping mechanisms . We have to have some catharsis for our own sadness and grief. Many of the very best experiences I have had as a 30 year ICU nurse were those where I shared my humanness . When I had the time to hug my patients family members and discuss the plan of care or update them on what was going on. We sometime protect the family by withholding information until we KNOW . I had a daughter of one of my patients get angry with me because I did not let her know her dad had a 100.0 degree temp. I let her vent and understood she was trying to help in the only way she could. She was trying to control the uncontrollable ! I gave her a task. I sent her to buy him some non-petroleum lip balm ! She came back triumphant and feeling better. She helped in a way she could ! Nursing requires a great deal of imagination and resourcefulness ! An old long gone ICU nurse friend taught me long ago , ” keep them (family) busy “. What she meant was to give them something to do to help. Sitting in the ICU waiting room …waiting and worrying and waiting … has got to be the third circle of hell ! I once passed the waiting room to observe my patient’s wife just sitting staring at her hands and wringing them . I stopped to ask her what was going on . What she imparted was ,” every thing is the same … no change .” My old friend’s voice echoed in my ear . ” Keep her busy .” I asked her if she did any hand work and told her he could use a pair of slippers. Not only did he get slippers , but she made dollies for every IU and therapist who cared for him ! I cherish mine to this day ! It hangs in a place of honor in my home to remind me , ” Keep them busy ! “

  67. Dan says

    Thank you for your letter. I plan to post it in our break room. As an ICU/CCU RN for the last 28 years I can identify with all that you stated. Over the years we have recieved multiple letters from patients and families thanking the staff for all their care, frequently saying they can’t remember the names of all those nurses that helped their loved ones. I personally am proud to have provided their care anomonously whereas what I do is for them it is also for me.i do what I do for personal satisfaction not for gratitude from those I help.

  68. katie says

    I had major surgery in 2011 and was told beforehand to expect a brief stay in the ICU due to the scope of the operation. A “brief stay” turned into many more days as there were complications. Please accept the thanks that I was unable to give my ICU nurses as I was transferred out overnight and did not have time to thank each individually. You gave me such wonderful care and kept me and my family informed as this unexpected stay went on. Thank you for all that you do.

  69. Dan says

    Thank you for your letter. I plan to post it in our break room. As an ICU/CCU RN for the last 28 years I can identify with all that you stated. Over the years we have recieved multiple letters from patients and families thanking the staff for all their care, frequently saying they can’t remember the names of all those nurses that helped their loved ones. I personally am proud to have provided their care anonymously whereas what I do is for them it is also for me.i do what I do for personal satisfaction not for gratitude from those I help.

  70. Melissa says

    Thank you for this letter. My step mother passed away two mouths ago and this letter opened my eyes. The ICU nurse that took care of my step mother for several months stayed strong, however the day the shut the machines off, I noticed her tears and realized how hard this must be for the people who took care of the sick.

    Thank you for being one the special nurses doing one of the hardest jobs.

    • brieann.rn@gmail.com says

      Thank you so much for your comment. I’m so sorry for your loss. May God give you all comfort. Thanks again.

    • brieann.rn@gmail.com says

      Thank you so much for catching that error. It is corrected! I’m surprised I didn’t make more considering I wrote it one-handed on my mobile device while nursing my baby to sleep after I had worked a hectic 13 hour day at the hospital. Haha. Thanks again.

  71. says

    My 18-year-old sister recently spent two terrifying weeks in ICU, and her ICU nurses were absolute angels for our family during that time. They hugged us, cried with us, reassured us, and even bought my sister a princess tiara to wear on the day she got to move down to Intermediate Care. I am so grateful for the knowledge and compassion of nurses (and all other health care providers) everywhere! Thank you!

  72. jill g says

    I just wanted to sa I love this article. I’m not a nurse (yet) I’m a mom to a child born with hypoplastic left heart syndrome and have spent total over a year at childrens hospital boston. Its my second home. And never once did the nurses jokes, laughter, dancing, or singing bother me. Usually I joined in or even started the silliness, even as my daughter lay intubated for weeks. Silly means everything is stable..silly means right now at this moment we aren’t logging pressures and adjusting every thirty seconds just to keep her from crashing. Silly means the infant next door who coded two hours ago is still alive. Joking means you aren’t mad at the ver y seasoned icu mom who accidentally hit the code alarm instead of the call nurse alarm for a cath rebleed and then have everyone come and visit to tease said mom…lol

  73. paula says

    Love this I have had the honor of working in the MICU for the last 8 years, I couldn’t have said it any better. Thank you; I like many would love to see this in all ICU waiting areas! Paula

  74. says

    Brie: What a wonderful letter! I have been a respiratory therapist for 36+ years, and have been privileged to work with some of the best people in the world in various types of hospitals. I have also been on the receiving end of ICU twice and I must say, my nurses were super! I couldn’t have asked for better care and understanding, and both situations were very tense. God has been good and let me survive, but I haven’t worked in a hospital now for 7 years and there are days I miss it so much. One anecdote: when I was first starting out, the ICU was an 8 bed ward. The head nurse and I grabbed an IV pole and a bed pan (back when they were metal!) and started dancing up and down the ICU trying to cheer the patients up. You see, a 16 year old boy had just learned he would never walk again and we had a mom who tried to commit suicide, along with other patients in the ward. We got a smile out of the patients with our silliness. I will never forget trying to make them laugh when there was so much pain for them and for us. Bless you and the hard work you do. I loved my ICU nurses, those who were my coworkers and those who were my caregivers.

    • brieann.rn@gmail.com says

      Thanks for the great comment. I’m not admitting to anything, but I may have been known to ride an IV pole down the hall! Lol.

  75. Joann says

    Wow! Unbelievably well written! My Husband was just in the ICU over New Years and the ICU nurses were A-M-A-Z-I-N_G!! As we sat in the darkened room, my eight year old son asked why the nurses were laughing when so many people on that floor were sick, and I told him that if people didn’t laugh, then they could not do their job as well as they do. I loved when each and every one came in smiling, humming, and even laughing. It kept us positive and I don’t think we could have ever asked for a better bunch of nurses. They took impeccable care of my Husband!Kudos to all nurses! What you do every day makes me want to be a nurse so I can be a better person!

    • brieann.rn@gmail.com says

      Thank you for the great comment! The part where you spoke to your son brought tears to my eyes. Thanks again.

  76. says

    As a trauma and critical care chaplain in a level one trauma center I was given the gift of being with and sharing both times of beauty and of pain with these wonderful ICU and Trauma nurses. Now, as a mental health therapist specializing in trauma and also in providing support to medical professionals, I continue to receive the gift of trust from these amazing professionals. You have voiced so perfectly the common expressions of a myriad others of your colleagues. Thank you for being their voice in print! I would love to post the link to this article (via your blog site address) to my public Facebook page. Thank you, ICU nurses, for your tireless and often thankless contributions to the physical, emotional, and spiritual wellbeing of your patients and their families…..and to each other.

  77. says

    I’ve been an ICU nurse for thirty years. I’ve experienced all that you’ve described, from family anger at what seems to be “inappropriate” behavior from staff in light of their loved one’s illness to coming home and crying because we couldn’t accomplish what was best for the patient. In that I include letting that patient have a dignified death. We do all we can when we know that it can help but then there are the times when MDs and families demand that we continue despite the fact that the patient will not recover or will have a life that is full of suffering. Families need to know when it’s time to “let go” out of love for their mother or father or child, and not to press on because they themselves aren’t ready. this, to me is most frustrating of all.

    • brieann.rn@gmail.com says

      Thank you for commenting. It’s so hard for families. I constantly tell myself to imagine being in their shoes and it makes everything clear. Not easier, but more understandable.

  78. LISA MARSHMAN says

    OMG this bought tears to my eyes, have been an ICU nurse since 1986 and have experienced so much over the years…..happiness and heartache and we do cope in what can often be perceived as inappropriate ways, but have no doubt I love my job and care deeply for EVERY patient that I look after.

  79. B mann says

    I / we know — you not only do that in ICU but other wards too.. Unfortunatly We had to experience that in an oncology ward. And i can’t thank you all enough for not giving up.. As we as family memener never give up… While working beside my husbands bed i understood that you all r humans like us and trying your best.. We still have long ways to go to find treatments and cures.. But i would also want u all to understand that if we r behaving inappropriatly its not you– its the situation we r in and its our love and worries to our family memner lying in bed and also to little kids and old parents we have at home… Thank you again for all u do.. Great artical— made me cry so much– not too long ago i have seen doc’s, nurses, myself helpless– infront of his will… Still trying to find answers to WHY… God bless u all..

    • brieann.rn@gmail.com says

      Thanks for commenting. I pray God’s peace may help settle some questions for you. He always has you in His hand. Bless you. Thanks again.

  80. says

    I’m a CCU nurse and this is such a wonderful article. Thanks for sharing! It’s so accurate & definitely portrays some very very hard days at work.

  81. Tracey says

    I had one of those moments just this weekend. I sang, I prayed, I begged God to give her a second chance and for me to be strong for my patient and her family. You hit that nail square on the head. Thank you. I hope more non-nursing personnel see it and think back on when they thought a nurse indifferent to their suffering and know we are not. We are trying to survive the night right along with the patient and family.

  82. Lisa says

    …..awesome blog……I also read every comment and response….I’ve been an ICU nurse since 1985…I felt the ache as I read some parts of your blog….a giggle escaped as I remembered my own version of other parts of your blog, particularly the humor and singing….what weighs me down daily that I didn’t see anyone else post is: 1)a 31 bed integrated care unit, so I must juggle a patient assignment with varying acuity (floor, IMC, ICU) and 2)family-centered care with open visiting hours, so there is no “down” time, especially because the charting stations are directly across from all patient rooms….these add even more stress to my job….thanks for your eloquence!

  83. Chelsy says

    This. Is. Beautiful!

    When my daughter was born she spent a week in the neonatal intensive care unit at McMaster children’s hospital in Hamilton.

    Her nurses were the most amazing people I have ever ha the pleasure of coming across in life!
    They loved and handled her like we was their own!

    Leaving the hospital was a mix of emotions.
    I was so thankful that my daughter was ok, so thankful that they took such good care of her but saddened by leaving these wonderful women!

    I made sure to send a cookie bouquet as a thank you for their hard work and the heart they out into their time with my daughter.

    God bless you :)

  84. Tom says

    Very well written letter. My wife is also a nurse, I have also been in ICU, so I know exactly what your saying. You care givers ARE angels from heaven and your courage is above extraordinary. Thank you for all you do, many times throughout life we do not get the compliments, only the bad but I tell you all now, you are truly blessed and God is on your side! Just a side note, when I was in ICU, I could hear the nurses arguing about who it was that was going to take care of me that day, it made me feel good to know that I made them smile and helped brighten their day…. God Bless you all!!!

  85. says

    This was an awesome post and spoke truth to what many nurses want to say. I try to educate families as one of my coping mechanisms. Never have cried. I guess writing is cathartic for me as well. For instance, my new novel taRNished is about a nurse serial killer. It is opening dialogue about areas of nursing that are usually closed to discussion. I blog about it here: http://tarnished-novel.com/blog/ and the book is available here: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/ASIN/0991367707

  86. S says

    Brie, this post could not resonate with me any more strongly! As an ICU nurse of 5 years, I’ve dealt with things that have left a permanent mark upon my heart. I use similar coping mechanisms, because if I didn’t, I would be eaten alive by my grief.

