My most memorable pt is one who I lost. We had an 8 year old child, here for repair of double outlet R ventricle, from Nicaragua. Her mother was not allowed to come with her becuase she worked for the gov't, so her grandmother was sent instead.
This child was to put it simply, absolutely beautiful, and everyone fell in love with her on sight, her sweet nature was just a bonus. She went for surgery, and came out on a ton of drips, vented, very sick. I will never forget, giving report to a much more experienced peds nurse that morning and telling her they found 4+ regurg of the mitral valve on the post-op echo. She looked at me and quite coldly said, "Well, then she's dead. There's nothing we can do unless they take her back to the OR and fix it."
Why they never did, I can only assume. At first they said she was too unstable, I could buy that, but later, some even suggested that it was so that if she lived beyond 30 days, it would appear as a successful db outlet RV surgery repair for the doc, then if she went back, she would die from an unsuccessful MVR, which I guess isn't as prestigious. This was at a time when those kinds of statistics were being used against surgeons. THat was the time I learned to hate that particular surgeon, I hated every cell in his body!!
WE watched her suffer for 6 weeks, never able to get her weaned. We bought her dollhouses, books, dolls, crayons, PJ's, anything to try to cheer her up. She became severely depressed. Of course she only spkoe spanish, so you can imagine trying to lip read spanish, fortunately, our unit secretary did, so she was hooked as well.
ONe night, she was extremely depressed. I had been working all kinds of OT with the condition that if I came in, I had her as my assignment. Anyway, I just knew she needed to be comforted, but the doc said she must remain on bedrest. I got the RT, and another nurse, and the 3 of us, moved her, the vent and all her drips, so that I could hold her in the rocking chair. Once the ordeal was over, and we were seated. She looked up at me, and lifted her emaciated arms to put them around my neck, and for a moment, I knew our souls had touched. About 15 minutes later grandmom came in, and was shocked to find her in the chair with me, happily shocked. WE then switched so grandma could hold her, it was beautiful to see them like that.
About 3 days later, they announced they were taking her back for repair. I knew she wouldn't make it. I went to church and talked/sobbed to my Pastor, and we prayed together for her.
She did die the following day, reports kept coming from the OR that she was doing well, but 20 minutes into the SICU, she crashed and that was it. They even tried to put her on bypass. Many nurses, most not peds nurses watched in horror, condemning the extraordinary efforts to save her. I personally would have taken her back under any circumstances, and I had my first insight into how the parents must feel in these situations.
Prior to this, I did not allow myself to become attached to pt's since I feared the pain of losing them. This angel taught me that it is worth it. I have never regretted it. When she died, I felt like I had lost my own child. Our anesthesiologist bought her the most beautiful gown to be buried in, he sent it home with her body.
One book I would recommend for any peds nurse is A Window to Heaven, forget the author, and I have long since passed on my copy. An excellent spiritual book about children's pre death visions.