Being a Pediatric ICU Nurse..on the bad nights

3 Nov

This post isn’t the normal funny-ish one. I wrote it a long time ago and read it to remind myself why I do what I do. I’ve wanted to share it, and after losing another little angel last night…I thought it was appropriate to share it today. This patient’s name was changed in this post with his mama’s permission. “Malachi” means my angel. She chose his alias perfectly. There will be more funny in the future…promise!

“How do you do it? I could never do what you do!” That statement sets the tone for my life as a Pediatric ICU nurse. I hear it from friends, family, strangers and even coworkers riding the elevator at the beginning of shift curious as to what adventures are expected on the 7th floor.

I usually have the same thing to say, not thinking much about it. “Of course you could do it.” Or “It’s not always sad.” These last two shifts made me ponder the same statements that I have heard a million times in my PICU career. This time it was my friends’ son in the bed. How do you help your friends and your coworkers who love him so much say goodbye? How do you not fall into a heaping mess on the floor thinking about that beautiful boy laying in the bed? How do you not want to run home screaming to your family?

The answer on this day is that I just don’t know. I’m not sure how we do it. All that I know is that I’m sad. I’m sad that parents left the PICU without their son. I’m sad that my friends and coworkers don’t get to love up on that special boy again. I’m sad that I’m the nurse that made him mad and told him he had to keep his Bipap mask on all night. And I’m worried that my friends, my coworkers, those amazing people who have fought the good fight will always see me as the nurse who took him away from them. It’s my own insecurity and it’s not about me today. Today it’s about him; it’s about them. Cancer took him from them. I prayed him up to Heaven for an 18 hour shift. I watched them love him, suffer to find the right answer. I watched friends and coworkers filter in and out, devastated and not knowing what to do to make it better. (After all, we are healthcare workers, that is what we do.) I heard his aunt tell him the most amazing things, things that will help him let go. I watched mom and dad memorize his face and the way it feels to hold him close. I watched his sick grandmother, fresh from her chemo treatment close her eyes over his body in prayer. In the quiet moments when everyone took a little break I told him how beautiful Heaven is. That there are parties with cake, M&M’s and Pizza and that God let you sit on his lap. I told him he could ask Him all the questions he ever needed the answers to. That his brothers will grow up knowing the strongest, bravest brother ever, there will never be a story about Malachi without the words “brave prince” in it.
And just like that, the brave prince was welcomed into Heaven…and I left work exhausted and questioning every single thing I ever believed in. I cried the whole way home. I cried myself to sleep. But it wasn’t about me… I couldn’t fix a kid…and send him home with his loving family. But he did go home today. He went home to be an angel and for reasons that are none of our business, that’s what he is. Malachi  lives through every person he touched, every song he sang, every joke he made. He lives in the breeze and every rainbow they will see, and every drop of rain will let them know he misses them. But he will live on in every heart…every life, because to know him was to love him. You only had to meet him once to know that he was a hero…a brave prince who now is an angel sitting on God’s lap.


2 Responses to “Being a Pediatric ICU Nurse..on the bad nights”

  1. Kelli November 3, 2015 at 7:59 pm #

    I still don’t know how you do it. But I’m glad this family and many others have such a compassionate, loving, silly and remarkable nurse to help them through such a devastating experience. Love you DP 😘


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