    I laugh because I can’t forget the young postpartum mother who suffered brain death from a massive intracranial hemorrhage while feeding her newborn. The two days I spent caring for her were the hardest of my career; as I watched her decline and frantically fought to keep her alive, my heart began crumbling. When the interventions weren’t working and her ICP kept rising, the pieces of my fragile heart continued to fall apart. When I shined the flashlight into her fixed and blown pupils, the pain I felt was tangible. As I watched her head CT pop up on the computer screen as the tech was scanning her, I felt nauseous at the massive amount of damage I saw. When I called her husband and told him to come as quickly as he could, I wanted to curl into a ball and hide from the world, but I had to remain strong for that precious family. As one of her young daughters held her limp hand and said goodbye, I couldn’t keep the tears from rolling down my face. Even though her family was present and I wanted to remain strong for them, I couldn’t contain my grief and cried alongside them. I apologized for my tears and hugged her countless family members, who thanked me for being vulnerable. In a brief moment alone in her room, I quickly wrote a comforting Scripture on her whiteboard and whispered in her ear “It’s ok…God is waiting for you.”

    Over and over, I prayed to God to heal this woman, but He decided to heal her by bringing her home to be with Him. As I snuggled her young baby while watching her husband say goodbye to her, I smoothed his sweet cheeks and prayed that he could somehow understand how hard I worked to save his mama…how broken I felt inside because that wasn’t God’s will for her to be in his life. As my shift ended, I sobbed as I gathered my bag and walked out the door. In my car, I crumpled over the steering wheel and cried for 30 minutes before I could collect myself enough to drive home.

    I laugh, because I know that when I go back to work, there will be another family who needs my compassion and care. My laughter, along with God’s grace, sustains me and allows me to give my all to each and every patient. Thank you for sharing in such an eloquent way!

    • brieann.rn@gmail.com says

      Thank you for your comment. Thanks for sharing such a personal story. I can see God has placed you just where He wants to use you. You’re doing good. Thanks again.

  87. Roger says

    As a parent who has spent a total of 5 months in a NICU, two different babies with neither one coming home, I have seen a lot of nurses let down their guards. I’ve laughed and joked and cried with them, there was nothing that I would not feel comfortable talking to with these amazing nurses. One of the hardest things about going home was not being able to talk to people that I now consider part of my family, obviously coming home without my babies was the worst part. To all the nurses that have to deal with these heartbreaking situations I want to say a big Thank You, and to all the special people working at 7N at Children’s Hospital Boston that may ever see this a special thank you goes out to you and know that your contributions to my baby’s lives will never be forgotten.

  88. Lori says

    When I worked ICU I did so as a tech. When I became I nurse, I became an ER/trauma nurse. What u describe is in the life of every critical care nurse. Laughing keeps us from sobbing, bathroom breaks are few and far between and lunch breaks……we get those only after about 8 hours of work when all the food left is the dried up picked over food but hey, we are proud to get it. We work codes on mommies, daddies and babies. I can’t tell u the times I have worked codes on children and been fussed at bc I didn’t bring a blanket soon enough. We often neglect our own families to stay late and take care of others. And we do it bc we love it! We do it bc to walk out of the hospital at the end of your shift and know u did good that day and GOD worked through you is a feeling like no other. We fight for our patients every minute of every shift and wouldn’t want it any other way!! Thank you for your letter :)

  89. David says

    Hello, thank you for writing this blog! My wife is an ICU nurse and we have been married now for 7 years and never until I just now read this blog did I understand how difficult her job is! She comes home with so many different emotions everyday and it is so frustrating, and all she wants to do is relax but she comes home and has to deal with me (a pain in the you know what) and our two beautiful children. I guess what I’m trying to say is that she is an amazing woman and I now appreciate everything she does so much more inside work and at home! So please if you know someone that is involved with the ICU just give them a hug and say thank you!! Thank you!!

  90. Jenn says

    I woke up after the delivery of my 3rd child in ICU with a ventilator, IV’s, blood transfusions, monitors, etc. I had placenta acreta and placenta previa. They saved my son…they almost lost me. I had to have a hysterectomy on top of the Caesarian. I woke up not knowing any of this. The last thing I remembered was hearing my son cry as a nurse escorted my husband to the nursery with him, then shaking uncontrollably, and my doc saying “stay with me Hun, stay with me.” When I woke up in ICU a couple days later, no one noticed. Apparently I was in a coma, and they weren’t expecting me to wake any time soon. The first thing I remember was hearing my husband and a gal laughing. I knew then that I would be ok. I tried to move but my arms were strapped down. I couldn’t talk. Finally my husband and the nurse noticed. The nurse explained that I was ok, that I was going to be ok, and that they were right there with me. They did not explain what happened, but I am grateful that they didn’t at that time. I remember when they had to use a green sponge thing to clean my mouth. My entire body shook, I thought they were choking me to death. The nurse calmly talked me through it while my husband held my hand as tears rolled down my cheeks. Later, more laughing. Even later, a rush into my room as I was struggling. Then more laughing as I drifted off to sleep. My husband joined in. As a patient – I am so appreciative that the nurses looked after my husband, and helped him laugh a little through his worst nightmare. He is a doctor and knew the severity of it all. I am grateful the nurses laughed when I was in and out of consciousness. It made me feel like I was going to be ok. I LOVED, loved, loved the nurse who sang quietly to herself as she gave me another unit of blood. It was soothing to my soul. I enjoyed being able to watch life go on, hoping I’d be able to someday go on. It gave me hope, comfort, and made me feel loved. I have never had more caring, attentive nurses than I had in ICU. I am sure it may be different for those who do end up losing their loved ones. But for those of us that are blessed to leave your care, we appreciate you, your laughs, your jokes, and your ability to stay calm, collected, and encouraging. I hope to never to return to ICU, but I will never forget the care I received while there. Thank you!

  91. Elizabeth Spelce says

    Loved your post. I have been a RN in the MICU for 20 years. I know that I was always suppose to be there. I am one of the loudest nurses on the day shift and along with that I love to joke around.
    Six years ago I was admitted to the MICU (where I work) due to a bad outcome after major surgery. I was in ARDS’s, vented and trached for 4 1/2 months. My fellow Rn’s, RT’s, etc saved my life. After a year and a half I was back to work. I have only have 50% lung function today.
    People often ask how is it that I can be back as a ICU nurse in the same place where I was a patient, and had almost died at least 3 times. It is because I have faith that this is where I am meant to be.
    I plan to share your posting with my mother. She was always angry and mean to the people who took care of me because they were joking and laughing. Because those nurses knew my bedside manner – they knew that it was ok. I truly believe the way my friends/co-workers behaved got me back to a productive life and back to being the awesome RN that I know I am.
    I always share my story with my patient’s and their families. Telling them that I have been there gives them some hope (when sometimes that is all there is).

    • brieann.rn@gmail.com says

      Thanks so much for sharing! Your story is awesome and I know it blesses your patients. Thanks again.

  92. Sonia says

    So well said !!!. I’ve been an RN for more than 40 yrs, this is the story of all nurses. I have worked both ICU and ER for many years.I now work in Long Term Care and still see this in end of life times. Unfortunately, some get reported to their College of Nurses for professional misconduct for just this type of behaviour. I pray to God that each and everyone is able to present a letter such as this to help the lay person understand

  93. Pam Bielat says

    You truly are the heros of the hospital. I don’t think nurses get the respect they are due. Your letter brought tears to my eyes. My son’s girlfriend also works ICU and she is a star in my eyes for what she does, I could not do it so I am grateful for those who can. My grandmother was a nurse in the emergency room at Martin Place West (for those who remember when it was there) for as long as I can remember.She was dedicated, strong, and a women I loved and respected. Thank You and God Bless All of You!!!!

  94. Steve says

    I have been the one of the patients in the ICU. My wife and other family members told me of the wonderful care I received from a very responsible and caring ICU staff. I was moved to hospice, with all the ICU staff expecting I was being moved to where I would expire. 2 months later, I left the hospice care center and got to go home. A month later, I got to go back to the ICU and thank the staff for their comprehensive and tender, professional care. Several staff members provided me then, with big smiles and a few cried. I wanted them to see what their caring and love had done for me, and that their efforts were not in vain. I want to say thank you to you and all ICU members. As a retired police officer, I am very aware of the need for release valves. Again, thank you for all you do.

    • brieann.rn@gmail.com says

      Thank you so much for sharing! Your story is great! I’ve had a patient return to the unit like you did and it was such a blessing to see God’s healing. And thank you for what you do!

  95. Gina says

    Very well said! As a nurse myself I feel what you just wrote should be framed and placed in all hospitals and nursing facilities around. Being a nurse in general these are the reactions family members give. To be a strong nurse these are the things you have to do to keep yourself together. I thank you for writing this and believe if family members read this they to would be more understanding…it’s beautiful!

  96. says

    I have to admit to fighting tears reading this. My daughter is 5. This past summer my husband, me, our son,6, and daughter were watching Chronicles of Narnia. My daughter always cuddles with me. Sometimes, I am sandwiched between the two while my poor hubby feels like the outcast. I woke up next to my daughter on the couch. A very few minutes later she started screaming this scream from Hell. She was violently shaking. I thought she might be having a seizure. I made sure she was safe as my husband and son watched it, too. When she stopped, I begged her to open her pretty little eyes and look at me. She couldn’t. We know now, after a four day hospital, she had a night terror. My point is this. Without being a med student other than psychology, I carry a lot of medical knowledge as I carry two rare genetic disorders. You don’t go through life without hearing the terms for most things. When my baby wouldn’t wake up after two of these “spells”, I placed on my husbands chest and called 911. I told them she was either seizing or having a night terror and that I didn’t know which. When the ambulance came, I was a wreck. All of my CPR rules and uses were out the door. This is my baby. My little girl. I could not help her. Even in the ambulance on the way to the ER, she would have these “spells”. I kept putting fingers through her hair, talking to her, asking her to just look at me. Just let me know in some way you are ok. She couldn’t. The paramedics were certain she was seizing even though they never took her temp. They said she felt “hot” and wrote it off as a seizure. I wasn’t sure and my world was shattering watching and hearing my baby’s screams for me, even though I held her hand, rubbed her head, kissed her forehead and hands. She was in a locked room where only she could see the walls. I couldn’t get in. In all of my reading since, my daughter is a rare case as her night terror lasted for almost an hour. In the ER, with me standing at her head, still asking her to let me know she was ok, still kissing her, still begging for her to open those pretty little eyes. I was lost. My husband was lost. My daughter did not open her eyes for a few hours. But, after the thousandth kiss on her forehead, two hours after it all began, she puckered her lips for me to kiss her. I knew in that second, whatever was wrong, she would be ok. Whatever it was, she was back. I slept with her in her hospital bed. I was there 24/7 during the entire hospitalization. I went on the ambulance and did not leave until they dismissed her. I cried while she slept. My husband had to be home for our son, so I was up there with her alone. They came and stayed with us and with the technology of me having a laptop and he a computer at home, we communicated that way as I don’t have or use a cell phone, and of course he couldn’t be there with me all the time. While I had a very large dislike of the doctor taking care of her, I did love the nurses. They held my hand. They kept me informed. I am also disabled to my genetic disorders. I have two. Charcot Marie Tooth disease 1A, and Elhers Danlos Syndrome3. My daughter also has CMT, and we believe EDS3 like me. These don’t involve the brain in the way some think so there isn’t a tie in to either. One of the nurses looked it up. I was so glad she did. We had one nurse that came in once and left. My daughter and I require leg bracing to even walk. I am worse and can’t take steps without my fore-arm crutches or walker. Neither of which did we think to take. LOL! Braces for me on immediately as I knew my legs would surely buckle just with heartache, let alone my disability. The only “bad” nurse we had refused to come help my daughter when she had to go to the bathroom. My braces are metal bars on my shoes, which I can barely tie. Without them on, tied, and velcroed to y legs, I can’t stand, let alone help my own child to go to the bathroom. I fell off the bed trying to get them hoping to put them on so I could get her to the bathroom. No one cared to help until she starting yelling I had fallen. With all of the times I have spent in the hospital, with my oldest having meningitis at 13 months old, his dog bite from an attack for three days, now my little girl with night terrors, I have seen the good and the bad. Some are in it only for the income. Some are in it for the love. I think people forget we are all here together. We all need to help each other however we can. Whether it is a doctor, a nurse, a teacher, or just a mom like me. We all have times in our lives we laugh inappropriately. We cry when our hearts breaks. We are all human. Give the nurses credit where it is due. They are the ones that are fighting for you. They are the ones that will get to know you far more than the doc who sees you for 5 minutes. I love the nurses. Your jobs cannot be easy and I know I would not have the strength to do them. So, to all nurses, thank you from one mom, in a little town, who has been in your care.

