Nurse thoughts by Jacqueline Bliven

Something they didn't teach us in nursing school is that we would suffer some form of post-traumatic stress. Everyone tells you its emotional and stressful but no one can really prepare you for that. For me, it's not when I have a "circling the drain" patient. I have a sense going in that this patient may or may not survive, so I'm always prepared for it. You titrate the drip, you analyze blood gases, you add new pressors...It's what you expect for that day after receiving report. What you don't expect is when you have a "walkie-talkie" who just dies. 
No one tells you that for days and weeks after, you will analyze every single thing you did for that patient that day. Did I miss something critical on his labs? Should I have pushed the doc harder to intubate? If we had brought him into the ICU sooner, would it have helped? Even though we didn't know this person until that moment, no one tell us that we will grieve for them as well. 
The fact of the matter is, people die. Every day. We can only do so much. We can intubate, push for that central line, give the potassium, hang the levophed and the neo and then the vasopressin. But it won't change the fact that it has limits. Just like we as caregivers, have limits. So it's important for us to take the time to take care of ourselves. Take the mental health day if needed. Have the drink after work with your co-workers. They are the ones who totally understand what you are going thru and who ran to your room with the crash cart and started bagging while you were giving CPR. Nurses are vital to our society so we need to be our best to keep going with what the unit throws at us that day.