It's not suprising to me how little death effects me. I can thankfully say that I haven't been around death as often and as brutally as those say in Darfur or Haiti, but I've had more than my fair share of experiences with death already in my lifetime. Growing up it seemed as though I was at a funeral at least once a year, if not more, and began to think that this was the norm. Didn't everyone lose 3/4th of their grandparents, a great-grandma, a teacher, a classmate, and two great aunts, before they were 18? I did. It affected me quite differently back then of course.
I'm definitely a believer that there is reason in everything, and I suppose those years prepared me for what I'd have to deal with as a nurse. I remember the first time I saw somebody die. I was in my fourth semester of nursing school. I was doing my ICU rotation and got to actually perform some procedures on a patient who was coding. He was dying, and ....I was excited! Not excited, of course, at the fact that he was dying, but for a student getting to insert tubes and needles, it was an adrenaline rush! He died and I can't really remember it phasing me at all. Maybe it was because of all the death I'd known or maybe because it was in a completely different world, but it seemed to affect my family as I was telling them about it that night more then it effected me.
I probably sound like the most cold hearted person in the world, but let me explain while I'm sitting here at work. Fast forward two years from the first time I saw a patient die. I can't possibly begin to count how many patients I've had that have died in this place I am right now. I've seen patients be intubated, chests compressed, meds pushed, rhythms analyzed, families cry and beg for their family member to "please breathe" but no breath would come. I've helped clean and put a man into a body bag. He was 80 and it was his time, but it still is a surreal thing. To see somebody's very last moments. But again, none of these things ever made me feel sad. I think the reason is that, for 95% of these patients, death isn't the worst thing in the world.
Eight hours ago, a patient I had for two nights died. She was sick. Probably the sickest you could actually be without being in intensive care. She needed a liver transplant and I just can't stress enough how much I'd rather die of anything else than liver failure. But regardless, her death wasn't expected. Everytime I hear of a patient that I've known has died, instead of making me sad, it makes me think about life and how you seriously have to live it to the fullest while you can. You NEVER know. My patient, although very sick, was put on the transplant list four hours prior and had been talking to her daughter on her little red cell phone. Now, she is gone.
So, I guess the point I'm trying to make is, ...go out and live. Spend the money you work really hard for because, it's just money. Buy something you want, take that amazing trip you don't think you can afford. Do it. Stop and smell the roses. Sing really loud. Smile often. Live.
(I'm reminding myself as well.)