  97. Sarah says

    I just want you to know that there are people out there that view you as walking angels, me being one of them. While I’m not a wife nor a Mom, I am a daughter and my parents are EVERYTHING to me. My Mom was in the hospital for over a month recently. During that grueling, gut wrenching, horrifically scary time, I don’t know what I would have done without all of the love, wonderful zaniness and positive energy that I received from the ICU nurses. I can assure you there was lots of singing….of Sound Of Music actually… as my Mom is British. I can’t tell you all the things that they did to both comfort my Mom (and me since I was living in the hospital). So please know this….I am so grateful…..and so are many, many other family members that do recognize the value that you bring to your calling (because it’s not a job, it’s a calling). May God Bless ALL OF YOU.

  98. says

    From one critical care nurse to another, well said. Can I print and frame this and put in on our unit? It is a lovely way to attempt to bridge the gap of priorities between the family and nurse with grace. Well written!

  99. Heather says

    GOD BLESS! who ever wrote this article. Those of you who do what you do are truly blessings sent from God and I could not even begin to imagine the inner turmoil that you are forced to deal with on a daily basis. My husband was in ICU for 1 month, it was the most antagonizing experience I have ever encountered but I can say with such love, warmth and understanding that if it wasn’t for my ICU nurses and their love and caring hearts I would have crumbled as a family member. He was in a medically induced coma most of his visit in ICU and it was the love compassion and understanding that got me through most days. Thank you for all you do!!! You truly are blessings from the lord above.

  100. says

    I love this letter! As a respiratory therapist, I to am there at the start , the ending and all that goes in between of life. I see the distress and sorrow in so many faces including mine as did this nurse writing this letter. We too feel the grief of families and patients, we comfort those in need and even pray with those who request. I am the person who removes the endotracheal tube that causes the mother, father or child to expire or live. We along with the nurses try to comfort those families .. and I to have cried many times with the families and also behind closed doors because the sadness overcomes me. But it is the career I have chosen and I wouldn’t change it ever. I know that with all those who pass there are so many that live! That alone gives me the strength to continue. I understand how confusing it is for families to see us de-stressing with a joke or singing *the latter is me to a T*. I wish all families could read what This nurse wrote. It was such a beautiful letter and worded it so eloquently!

  101. Midge says

    I spent many hours at my mother’s bedside in the months before she died. I was 8 hours from home and lived in my camper in the hospital parking lot for the last 2 months of Mother’s life. She was in a regular ward (not ICU), but the care she received was top notch. Her nurses tried to follow the rule that says you can’t get emotionally involved, but Mother was the kind of woman that people naturally loved. I know that her nurses gave her the best care that they knew how to give, and they were always ready to answer our questions. When Mom finally breathed her last, by brother and I were with her, as were two nurses. They left us alone with her for a few minutes, and then we left so they could take her body away. As we left her room, I caught a glimpse of those two nurses holding onto each other and weeping. They were in a spot where they thought no one would see them, but that touching sight will be with me as long as I live. Praise God for caring nurses!
    May I ask which hospital you work at?
    God bless you.
    Midge

  102. Irene Squib says

    ICU nurses are very special people. They have to be, to stand up to all the pain and heartache they deal with every day. I had the honor to work with Deb Jordan at Telford for several years before she followed her heart and returned to her beloved ICU. We missed her, but we also knew that the blessings patient’s receive when Deb cares for them are unbelievable.

    Thank you for the beautiful letter you wrote. I know every word came straight from your heart.

    IRENE (Retired LVN)

  103. Candice says

    Wow this is so well written!! And so true! I am an ICU nurse and we have to be quirky to get through our days:) I would love to share this with all of my patients family:)

  104. Stacey says

    You are amazing. Thank You, and nurses like you everywhere. If it were not for incredible spirits like yourself I would not still be here. Keep fighting the good fight. <3

  105. Karen says

    I have written my comment 3 times, but keep deleting it. I truthfully have no words to describe the level of care & compassion I received from my nurses while bleeding out in the unit after a thoracotomy. Not to mention, it was my 30th b-day. Not to mention that it was the nurses who called my surgeon back while he was driving home, believing I was stable. No, they knew better. I honestly remember about 1 min total of a 7 day time frame, but one memory makes me smile everyday. I knew I was in bad shape, the nurses were very honest. As they were prepping everything & waiting for a family member to see me & say good-bye I remember crying for a sip of water to rinse all the blood out of my mouth. I knew I couldn’t drink it & the nurse knew I knew that. So, I took a sip, rinsed my mouth & spit it out. Nice & simple. But, at that exact moment, anesthesia walked in & saw what I had water. They of course freaked out & started screaming at my nurse who explained that I didn’t drink, I only rinsed. I understand their concern but it was the kindness & compassion of my nurse that 10 years later stayed with me. They held my hand while I screamed in pain beyond pain since I was not allowed pain meds. They rubbed my head & sang to me while I had a 4th chest tube placed. They knew I was in bad shape & allowed my family to be with me as much as possible, even if it made their job harder. I truthfully do not have the words to express mine & my family’s gratitude for all that they did. How you do that day in and day out proves that God has his little angels on earth watching over us & protecting us. Thank you for doing what you do, even if it is a tiny sip of water.

  106. Nancy says

    I’ve been in the ICU and so has my husband (in different hospitals). We both received stellar care by gruff/loving/gentle/kind/firm/caring/brilliantly capable nurses. They always knew the right time for each attitude – even if it seemed, just then, out of tune with the moment. It was always just right. We salute you!!

  107. Shaun says

    How lovely, Made me ‘well up’ and as a man I’m not affraid to admit that. You and every Nurse, Doctor, surgeon, Paramedic etc, do such a fantastic job, and none of you receive the recognition that you deserve.

    I can not imagination how it feels to lose someone in your care, like wise I can not imagination how it feels to save someone who was on the brink of death, but you all need a way to deal with that, that I can understand.

    Please take this hug {(((())))} and use it in a moment of need, cos I know that someone, caring like yourself will be there if I ever need you.

  108. Jenny Hoffer says

    As a “frequent flyer” of ICUs since a very young age, I must say thank you for re confirming my belief that ICU nurses and staff – no matter their behavior or mood at any given time – are some of the most wonderful people on Earth. Bless you all for the difference you make in the lives of your patients and their loved ones.

  109. Brandy Johnson says

    This is so beautifully written. I am so thankful for Nurses like you. One of my good friends is an ICU nurse and I hear all the time about all the good things and bad things that happen in the ICU. I just hope and pray that if I’m ever in that situation, I get an amazing nurse just like you!

  110. Cheryl Arnold says

    Well written being a nurse myself I know your feelings well I never worked in ICU but I was an IV therapist for 15 plus years and have gone to many Code Blues in the unit. It truly amazed me how you nurses that work critical care keep your sanity my hat goes off to you are truly blessed by the all mighty. here’s a well deserved pat on the back for a job well done. I have often prayed before going into a patients room but for guidance to help find a vein on a difficult stick and prayer works. Keep up the good work.I truly miss going to work every day but I sure love retirement
    .have a great day

  111. Jean Pearcey says

    I truly believe all nurses were angels in their previous life. ICU nurses are very special but in my case after open heart surgery I didn’t have the opportunity of thanking her/him personally as I had no recollection of that part of my recovery. When I did come to I was in the step-down unit and more receently my husband had brain surgery and they were equally as good, absolutely amazing actually. I would like to take this opportunity to thank all the nurses at Foothills Medical Center.

  112. says

    Dear ICU and PICU nurse’s,

    Thank you for your jolly songs and, hallway jokes and caring hearts. I am a bereaved mother to a little boy named Gabriel who is forever 5. He was special needs and spent the majority of his 5 years in PICU. Every nurse i came in contact with would brighten my day as i laid by his bed. You are human and deserve to laugh while working and try to make the best out if a bad situation. Your positive energy always gave me a positive outlook on the situations i was put in with my little boy. Thank you from the bottom of my heart. :)

  113. Greta says

    Thank-you for your article. I am an ICU nurse and I needed this article. It helps to know we all share the same experiences.

  114. cathy says

    Both of my daughters are nurses. Let me just say this I never realized how much nurses have to do until they became one. And they do fight for their patients with the doctors that is true. It’s a really hard job. They are over worked,and understaffed for the most part. I don’t want to say under paid, because they make a good living, maybe they could make more for all they do. As could any HARD working person. Maybe we should take a look at the people who make millions for entertaining us. Like sports players, movie stars. Or maybe the people who we pay to run our goverment, which 90% of them do nothing. This country needs help and lets hope it comes before its to late. Maybe I got a little off track. Sorry but I do believe that nurses are, for the most part kind hearted people, so give them a break. Love to all NURSES.

  115. Kim says

    I read this and think…sometimes we do the wackiest things! …singing…laughing…joking… but there are many shifts that I look back on where we are literally giving everything we have to save a baby in our NICU.
    We watch parents go through the worst nightmare they couldn’t even have imagined.
    I remember one situation in particular where the baby was so unstable, we couldn’t even move him to the OR and did surgery at the bedside…after working all afternoon/evening, we lost the baby at the end of the surgery. I’ve never cried like I did that day…never felt so drained…we gave everything we had and more…yet it’s still not enough sometimes. It can make you feel helpless.
    Thank you for this uplifting “letter” which inspires me to keep doing what I’m doing.

  116. well no says

    Well, to be devil’s advocate, it doesn’t matter for what purpose did u sing, as long as you made the family uncomfortable, they are allowed to pointed out <– this may seem unfair, but it's as fair as you think you're entitled to calm yourself. It's like when people being discriminated said they don't like how they're being treated, and the person being called out is like, i'm didn't "intend" to hurt you, and now you're hurting me!

