MAGNET MONDAY: “Sharing the journey to end of life,” by Elise Morris, RN
This beautiful story not only exemplifies nursing as a profession, it illustrates the way AAMC nurses are empowered to respond to our patients’ needs. The care this patient and her family received from Elise Morris, RN, and the rest of our team was life-changing. That’s Magnet. That’s what we do.
Recently, I had the pleasure of caring for Mrs. L, an elderly woman admitted for recurrent respiratory issues. She was alert, oriented, stable, and tired of being sick.
Mrs. L called her children and asked them to come to the hospital. She told them she was going to die soon and she knew it. They spent some time together and then the whole family participated in the afternoon hospice consult.
Afterwards, Mrs. L.’s children told me that she wanted inpatient hospice care. I had not yet heard that from Mrs. L, so when we were alone, I asked her how she was feeling and if she would share her health care goals with me — I needed to make sure that we were doing the right thing for this alert and oriented patient who was capable of making her own decisions.
Mrs. L told me that she was so loved and that she had a beautiful life and a beautiful family. She shared that she had known such love and support from her husband, whom she had lost several years before. She missed him tremendously.
She had children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren whom she loved deeply, but it was time for her to go be with her husband. She was tired of being in the hospital, exhausted from the respiratory distress, and wanted peace.
She also wanted a regular cup of coffee, some uninterrupted sleep, and that “annoying elevator music channel turned off.”
She told me stories about each one of her family members, including one grandson who is a baseball coach.
Then, Mrs. L had her coffee, watched some baseball on TV with her family, and took a nap holding her daughter’s hand.
When I left for the night, I asked Mrs. L what I could do for her. She asked me to pray with her. She said the Lord’s Prayer as tears rolled down my face. She asked me to kiss her goodbye. She asked me to pray that night that she would pass quickly.
I thanked her for allowing me to care for her and her family that day.
The next morning, I was not in patient care, but checked on her and her children frequently. Mrs. L was resting peacefully, but her children were struggling with her imminent passing.
I went in to say goodbye as I was heading home. I sat alone with Mrs. L for a short time and told her how blessed I was to meet her and share this experience with her.
That evening, my husband received a phone call from a friend I do not know well. His friend, who is a baseball coach, had lost his grandmother that evening. He called to ask my husband if I was that “Elise” who had been so nice to his grandmother and his parents. He was calling to say thank you.
What he didn’t know is that I was the one who was blessed to spend those precious last hours with Mrs. L. In those moments, I was reminded of why I became a nurse. -Elise Morris, RN