"Just like that, the assistance to help someone live is taken away..."
Take away the cotton wool padding; take off the rose-tinted glasses and, in the cold, harsh light of day -
This is the Liverpool Care Pathway -
I went to placement as usual, and came across a patient in a side room with an auxiliary who required my help. The patient in question was on a commode and couldn't breathe well at all. I was very worried for her and insisted we get her on the bed immediately. We did so, and I went to find a sliding sheet to get her up the bed more and sit her up to assist her breathing. There wasn't one to be found on the ward anywhere (disgusting), and no-one was particularly interested. In the end I was rather stern with a couple of the nurses and insisted they come and help as this poor lady was suffering. They reluctantly came and helped me. After sorting her out on the bed and making her comfortable, the nurse I was with took her observations which were absolutely terrible. The poor love was struggling to breathe. She couldn't have been more than 60, which after you've worked in a health care environment, is actually a very young age.
In the treatment room shortly after, the nurse I had just been with came and informed me that the lady would be placed on the Liverpool Care Pathway. I asked what this was, but deep down I already knew. She said it was basically a pathway that made death as comfortable as possible. I asked to be excused, and she squeezed my arm when she saw the tears in my eyes.
I couldn't believe it. I was in shock - the woman's family weren't even there and a decision had been made to just let her die?? Of course they would be informed (I hoped) but how can the decision just be altered in the blink of an eye? Just like that, the assistance to help someone live is taken away. I don't even know who made the decision.
I went to the staff room and cried, and didn't stop. I couldn't breathe. It was simply all too much. What was the patient thinking? What would her family think? Does the patient even know? How can I nurse someone who is dying? What do you do or say?
I knew my role was to offer the woman comfort, and help with her pain, and make sure all her needs were met, and comfort her family. But I simply couldn't. Up until this moment I had fought my anxieties, worries and fears. I familiarised myself with so much and I was doing so well, everyone said so, my mentor included.
I had my panic attack and left. The following week my mentor failed me for my entire placement. I was sad and upset that my patient was dying - so I was failed. The injustice of it all is being taken to a panel. The decision to fail me was made without my knowledge, and my university is appealing it. I had to scrape back a mere 10% of my flight costs back and quickly find somewhere else to live. I was jobless, without a university course, and homeless. It was a true slap in the face from the people who were supposed to lead, teach, encourage and support me.
(Sunday, 21 October 2012I trained to be a nurse once....part II)