    You're a professional, you need to remain professional the whole time. You may think it's too much to ask from you but it's actually the minimum that the public expects, you simply don't sing when others are dying.

    But it's not like you are a bad person for just singing once. Everyone is allowed to correct themselves, even when they're not wrong. Now you've been told what makes other feel uncomfortable, stop doing those! They are controling themselves too, cuz they could report you, and could make ur life more difficult but they understand you're trying your best.

    I have a lot of respect for nurses and i have a lot of nurse friends. I'm responding to your justification of singing to a dying person and that you feel the family shouldn't tell you what they feel. Other than this tiny bit of disagreement, I fully respect you and wish you best in your career.

    • brieann.rn@gmail.com says

      Thank you for commenting. I think. I might ask you to read my post again. I don’t recall ever saying I sang while someone was dying. That is a bit inappropriate don’t you think? No, I have the ability to control myself. That’s why I AM a professional. I am trained to conduct myself in a manner that respects the patient and family, especially in an emotionally tense situation. But thanks for playing the devil’s advocate. This was fun.

    • Jerry James says

      I have been in ICU on more than one ocassion, and I appreciated the nurses being calm. And whatever they had to do to remain calm was perfectly alright with me. So, WELL NO, you are totally off base.Nurses under Stress would and could be deadly for severely ill patients.. Stress tends to cloud a persons judgement and reactions. NURSES, keep singing, laughing, joking or doing whatever it takes to work your miracles. GOD BLESS YOU ALL. My 2 daughters, both are RN’s.

  117. Rebecca says

    This is the best thing ever!!! Thank you for writing!! It’s something so many of us have dealt with and haven’t said!! The best!! xx

  118. krystal says

    I can only imagine what my parents, grandparents,aunts,uncles and cousins were going through when I was in a coma for about a day and half after I was hit by car and rushed to a US hospital being from Canada. I was only 15 and my glasgow coma scale went from like a 15 to an 8 just on the way to my Canadian hospital. Everyone met the ambulance at the hospital and I’m sure the staff was amazing not that i remember being only 15 at the time.

  119. Paula says

    Wonderfully written. It hurts my heart when people don’t understand at all,…but how could they? You absolutely hit the nail on the head. The BIG picture couldn’t have been explained better! Job well done !

  120. Tom Parmenter says

    Dear Brie,

    I am one of the lucky ones. My heart stopped beating but a friend was there and called 911. In less than 3 minutes, the Newton MA fire department was there and got my heart beating again. In half an hour or so I was at Mass General Hospital (I’m sure you’ve heard of it.) They lowered my body temperature and put me on medication to control shivering, basically suspended animation. I came out of it, but still had C-Diff and pneumonia and intubation and a dozen more things that needed treatment. After I came around, I was in Kindred Rehab for ten days tuneup, then back to MGH for further treatment.

    So many nurses, doctors, and CNAs came by to tell me they had taken care of me that I began to think something was up. I’m pretty sure however successful they are, medical workers don’t get many chances to say they are “ecstatic”, that they are “amazed”, that someone (me) is a “miracle patient”. All I could say was “I hope I didn’t hit you and if I did I’m sorry.” I understand now that I was fighting in my own way. Most of them said all they remembered was me smiling and singing and they all were so proud of their part in my recovery.

    I’m a writer, so naturally I’m writing about this experience. My opening sentence is “To be a miracle patient in the greatest hospital in the country is a truly humbling experience.” Everybody asked me if I had seen the “white light” or had any mystical experiences. I said I had only met a lot of angels in human form, not only nurses, but doctors and the CNAs who sat in my room watching over me all night. I came to admire so many people. I used to watch the guy washing the floor with infinite care, It was easy to see he’d been trained in his part in controlling infection.

    As one writer to another you’ve done an excellent job. When I finish my memoir I’ll try to get a copy to you.

    Tom Parmenter

    • brieann.rn@gmail.com says

      Thanks so much for the great comment. I would love to read that Tom. Interestingly enough, I have written a Christian Memoir myself. We may have to trade.

  121. Beth says

    Thank you for writing so eloquently. As a neuro ICU RN for 20+ years you have voiced my heart exactly. I wept not only when I read your post but for many of the comments as well. (My daughters are concerned for me- lol). I am amazed daily by my colleagues who work with patients in every setting- RN, CNA, RT, PT, OT, RPH, MD, SW, Chaplains- and the resilient patients and families we care for. We all “pack each others parachute”, don’t we? Again, thank you all!

    • brieann.rn@gmail.com says

      Thank you for the great comment. I’m right there with you on the crying. I’ll share my Kleenex. Thank God for teamwork in those situations. Thanks again.

  122. Rebekah says

    That was very well written… It reminded me of all the times I was in ICU and saw this but I knew the underlying reason… An ICU nurse is a very special nurse and I cannot thank them enough for keeping me alive for the past 4 years….

  123. Kary says

    As an ICU/CCU nurse I have done all the things you spoke about. We put on a brave face for those around and yes we do some silly things that the lay pesone doesn’t understand but it is one of our coping mechanisms. After all we are human. I wish all familes could read this and maybe they would be more understanding. Thanks for putting into words what many of us think and do.

  124. Emi says

    Personally, I hope, wether I’m the one on the bed or the one next to it, that I’ll hear nurses singing, joking and laughing, to remind us, in these hard times, what life is really about.

  125. Katie says

    This is so fitting for so much of the work I’ve over the years; ER, hospice, taking care of war-torn kids. Thank you for your care, dedication, love and respect for your patients! And for putting into such lovely words what many of us feel.

  126. Nia says

    I would dearly love to print this & display in our relatives room, unfortunately I’m sure management wouldn’t approve!!!! Thank you for putting our thoughts into words xxx

  127. Becca says

    My husband is awaiting a kidney/pancreas transplant in the near future, and will need a day or two in ICU after the surgery. When he has it, I will think of your letter, and no matter how worried I am, I will try to be patient with his nurses when they are busy, and thankful to them for everything they are doing. When they sing I will smile, nd maybe join in! I always try to be nice to nurses, you all do amazing jobs, and have been the difference between life and death for my husband so many times. You have given me hope and courage, and have even taught me how to do home dialysis, making my hisbands life infinitely better. And you have inspired me, when my husband is recovering, to become a nurse myself, and do for others what so many of you have done for me. Thank you for writing this, and reminding me, and thank you for helping so many people with so much of your heart.

    • brieann.rn@gmail.com says

      Thank you so much for commenting and sharing so personally. I am touched. I’m praying now for your husband and you.

  128. Carolyn says

    I’ve not read all of this yet, however I can remember sitting down by the wife of a man who had just died and singing to her. I sang a Christian gospel song. Then I told her to go sit by her husband’s side and tell him the things you didn’t get to tell him. She did and when another nurse asked her if she wanted a drink of water she turned and said, “No think you, she (meaning me) gave me the living water.” Another time I stood next to the bed with hands on rail and sang such a song to a lady while she died. In another setting, another hospital, I was called the holy nurse who sang. I didn’t go around singing out loud, just when it seemed appropriate and not for myself. I was a singer but nursing was my profession. I was a traveling nurse working for agencies. However, there was a time when I took care of brain injured children. A couple of them had tape players by their bed and we were told to play the music for them when we fed them via stomach tube and gave them their medicine. I knew the songs so I sang to those children. Singing was not a release for me. It was soothing to these patients. For one teen patients, some of the nurse’s aids would change the music to rock and noisy music when they performed their duties with this teen. That music would irritate the child to the point of agitation. She was not in a coma but close to it, a high level. She could not do anything but move her eyes and turn her head. The aids had to be told to leave the music on the station that played soft easy listening music and preferably classical. That was the music that kept that teen calm. I had yet another elderly patient in a nursing home. He did not speak until the day a preacher man and a person from the same church went around room to room singing church songs to the residents. It happened in this particular resident’s room where I went in to give him his medicine that I knew the song the preacher was playing on his guitar and I sang with them. But I was standing next to the resident who was in bed, and sang to him. This resident started trying to sing the song too…simply Jesus Loves You. I read the full history on this man and learned he had been a preacher. And I started signing those kinds of children church songs when i gave him his medicine. I started working with him with simple words like the peach at his bedside. I shared this with the speech therapist. She did not know he had been a preacher and she too started using music therapy with him. This man started talking again. Music therapy at that time had not started being used with brain injury patients. But for this resident, the therapist started using it with success. Music is a type of communication and is important. Don’t knock it.

  129. Rachel says

    My son was 7 months old when he had open heart surgery, and due to complications he ended up spending 2 months in the PICU. It was nurses like you and the good Lord, that helped to make me feel like I could get through, everything, even watching him desat while everyone in the room panicked and the doctor tried to intubate him in time. It was the nurses like you who encouraged me to leave and eat and bathe, and sleep when I didn’t want to leave my baby boy’s side. It was nurses like you that explained everything to me and my husband so that we felt completely included in our son’s care. So thank you for all that you do!

    • brieann.rn@gmail.com says

      Thank you so much. It sounds like you had a great team at your side. God bless you and your family.

  130. says

    As the mother of a medically fragile child, we have spent a lot of time in the PICU. He’s trached and vent/oxygen dependent. I sometimes try to tell people who are coming to visit that the PICU people are an irreverent, obnoxious, noisy bunch, but that’s okay. That’s how I can “live” there for weeks at a time. It has to be that way or you’d lose you mind. And as long as they’re acting that way, it’s all good. It’s the silence that descends on the rest of the unit when a Code is called, the lack of joking and efficiency that is there when things are going south that scares me and I pray harder than I already was. I like those people, a LOT. But what I tell them is I’d really rather we could just meet up for lunch, and I never want to see 3 attendings at my child’s bedside at 2 in the morning again. Bless the ICU staff everywhere. It takes a special kind of person to do what they do. And I am so grateful to them for doing it.

  131. Teresa says

    I thank all ICU nurses. Having been a patient in ITU for a week, the cheeriness of the nurses was so important to the recovery of the patients. For a while I did not want to recover, I couldn’t face the time ahead.. but the nurses were so positive it rubbed off on me…. God Bless you ITU nurses…. you are appreciated by all who have spent time with you. x x x

  132. Kathleen Mc says

    Brie,

    I read your blog last night along with most of the comments. I have to say I had a difficult time sleeping from all of the thoughts and emotions you have stirred up inside of me.
    I feel as though I know you well although we have never met. I saw you care for my 6 yr old son after heart surgery, while I slept in his room you stayed up all night checking his meds, BP, and blood gasses, 2 days later I watched when you and your friends rushed in his room and preformed CPR, you hugged me the next day and taught me all about ECMO. When the boy in the room next to us passed away I saw that you were doing your best for my sake not to let on what happened. When you saw the tired look in my eyes and saw that living in the hospital for weeks without stepping into the outside world was taking a toll on me you insisted I go for a walk, and would sit right next to my son until I returned. I saw so many horrible things that I never imagined possible happen to my little boy….a boy who sat on Santa’s lap days before walking into pre op. With your help I was able to do my job to stay calm for him. My story does not end well. After 3 months in the CICU at one of the best Children’s hospitals in the country I got to know so many amazing people. My job was an extremely difficult one, it was a job I had no training for and I didn’t ask for …..it was thrust upon me. Thank you to all of you ICU workers out there; your story is often untold and your dedication is only known to the unfortunate few who have to witness first hand.

