Tuesday, June 29, 2010


I had my first day of clinicals on Saturday. I was really scared, because... well, it was my first time. I wasn't sure what to expect.

As it turned out, it wasn't so bad after all. I worked a 12 hour shift, which was daunting, but it went by really quickly. I started to drag around 1400 (haha) but that happens to me normally anyway. I got my second wind later and went home, ate dinner, played with E... the point being, I didn't just go home and pass out, which I fully expected.

The aide we were shadowing had 8 patients to take care of. Two of those patients were on hospice, comfort care only. I don't want to say too much for fear of violating HIPAA, but they really made an impact on me.

There was one male and one female, both elderly (although the woman seemed much older than the man... I didn't see their charts, though, so I don't know their actual ages.) I was told that both were suffering from late stage cancer.

The man was basically unresponsive. We (myself and the other student I was with) were instructed to obtain a blood pressure for him, and we were unable to do it. I was seriously about to go home at that point, because I was convinced I was totally incompetent. Neither of us could hear a thing. We ashamedly told the aide we were shadowing that we hadn't succeeded, and she kind of rolled her eyes and came in to do it herself.

Turns out, she couldn't get one, either.

She brought in someone else. He couldn't get a pressure. He was still breathing, and had good heart tones, so he wasn't dead. Yet.

They brought in an electric thing and that was able to get something, although I wasn't told what the reading ended up being. His skin was cool and clammy, and his breathing was erratic. He was expected to slip away at any moment.

No one was there with him. I know he had friends, or family, because there were lots of treats that people had brought in for him. I guess he had just been up and walking (not well, but still) the day before. And now, he was dying.

Everyone expected him to pass before my shift ended, and I volunteered to assist with postmortem care when the time came.

Except, he didn't. He was still breathing when I left for the day.

I'm not sure what happened to him. He has probably already passed, but I hope he was hanging on until his friends and family could get there. I hope that they made it in time.


  1. My first clinical site will be in Acute Rehab at a hospital. I keep wondering what I'll see there. I don't get grossed out easily or too scared to act, but I seriously worry about my habit of sympathizing too much. I worry that I'll focus too much on sadness and be distracted by that.

    Sounds like a big day you had!

  2. Wow, congrats on making it through your first day. The weird thing about that, is that sometimes the dying hold on...they hold on just long enough for their first granschild to be born, or for relatives to show up. I have a feeling that he waited until they were there and then when they told him it was okay to let go. He did.

  3. I'm glad you made it through the day! I'm going back to school hopefully in the fall and I REALLY hope I can be as strong as you, being away from my babies for that long! You're an inspiration to me!! :)

    & I hope that man's family got to say goodbye!

  4. Good luck! Found you blog through Cora story! Hope you do well on all your test!