    • brieann.rn@gmail.com says

      I can’t thank you enough for taking the time to share your personal story with me. It touched my heart more than you know and brought me to tears. I can’t imagine the strength you must possess. I think we would be very good friends. Right at this moment I am praying for you my friend. May God cover you with His peace that surpasses all understanding, and comfort you in His arms.

  133. An ICU nurses mother says

    Excellent writing. I don’t know how many days I’ve seen my child, an ICU RN cry after her shift. It takes a very special person to be an ICU nurse, for there are other nurses in our family that would never work the unit. Kudos to all of you ICU nurses who are so dedicated to your jobs and providing the wonderful care that you do to your patients. God Bless you all!

  134. Jason says

    God bless you for what you do, I have people close to me that are ICU nurses, and I often hear about what they do. You must be a special person to do what you do, keep up the great work!
    Hopefully what you wrote and the reactions and replies will provide another source of strength to draw from in your most trying times.

  135. Ashley says

    My son was very sick, and the student doctor on the regular floor had given him the wrong medication. He started to decline and was moved to ICU, he cried because he was in pain, and after standing at his crib and patting him for hours on end, the nurse came and he was so sweet and kind and he promised to comfort my two year old for a little while so I could sleep even if only for a second. The next day he passed away in his sleep, but the nurses on that floor and the doctors worked to bring him back for over 2 hours. The surgeon who saved his life at a month old stood in the hallway with the ID specialist, and the liver doc, the renal doc and every nurse that loved on him in NICU and during his stays on the renal and g.i floors. They all stood in the hallway with their heads bowed in prayer begging for him to stay. It is a sight to behold when you see how much our little boy touched the lives of all these other people. And he is missed every second of every day. But they all cared, they all loved him in a special way…

    • Ashley says

      I might have forgotten to add that the nurse never left his side and patted his little butt the way he liked until he finally after 14 hrs of constant crying was able to fall asleep. And still he stayed in case he woke up…

    • brieann.rn@gmail.com says

      Thank you so very much for sharing your story with me. I am blessed by all the wonderful people like yourself who have taken time to comment and share their lives. God bless you dear Mommy. I am praying for you as I type.

  136. says

    Thank you Brie,
    Such a wonderful writing and such a true portrait of
    All of us working in ICU, that’s not even half of of what
    We face every dày as we do,after working in ICU, CPU for over 40 years of my life. I love what I did, just retired. Thank God. For giving me such a life, to take care of his brothers, sisters, mothers, fathers, children, etc. I feel as though that’s my purpose in this world, not a easy job, but very rewarding, hopefully the new generations that we have now see this job as such.
    GOD’S GIVEN PURPOSES. To take care of his people.
    Hang in there it’s gets better as long as your hearts is there when you do your job.

    • brieann.rn@gmail.com says

      Thank you so much for the wonderful and encouraging comment. You have it spot-on my friend. God calls us to this in Nursing, but also in every facet of life. God bless you.

  137. Di says

    This definitely describes the way it is in ICU. Even still, we still take home stresses from the job – several of us in my ICU just compared personal stories and found out we have dental problems from grinding our teeth in our sleep. Nowadays there an added stress of ‘doing more with less’ so singing, or laughing a bit during the day doesn’t mean we don’t care – we are doing our best to keep the stress from totally taking us down. Thank you Brieann for an insightful post.

  138. Rod says

    Almost 9 years ago, I spent 100 days in an ICU/CCU. I had a lot of nurses, most were wonderful. They were professional and caring and all that your describe. Some were borderline psychotic, I think. They saved my life time and time again. I can never repay that. I’m here to inspire those without hope to know that miracles happen. Prayers get answered. I’ll never be the man I was physically, but perhaps I’m better in many other ways. I still maintain contact with 5 or 6 nurses from my “time of great unpleasantness”. I even wrote a book to say thanks to the many doctors, nurses and therapist whose path I croseed along the way. I titled it, “1,661,220 Inches”. ( The number of inches in a marathon ). So, to Lea Ann, Melody, Michelle, Denise, and Roger, thanks for caring and for doing your job the best you could and for the gravy I’ve been living the past 9 years.

    • brieann.rn@gmail.com says

      Thanks for the comment and sharing your story. I’ll bet your memoir is very inspirational! Thanks again.

  139. Michelle Dick says

    Thank you so much for your letter. My husband is an ICU nurse and you described who he is to a T. God bless each and every one of you as you do your best to care for the sick and often dying. You are angels!

  140. Bobbye says

    I have had many health issues over the years that have ended up with me in yet another o.r. and hospital bed. Cancer 3 times, 3 strokes, osteomyalitis, pacemakers and a hole in my heart. This summer I had a severe bout with sepsis and almost died. This was my first experience with icu. I had open heart surgery so they could remove all foreign materials from inside me. Pacemaker and wires…port…and my phone device. They were all infected. I am so sick of hospitals that I tend to not be the best patient, no fault of wonderful nurses like yourself but just through all my experiences. My Mother stayed with me the whole time, 6 weeks and I am 44 years old. Not because of inadequate care but because we knew there would be times when I couldn’t wait to go to the bathroom or for other things because there were other people who were just as sick if not sicker than I. The care I received from the whole staff Dr’s and nurses was top notch. When I was finally able to walk around the floor I would get applause or way to go from staff that hadn’t even taken care of me. I promise if there is a next time, my attitude will be much different and that is in part because of my experience in icu and your touching and kind words. Thank you for sharing!

  141. Yolanda says

    As an OR nurse I have a lot of interaction with the ICU nurses at my facility. And I have seen some of the things that you just spoke about. I t made me consider how my patient’s families may preceive us as we conduct our assessments. We try to laugh, joke and relive some of the stress the families are dealing with. I always encourage love ones to give their family member a kiss, before I wheel them away. You also brought to mind my mother as she laid dying in the ICU and the warmth and compassion shown to my family. Niether myself or daughter informed the staff that we were in the medical field, as I didn’t want the staff to feel they needed to give us any special treatment. You brought tears to my eyes as I was reading your article. I thank God that he has allowed me to be apart of such a wonderful profession over these past 40 years.

  142. Justin says

    This is awesome! Well said indeed! I work in a trauma ICU, and I think we should put this letter in the patient/family folder for every new admission. I may talk to my director about it. Would you mind?

    • brieann.rn@gmail.com says

      Not at all. I only ask that when my post is shared that I am given credit, along with my site, as originator. Thank you.

    • brieann.rn@gmail.com says

      Thank you. That would be fine. I just ask that you list me and my site as originating author at bottom of letter.

  143. Lori says

    I have been on both sides, as a ER and Forensic RN and as a family member…..very eloquent and “spot on”. Thank you for sharing you heart with everyone, your patients, family members, your coworkers, and your peers.

  144. Lorraine says

    Is there anything a person can say to a nurse that will show you that we understand why you’re laughing/singing or whatever and we appreciate you?

  145. says

    Oh, wow! I’m so glad you sent me the link to this! What a poignant letter. My mother-in-law actually works ambulatory care and ICU. I’m printing this off for her, too. :D

  146. Rasha Bitar says

    I owe my life to my ICU Nurses and Doctors!! They are so tough and always remain level headed. They are angels on earth! Can’t thank them enough for all they do. My nurses even let my mom and family sleep in my ICU room with me. So they could be close to me and not leave my side.

  147. Jan says

    Dear ICU Nurse,
    Eleven years ago yesterday, my 3 1/2 year old grandson passed after a very long battle. I wept reading your letter. The saddest part is that my son only remembers the last two months of his son’s life. The time he spent in the PICU and BMT unit. Sadly those are his only memories of his son. I admire your ability to work in the ICU. I’m sure the angels are right by your side, guiding you as you work. And keep singing, that’s good medicine for your patients as well.

  148. says

    I would love to have your permission to share this on my kindness blog. It was beautiful. Both my 67 year old mother and 31 year old sister in law passed away last year and spent time in The ICU. Their care was amazing. Thank you for sharing this.

    • brieann.rn@gmail.com says

      Thank you for the comment. Thanks for asking. You may share. I only ask that you include a link to my site and full credit be given to this site for ownership of the material.

  149. Sharon Chaet says

    My daughter an RN-BSN_CCU nurse and so proud of her !!! This letter has really touched me..I forget at times that all your emotions at times can release when you get home from a 12 hr night shift..visitors and relatives don’t realize that nurses maybe sing or dance around ICU patients to relieve stress and tension of their job…I will be a grandmother soon !!! and had a son 37 yr ago that died at 11 months from a genetic disorder…that I will hug my grandchild a little harder…my RN daughter has a fiancé,a sister, her sister has a wife, and 3 granddogs,they are the light of my life !!!

  150. says

    Thank you for this well written – beautifully explained and touching letter….yes, I cried….I couldn’t help it…I too have had my love ones in hospitals, ICU and probably thought the same way other’s patients families thought….but I also thought: “I could never do what these nurses do, it takes a real angel to do their jobs”…..so please know, a lot of us understand and THANK YOU….and offer our prayers to YOU as well.

  151. says

    We who work at Ronald McDonald Houses worldwide have such intense gratitude for each one who works so hard in the fight for all of the lives of our little House Heroes. Thank you for sharing this incredible insight. And THANK YOU for everything that you and all of the PICU nurses and doctors around the globe do for our little loved ones. <3

  152. Suzanne says

    Thank you so much for sharing this with all of us! I am a cardiovascular ICU nurse and halfway through this decided I would try to read this to my husband. I couldn’t finish reading it because I started crying. The dam broke loose. I don’t know how many times I have been in the position of trying to relieve my stress by singing that tune (which I can’t sing, so hopefully I’ll just hum it), or sharing a laugh that might seem inappropriate at the time. People have no clue what nurses truly go through…not even my husband who has to hear me share my vague stories from time to time. It is rewarding when you have those patient’s and family members who applaud your efforts and truly appreciate you being there for them and their family member.

    • brieann.rn@gmail.com says

      Thank you so much for the comment. It makes my heart happy when my writer can stir emotion in others. Keep up the great work.

  153. says

    What a poignant piece. ICU nurses and doctors have to be among the bravest and most caring practitioners of all. When we as family members of very sick people are scared out of our wits, we aren’t always the nicest people to have around. I have never run into rude or short-tempered ICU staffs, and I am so thankful for what you do. – Fawn

  154. john_the_medic says

    You said it all, and not just for ICU nurses.

    EMS is the same way.

    Thank you for saying what needed to be said.

  155. LylaJeanne says

    I have been in the ICU a couple of times as a patient. I have enjoyed the ‘inappropriate’ singing, talking, esp. the joking. It helped me escape the fear, agony, and helplessness, if only for a fraction of a second. The last time I was in was after a 10 1/2 hour surgery…, 2 teams of surgeons, a 360º table that rotated so that they could do surgery to remove faulty hardware that had been inserted & drilled into my spine 7 years previously THEN they flipped me over to go in THRU my abdomene to rewire my spine with titanium. With the first surgery I had some serious complications and the nurses saved my life. My surgeon didn’t adequately check on me, the doctor doing rounds didn’t care and I was spiraling into shock b/c the ’rounds’ doc didn’t know (or care) that I have a huge physical tolerance for pain meds and the pain was intolerable. The nurses knew that if they bumped my meds with benydryl I could get “on top” of the pain incline and start actually recovering. I wrote them a long (& rambling~~I was loopy on pain meds for a long, long time) letter thanking them for saving me. They were the only reason I managed to get through that time or the last time. I LOVE the ICU staff and am grateful for all caring nurses everywhere. Thank you all!!! You are all very human AND you gave a damn enough to go to school so you could help people like me. Thank you from the bottom of my heart!

  156. Jeannette Van Houten says

    Thank you for being the nurse that laughs sings and jokes around. My father is currently in ICU and as grave as the situation, I know my family is thankful the love and care that has been offered to us. If my dad was able to speak for himself, he would be giving you things to laugh, joke and sing about. But right now he needs to hear all the laughter, songs and jokes he can this way he knows he is still part of this world. Thank you !

  157. Kathryn says

    Thank you so much for this. My twin boys 22 years ago were in nicu. Then last year the same day my husband had a stroke, and was in ICU for 10 days. All his nurses were amazing. You are all angels. And ALL his therapist were amazing too!

  158. says

    As one of the newer nurses in the CTICU at a major Level 1 Trauma Center, this article could not have come at a better time: wonderfully written; perfectly poignant; echoing what every critical care nurse feels but cannot quite put into words. Thank you for encapsulating exactly why we need to laugh and sing and dance and play so we can give and love and protect and cry. The greatest challenge about working in an environment where life hangs in the balance literally every single day is understanding how powerful this role becomes. Not only are your patient’s lives in your hands, you are the lifeline between the family and their loved ones. Living and dying pervade our every action, and sometimes we have done all we can yet feel like we’ve failed. This job is not for everyone, and yet every ICU nurse in my unit seems to be born to embrace the role. Nursing is truly a calling, and I thank you for sharing this letter with the world <3

  159. Kelsie says

    I honestly have to say ICU nurses have saved my life from an incident back in 2012. ICU/PICU nurses I believe have the toughest job since not just anyone can deal with the ICU/PICU. I thank all the ICU nurses for what they do! God Bless you and all the other ICU nurses out there!

  160. Deborah says

    I was brought to tears…..this story really touched me……My hat goes off to all that goes into the medical field…..especially working in the ICU units…….thanks for all that you do……When my mom was in the ICU UNIt i saw howhard they work…..so cuddos to all that work in the ICU……..

  161. says

    I normally just read post but this one I have to comment on. What a letter. Fantastic!!! Being on a med/surg floor in a medicare dependent area with increased work loads and higher patient acuity, I think all nurses can relate.

  162. Kristin says

    Thanks for all you do. After watching my dad in the ICU for a month and having him pass away when I was just 18 was very difficult. We had wonderful nurses. Some even brought us treats. I am sure they knew my dad was not well but we’re positive. Then about 8 months ago, my mom became very ill and passed away 3 weeks later. I am grateful for the efforts of our nurses because they are the ones always there. Thank you for all you do. I appreciate you.

    • brieann.rn@gmail.com says

      Thank you so much for commenting and sharing personally with me. God bless you, and may He give you comfort. Thanks again.

  163. Kikay sha says

    well said… so true. Beautifully written. Touched my heart.
    I work in a step down unit and I can relate.
    I’m asking permission to print your article and share it to my co workers. I wish I can post this to patients room and waiting area.
    Thank you for writing and sharing.
    God bless

    • brieann.rn@gmail.com says

      Thank you so much for the kind comment. Yes, you may share. I only ask that you give credit to me and my website as originator of the post you print. Thanks again.

  164. Emily says

    what an absolutely beautiful piece of writing – i cried my eyes out. having recently spent time myself in an icu unit following heart surgery, i fully appreciate the work you incredible, wonderful people do. you are utterly amazing, thank you for being there for us.

  165. Alison says

    Thank you for this.
    It is so true and to hear someone be so honest about it is refreshing.
    You don’t understand unless you have worked in an ICU.
    I’m a doctor and it often falls to me to break bad news & explain all the tubes & machines I have put in their loved one.
    If you let it get to you, you could never work another day.
    You need to see the big picture – we do all we can and we have to laugh otherwise we cry.
    But it is also a blessing – it makes me appreciate life & all it’s intricacies better than any other profession or even specialty within medicine.
    ICU is the noblest and hardest of all medical specialties and all that do it are truly special.

  166. KT says

    Thank you for this. While the comments here are positive and they are greatly appreciated, nursing is a thankless job most of the time. Many times after an arrest we hide in the sluice and cry even if the outcome is positive. We laugh about the situations we’ve experienced with patients, humourous to us but at the time, very much a near miss! I once had a relative complain about me using the words “you’re stuffing your face while we are waiting to be seen!” This was 18:00 and I started my shift at 7am and that bite of donut was all I’d eaten that day.

    Thank you for this post. And thank you to those who thank the nurses, it means more than you could ever know xx

  167. Anuradha Balakrishnan says

    Spoken so truly. Have seen my loved ones in ICU. And thecare that you take means so much. I wont lie.. Even I have complained about indefference in attitudes in nurses, only to realize that they were probably fretting on how to save a patient or how to improve my wards condition! Many of us actually forget that at the end of the day even you have emotions and are as much a human being as us. A very heartfelt thank you from the guardians of all the ICU patients… :)

  168. Lori B says

    After being in the ICU for 25 years this letter pretty well summarized everything so well! I am printing off to post in our break room ! Way to go my fellow sister ICU nurse. Thank you so much

    • brieann.rn@gmail.com says

      Thank you so much. If you don’t mind please include my site address as originator when you redistribute. Thanks again.

  169. Doug Boudreau says

    Hey,
    I know you. I don’t know you personally, but I know you. I’ve known you from the time I was a nervous medical, through my residency, and through my working career.
    You have been my teacher and my confidant. You have ben my eyes and ears and hands. You are often my second brain. You have seen me at my best and my worst. I’ve growled at you over the phone. I sreal your pen constantly. I take you for granted every day. And you still take care of me and baby me and get me coffee. You elevate my game. Sometimes we say more with a glance than any words could do, especially when the shit is raining down. I honestly try to tell you as much as I can how much I appreciate you, but we both know I don’t do it enough.
    So thank you. I could not do my job without you. I love you in a way that’s hard to put into words. Thanks for wiping every ass and changing every bed, for starting every iv and hanging every drip. Thank you personally for writing this. Although I won’t see you personally later today. I will see you. And I’ll give you a hug and thank you again, and you’ll wonder what’s gotten into me, but then you’ll go back to your job.
    Thank you,
    Your Doctor

    • brieann.rn@gmail.com says

      Thank you. I really enjoyed reading this one. And yes, I do know you. Your appreciation means more than you know! But I would still like my pen back!
      Thanks again Doc.

    • brieann.rn@gmail.com says

      Thank you. I enjoyed reading this. And yes, I do know you. Your appreciation means a lot! But I would still like my pen back!

  170. emotional says

    wow…………..this is so beautiful. I was just going to weep while reading it, but controlled myself due to my sick child sitting beside and watching me.
    Just loved the way you poetically described such a big thing of us nurses so easily.
    Loved it a lot………best of luck for ur next thought.

  171. Nicky says

    What an amazing thing to write! Thank you! It brings me back to when my dad was in icu. The staff there were sensitive, caring and professional throughout. I didnt know what the future held but I wrote a card for the staff, thanking them for the input so far. He died. But even in death the staff couldnt have been more helpful. They even switched off the sound of the machine before they switched off the machine so we werent haunted by the sound of the machine reminding us of his departure from this world. That was 9 yrs ago now and am still as thankful today. I think icu staff are amazing. I couldn’t do that job. A close friend is an icu nurse. I think she’s amazing too!

  172. Patrice Benard says

    Thank you. Having just had to act as health care proxie for my good friend, and having to watch the nurses struggle to let go, I know it’s not in your nature to give up the fight. The tears shed by her nurse that day were very real. But I thanked them for caring for the 2 months she was there. And I know they appreciated my daughter playing her fiddle at every visit, especially the last one. Your timely post has reminded me to stop by the ICU one last time to invite the nurses and staff to join us for her final celebration of life. Your pain is just as real as ours. God Bless you for supporting family and friends as we struggle with fading hope and to accept that there is time for every purpose under heaven.

    • brieann.rn@gmail.com says

      Thank you so much for commenting and sharing your personal story. It blesses me. I pray God cover you with His peace and comfort. Thank you again.

  173. Donna Leonard says

    I want tot hank you for the job you do each day, when my sister was sick and dying the staff couldnt have been bette, they tried to save her life but she was already brain dead and the decision had been made that if her heart stopped she would nto be revived again and i am thankful she was able to go with dignity and peace.

    MY mother went through a health crisis 13 months ago i signed the dnr because if she had a massive stroke or heart attack i did not want them restarting her i didnt want her to have broken ribs and such and i see how hard it was for the staff to have lost a patient thankfully my mom made it she lives with me but my choice is still to not keep her alive by any artificial means and if she goes i would like it to be with some one like you to care for her

    • brieann.rn@gmail.com says

      Thank you so much for the kind comment and for sharing your personal story. God bless you and your family. Thanks again.

  174. Diane says

    As an ex ITU nurse In the UK, I identify with everything you say. ITU nursing is the same the world over, thank you for your enlightening letter. I am even more impressed however that you have taken the time to read and reply to the very many comments posted on here.

    • brieann.rn@gmail.com says

      Thank you for commenting. It’s been interesting trying to keep up with all the comments, but I felt if someone took the time to read my post and respond then I could at least say thank you. So, thank you.

  175. Katie says

    I worked as an X-ray tech for 17 years & now teach. My husband is an RN in ICU. What you describe can not be taught. It is something that only medical professionals “get” from working in the medical field. As for the comments about communication with the families of ICU patients, most nurses (and other health professionals) do a great in this area; but another thing families don’t understand is PRIORITY of care. In x-ray there might be 20 more patients who need their exam to be completed so that their doctor can know how to continue treating their family, or there could be a code in the ER, and the list could go on and on. Thanks for your article. Very insightful for those who have only been on one side of healthcare.

    • brieann.rn@gmail.com says

      Thank you for commenting. You are so right. I simply try to put myself in another person’s shoes and think how I might respond. It helps me to relate to their feelings so I don’t get frustrated on just my side of things.

  176. Michael says

    This made my eyes water, just because the thought of the stress that all nurses go through is never recognized by the public. I had wonderful nurses for my dad when he lost his battle with cancer. Sometimes I wondered how they can be so strong around terminal patients. It takes a very special person to be a nurse. God bless you.

  177. Cari says

    My 20 year old daughter has cancer and spent two weeks in ICU. The nurses were awesome! They brought her gifts, they prayed with her, they came to visit her and I’m told of one of them that cried for her on the way home each time she took care of my daughter. They cared and that meant the world!

  178. dana says

    As a family member who has spent many days and nights in the ICU and Cardiac Care Unit over the past 20 years- this made me tear up. Maybe we have been lucky, or maybe it has been our own attitudes but we have never found our nurses to be abrupt, rude, or anything but the dedicated, caring people they are. You all are very much appreciated-you are the front lines in our wars against diseases and injuries. You put up with us, with patients who aren’t always kind, with doctors who are always rushing from one spot to the next- leaving it up to you to make things happen. You answer the calls at 4 in the morning when we can’t sleep because we are worried, you explain what the squiggly lines on the machines mean, you know where to find the best coffee within walking distance of the hospital and you still have time to give the patient a smile. Thank you ICU/PICU/CCU nurses everywhere!

  179. Betty says

    Thirty years ago, my 23 year old daughter, suffered a stroke, and was in a coma, in ICU for 5 weeks. I have the utmost respect for the team of nurses, that cared for her during that time, keeping her long hair in a neat pony tail, etc. and tending to her needs. She did recover, and lived on for 28 more years. We did express our appreciation for the nurses, with an occasional box of chocolates, to sweeten their long day…(they did 12 hr. shifts.)

  180. says

    I thank you for this. You know, I couldn’t read the entire thing because it made me choke up. I have had 3 too many major surgeries since 2011 and have come across my share of “less-than-kind” nurses. And, while the hopeful part of me WANTS to believe that this blog post is more than case as to why they treated me (THE PATIENT) that way….I’m leaning more towards the latter.

    But, I truly thank you for doing what you do. And doing it well. And, for the great nurses I DID have while at the hospitals…I thank you on BECAUSE of them.

  181. Douglas Smith says

    I spent about three weeks in an ICU in an induced coma, following heart valve replacement surgery including repair of an aneurism in the ascending aorta plus a staph infection in my heart. That was followed by about three more weeks in the general Ward followed by six weeks in a nursing home. The doctors for sure did their magic, but it was the nurses who saved my life! Thank you for all you do!

  182. Robin Guiab says

    I am a doctor for almost 30 yrs-I have always tried to put my patients first-I have cried and mourned each loss and celebrated the victories.Patients and their families are the truest example of the greatness of humanity and they make me humble each day.May the Lord continue to bless those that suffer and continue to bless me in the healing arts

  183. says

    I am an OB nurse. We are the same. We laugh and joke when things may not be all that funny for others. We have to, or we might slap someone…figuratively speaking. We always have to be on, support the not always happy mom, the demanding mother in law or sister or friend, be happy for the ones who thrive and grieve for the ones who are lost. This is nursing…for all of us. Slme good and some bad…msotly good for some, not so much for others. We choose our specialty according to our passion, and our preference. I like them to come in, deliver their newborn and move on. Others like the demands and thrill of urgency and emergency. It is nursing. We cope. We do our best. I hope they bless us all. I teach nursing, so I have another goal. To make people like you. Nurses who are able to laugh, cry and save a life. It’s a good thing.

  184. a daughter says

    thank you for this. my dad is heading into a serious surgery tomorrow, and will be in ICU for 3 days at least. i promise to be extra thankful to our nurses for everything you all do each day.

  185. Julie O says

    I wasn’t going to comment as so many people have expressed the same things as I wanted to say. But, when my father was in ICU 12 years ago there was a nurse that stood out above all the others. Don’t get me wrong…. every single one of them was amazing. She just rose above amazing to a status I cant describe. She took on doctors working on my father was telling them that was my daddy laying there and she would keep me out of the way but I was not leaving the room. You see, she knew I needed the reassurance of knowing what they were doing and why. She spent an by my side quietly explaining what was happening. Over the next three weeks she volunteered to be my dad’s nurse whenever she was on shift… she was his first ICU nurse…. knew he probably wasn’t going to survive his illness and wanted us to have some stability and familiarity over during one of the worst times in our lives. She was sassy, bit irreverent and a whole lot of compassion. My father did pass away…. But, twelve years later my family and I can still remember Our ICU angel’s name. We did send a letter of recognition for all the nurses to the hospital with a special mention for Vera.

    God bless all of you who fight for our family members as if they were your own.

  186. sandy eads says

    I had to have colon cancer surgery in 2002 at the age of 34. I was told not to get up even to use the bedside commode. I called for a nurse and the male nurse that came in told me to get up and do it myself. well my husband just happened to walk in as he said this and he was not happy. he told the nurse to leave my room and then he helped me get to the potty. he then told them not to let that nurse in my room again. all the other nurses were great and kept apologizing for what happened. now when im in the hospital for something I remember to thank my nurses for their help. I have been cancer free for 11 years. thank you for your wonderful letter and for being a great nurse.

  187. Paula says

    Your article brought back memories from my dad’s stay in ICU in 1997. He did not make it out and we “sang him to Heaven” with the song, “The Old Rugged Cross”. I know the nurses and doctors there did everything humanly possible and when that wasn’t enough and the Lord decided to take Dad, they held us up while we grieved. My week with him there remains one of the most difficult, yet one of the most blessed and I will never forget how loved we felt. Thank you for all you do.

  188. Anissa says

    Thank you for this beautiful letter, my family and I have all been in and out of hospitals for many years, and this was one this that would great my nerves. I know have a better under standing as to why you sing, laugh and joke. BUT remember we was patients are sick and if I ring for help please stop your joke or telling everyone what you you did on the week-end and please HELP. Thank you

  189. carolyn says

    My son was in the hospital for a while and the nurses became more important than some of the doctors. The nurses are the ones who sat with us who laughed and cried with us. I can not even pretend to know the stress of a nurse. from this mom to you thank you

  190. Misty says

    I just wanted to say that I am the equivalent of a CNA in the ICU as well as a health unit clerk and I have witnessed all of this first hand. I understand that I may not be a nurse but I help the patients just as much as the nurses do and sometimes I’m the one the family corners to talk to cause they have run out of hope and need someone to encourage them that whatever choice they are making for their loved one is the right choice. I have held hands with a wife crying over her husband cause she thinks he is passing and I have hugged husbands of completely unresponsive wives. After you hear their stories and see them day after day they feel like very close friends and you want nothing but the best for all of them. It is very trying but very rewarding when a patient comes back after leaving the hospital and thanking you even though during their stay they hit you! I love the ICU and I have actually started thinking of going back to school to become a nurse because of the fast pace, the wonderful patients, the families and the biggest reason is the care and compassion I can give the families and patients. This is so true about the ways to cope with our special ICU patients and families.

  191. LisaJ says

    I lost my mom in December – she spent almost 11 days in ICU. The nurse that we ended up loving, we started out hating. She was a straight shooter. We are straight shooters as well, but we didn’t want to hear her pragmatic comments. Turns out we needed them. We ended up teaching her about our family’s dynamics. Once she understood us, we worked together to make some better decisions – or help my dad make better decisions (since he was POA). We turned to her for advice. We thanked her for hanging in there with us. We learned later (about 15 minutes after she transferred our Mom from ICU to regular floor) that she cried with us when our mom passed away. Her name was Shelly, and I still dream of her.

  192. Karen Grant says

    I just finished reading this wonderful letter. Although I have been retired since 2002, my work memories are still very vivid. My journey as a nurse took me from CCU to nursery/NICU to ICU to a surgical unit to OBS-GYN and back to surgical. In all those places there were times we were silly to keep from crying….or just to relieve some tension so we could function effectively.

    When I was done reading “the letter” , I was reading through the comments and came across one that sounded like it was from your sister, Nancy…..I don’t know if she is a biological sister or not but it was the surname “Brouse” that caught my eye…..my paternal grandmother was a Brouse!! One more nudge from the universe that our world is really small!!!

      • Karen Grant says

        I read this:”Nancy Brouse says:

        January 14, 2014 at 6:24 pm

        Precious Sister,
        I don’t tell you often enough how very proud I am of you!!! God has so…….. put you where you are, and I know with all my heart that you have done amazing things- Keeping many of them alive. I Love You Kelly- God Bless You!!!
        Love Nancy Kay”
        In looking at it again now, I mistook her comment to be about you when in reality it looks like it refers to another poster -Kelly- who sent in a reply.

        • brieann.rn@gmail.com says

          That’s ok. I have a half sister I’ve never met and have no idea how to find her. So for a moment there I was wondering. Lol.

  193. Sarah says

    Thank you for writing this. My sister has been a RN for the last 10 years and I am in the health care field as well. Our father died 2 years ago from cancer and the hospital nurses (and the hospice nurse) are who helped get us through it all. We all, including my dad, enjoyed the jokes and random acts of the staff. We couldn’t be to serious, if we did then everyone would burst out in tears. Some of us appreciate it, even if we never show it. Keep doing exactly what you do!

  194. Leona says

    After a 27 year career a majority in trauma and emergency nursing your letter to family speak volumes. I treat every patient the way I would like myself or my family members to be treated…the hardest point in my career was working in the ER in the community I grew up in and working to save lives of my friends and their family….I grew up with these people. ..my colleagues soon learned which patients I was most concerned about…they were the ones I laughed with, joked with and teased…this was to ease my patient’s and their family’s anxiety “after all who would be laughing if I were truly dying.

    May God Bless you in your mission. ..nursing is not a job, it’s not a career or a guaranteed income…Nursing is a calling …Nursing is where the science of medicine meets the art of caring…never stop caring.

  195. Traumaqueen1124 says

    I have worked in a Trauma ICU for 15 years. I had a 19 year old who drove drunk into a tree. He had multiple injuries the worst being his brain. I fought for 2 days trying to save him. On the third night the battle was lost and he died. I held his mother for 20 minutes while she laid across his chest crying “Why?” Within the hour he was sent to the morgue, the room STAT cleaned and my next admit was on his way. A 24 year old GSW to the head…. and the battle begins again. I barely made it out to my car the next morning before I started crying. Am I looking for praise? Am I a martyr? No to both questions. How do I do it? Phil 4:13 “For I can do everything through Christ who gives me strength”. He gets the glory for all I do, He gets the glory for putting me in the positions I am in. Yes, we laugh and joke at times but that is how we survive because life does go on. We have a wall with pictures of the patients that have returned to our Unit to show us how they have recovered. We remember them also. I can not imagine doing anything else with my life.

    • brieann.rn@gmail.com says

      Love this comment. I pray that very verse every morning in the shower before going to work! God is able.

  196. Steve says

    My mom nearly died more than once in ICU. I have seen all of these things while trying to prepare for my mom’s death. I remember being a little appalled at the laughing and joking. I remember such quiet and compassionate sympathy from a particular nurse that it brought me to tears. I remember myself and my family promising each other to return to properly thank the nurses who saved my mother’s life after she pulled through. I also know we’ll be back there some day…Thanks for the insight, the little glimpse from your point of view. I can only imagine the strength it takes to do this day after day. A lot of people call you angels…

  197. says

    I have been dead in ICU too many times as a child and adult. You are the people that save lives you are the people that face adverse cuts for no reason you are the people that are the real last resort and see things that no others actually see including all armed forces you are the people that are forced to over work as no one else wants to work like that finally you are the ones the world relies on, no race no religion no very important people all treated the same way to save the life. Thank you for all people you all have saved to me more important than a country I support you and I will let you all cry on my shoulder any time day or night even in thought I will always support you all no matter where you are. Mr J Vince

  198. Sherry B says

    Thank You so much for this letter it is so accurate. I am an oncology nurse that deals with so much on end of life issues it would make your head spin. We also have med surg and tele pts but it’s the hospice pts that hurt the most. Once a Dr said you guys shouldn’t be laughing out here at the nurses station and I turned to him and said If we don’t laugh we would all be crying! We must carry on saving life’s ,hugging families , calming patients nerves, and dealing with at times difficult doctors or families. There is so much stress mentally and physically and emotionally most people don’t understand when we make jokes and are singing or laughing. This is our coping mechanism! To all health care professionals who laugh or sing at work…….I understand
    Sherry RN

  199. Courtney says

    This is such an incredible piece of writing. My fellow nurses and I (we work in a CTICU) have shared this with so many of our friends and family members and talked about it quite a lot. It puts into words so perfectly the things that sometimes we don’t even talk about with each other. Thank you, thank you, thank you for writing this!

  200. Meagan says

    I just graduated nursing school and will be starting my dream job in the ICU in February. Thank you for your post!

  201. says

    Having recently been a patient in an ICU I can only say thank you to all who choose this tremendously important and taxing profession. It is because of you that I can even respond to this post. Do what you have to do to survive yourself, you face this daily.

  202. Analee says

    My grandmother was a nurse who had moved to working for a podiatrist by the time I got old enough to realize why a nurse would do this sort of thing. I came to a similar conclusion, however, when I was 19 years old and my father was in the ICU after months of battling lung cancer.

    I’d see the nurses occasionally laughing in the hallway or hear them humming to themselves while they were checking on Dad, and while my little sister didn’t fully understand why, I got the impression that maybe if they didn’t, they wouldn’t be able to do their jobs. Most of the nurses who cared for Dad in the ICU the last few days of his life had known him personally for years as a patient and as the local Bookmobile driver for the county library, so I always thought that they were just as sad as we were to see him on his way out.

    I will forever appreciate the nurses who were there those last few days, who put up with my dad making somewhat dirty jokes and giving it back to him as well as they got it when he got snarky and slightly smartassed (pardon my language, but trust me, there is no better term to describe my late father’s sense of humor, which I inherited in spades), but also took care of him as best they could and were kind enough to show up to the wake as well to pay their respects directly to my mother and our family.

    You all do a job that I would never have the patience or courage to do. Thank you all.

  203. Valerie says

    Thank you for your post. My older sister is a nurse anesthetist and after reading this I am more able to understand her. You all have my utmost respect and gratitude.

  204. says

    We spent 159 days in hospital with my husband – the majority of it in ICU. I loved most of the nurses who worked with my husband, who hugged me when I was falling apart, who sat with me even though they were off shift and just showed up to pick something up from the hospital.

    There’s always a few who are just there to look good on a resume, who treated me like I was stupid or ignorant but for the most part, the nurses were amazing.

    http://widowspath.wordpress.com/2012/07/25/about-a-nurse/

    http://widowspath.wordpress.com/2013/01/18/a-nurse-called-amazing/

    http://widowspath.wordpress.com/2013/06/22/some-things-are-meant-to-be/

    And there’s always a few amazing ones :)

    Nurses are incredible – thank you for everything you do :)

    • brieann.rn@gmail.com says

      Thank you for commenting and for sharing your personal blog. May God bless you and cover you with His peace and comfort.

  205. Alberta says

    Very well said. I cried my way through this. I am not a nurse but have spent time in the NICU with my nephew and a friends child. The PICU with my own child and the ICU with my brother. I have seen the laughter, heard the joking and listened to the singing and humming of different nurses. It was times that those nurses jolly attitude kept me sane, kept me from crying yet again and kept me from pulling all my hair out in worry and hurt. THANK YOU for your tenderness. caring and yes your “antics” Thank You for the strong front because I have had to rely on your strength to keep my own. Thank you for your dedication and commitment in a position that so many of us could not handle. I could not! Thank You from the family and friend of the one you have worried, fret and cried over! THANK YOU NURSES!!!

  206. Jen Mathews says

    I am an RT and spend all my time at the hospital helping my fellow RN colleagues as well as doctors. I completely agree with what you have to say here. The way I handle stress is joking around.

    I have sat at a patients bedside before holding there hand as they transition to heaven because the family hadn’t gotten back to the hospital yet. I have prayed over a patient while giving respirations while CPR is being preformed.

    I have tossed shoes in the trash when I get to the parking garage because the patient was bleeding so bad but I wouldn’t leave there side because I told the family I would be there.

    I work with some of the most kind and caring RN’s, doctors, and Rt’s. We are a team together a family and we will treat your family as ours as well.

  207. Melissa says

    Thank you for writing this, I sobbed through every line. My dad has ALS, was intubated 3x over 3 weeks in the ICU and ultimately had to have a trach put in. Those 3 weeks were the worst weeks of my life, all while I was taking pre-reqs so I myself can be a nurse. There are no other nurses like you ICU nurses, and I know my family and I would not have been able to get through those long days and nights there without you amazing people. Thank you for caring so much about your patients and opening our eyes to the amazing work you nurses do!

    • brieann.rn@gmail.com says

      Thank you so much for the comment and sharing your personal story. You have no idea how much words of encouragement like yours lifts my spirits.

  208. Karin says

    I came across this letter on Facebook and it hit home for me. I recently decided at age 44 to go back to school and become a nurse. I kept thinking, “What if nursing isn’t right for me?”. You just answered my question. Thank you!

  209. Luz Correia says

    Thank You, I am a nurse in an ICU but i am also a family member of an ICU patient. I felt all this fellings inside myself…

  210. Kelly says

    Like many stated above this is a beautiful letter and think you hit the nail on the head. I’m a respiratory therapist and work in critical care units as well as getting called for codes etc. This letter brought me to tears, but in a good way as in emotional relief ( just finished 9 shifts in 10 days) Extremely well written and by your words I can only assume an amazing nurse as well. Thank you for representing healthcare in a positive light as many days at work we may not see it.

    • brieann.rn@gmail.com says

      Thank you so much Kelly. The experience of writing this letter and having so many people respond has really blessed me. Thanks for reading, understanding, and encouraging me.

  211. Sharon says

    We spent 101 days in 2 NICUs and 1 PICU with our 3rd child. We LOVED all of our nurses and doctors, but the moment that spoke strongest of how invested they were in our little girl was when one of our favourite nurses had a bad night with our girl, missed a problem with her IV which set her back a few steps. That nurse called in during day shift to check on our girl and to explain to us what happened. Mistakes happen, we understood and we trusted her no less. She was assigned to our isolation room again the next night but she was too upset to look after Kaity that night and asked to be moved. I wrote her a letter that night and told her that in the greater scheme of things the days that she turned on cartoons for our baby girl, and gave her little rattles to hold, and the hours we spent with her in that room laughing and letting our baby girl hear that wonderful sound instead of just beeping machines and crying were worth WAY more than that one night when a mistake was made. That nurse was.back in our room on her next shift. Our baby girl died a couple weeks later. 10 years later we are still in touch with that PICU nurse who now lives clear across the world. I have nothing but respect for everyone in the medical field. God bless you.

    • brieann.rn@gmail.com says

      Thank you so much for commenting and sharing your personal story. You sound like a wonderful woman that I would be blessed to know. I pray that God’s peace will always surround you. Thank you again.

  212. says

    All I can say is: I love you and all those like you who fight the Good Fight every day.
    I’ve had the unfortunate experience to have been in ICU twice in my life, both times as a much younger man. I remember every moment of both times, and I fully understand the amazing care my ICU Drs. and Nurses and everyone else gave me. I trusted them all with my life and they all came through for me
    God Bless You All.

  213. jaber harby says

    Thank you very much and every nurse in the world I am a nurse from Iraq, and I hope that everyone have
    such your feelings

  214. says

    What a great letter! I am not a nurse, but have worked in a pulmonary clinic for 15 years, and my mom was in ICU several times at this time last year before she went to hospice. I had the advantage of knowing the hospital rules and having a sister who is an RN and almost done with her Nurse Practioner training. Of course, she was the family spokesperson, but the nurses were still very accommodating when anyone was there. I applaud you for being an ICU nurse – I don’t know if I could ever do that. I also appreciate using humor to cope. My mom was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis in 1984 and was in a wheelchair for many years before she died. We went to a mall with her once and parked her wheelchair outside of a store because she wanted to wait outside for us while we shopped. My aunt joked, “Don’t run away!” and two women sitting near them got so mad they yelled at them for being rude. Personally, that is the way we coped with her illness. I called her “Flash” for a nickname and she frequently laughed so hard when we were trying to help her up after a fall that she couldn’t get up. I get it and I appreciate it. THANK YOU for doing such wonderful work!

    • brieann.rn@gmail.com says

      Thank you for commenting and sharing your personal story! It seems cliche, but it’s true laughter is the best medicine. Your family sounds awesome. Thanks again. God bless you.

  215. E says

    Beautifully written. Everyone should read this. Thank you for speaking for so many of us who could not put it in to words so eloquently.

  216. Karrie says

    This is written so well. I am a nursing student and have spent my fair share in the ICU for training and personal reasons. I know in my heart ICU is my calling. This should be hung in every ICU so maybe the families could get a better insight to what goes through a nurse’s mind. We do care, that is why we do what we do every single day.

    • brieann.rn@gmail.com says

      Thank you so much for commenting. I wish you great success in your chosen and challenging field. You will do just fine. Thanks again.

  217. MG says

    This is something that is wonderfully beautiful. I have read this before, but never exactly knew where it came from till now. I work in a Critical Care float dept, bouncing between ICU step-down, Med. ICU, and our Trauma center. The little jokes you play with coworkers, just to help you get by, especially on one of “Those” nights. I can think of only one major time though I’ve ever actually lost it. I felt guilty afterwards, who I am I to yell at someone Ill. There was an individual who I had her first inpatient stay where she was dx w/ pancreatic cancer, over the following six months she had to have multiple admits. On her final night, I had her and a substance abuser, I spent almost an hour with her trying to get her sat up, so together we could get her to the bathroom. The cancer had went metastatic to her T1-T5 vertebrae causing the slightest movement to be excessively painful. Among multiple other issues. She cried, and yelled for someone to take her out of the misery. I cried with her in that room, there was nothing else I could really do, and I wasn’t going to leave her alone in that state. All the while my substance abuser is calling for a sandwich, jello, milk, etc…I made sure he got what he needed but after the 25th call in an hour, I finally snapped. I stormed down to the room, and we had a very stern conversation, which looking back on I did not handle the best, I did not have enough emotional control there. My cancer patient began to actively die shortly after, her family lived two hours away. I sat in there and held her hand till the end. In short, the little things we do, the singing, the laughter, the pranks…It’s to help us focus, to maintain our neutrality, and so we are blubbering messes while at work.

  218. says

    Personally, I think you all suck and are highly overpaid. Kidding. Half my family are nurses, with an OB/GYN thrown in for good measure. It takes an incredible personality to make it work. I couldn’t do it. Besides being an emotional wreck from dealing with the patients and what their family, I’d probably be imprisoned for killing a doctor. Because I’ve heard from way too many folks how they sometimes talk to nurses and other personnel. Then again, they’re stressed, too. And usually, at least if they care, are perfectionists. The interactions of all the various personality traits in that setting are phenomenal. I wish I were a psychologist so I could conduct an in depth study of how you all pull it together without killing each other.

    Keep up the good work. You worked with a very dear friend, about a year ago. Unfortunately, she didn’t make it. But this was linked to her fb page by her sister, who bragged on what a great job y’all did, in spite of that fact. She was my buddy. She was as cool as any chick I’ve ever known. She was more comfortable hanging with guys because she hated drama as much as we do. But, at the same time, I could talk to her about deep feelings and things guys just don’t talk to each other about. She was just phenomenal. And I wanted to let you know how much I appreciate you doing what was apparently an outside job. Sometimes, God just says, “Come on home,” and you wouldn’t really want to stop that if you could.

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