From the first time you hear that last breath expelled from a long time dead corpse (or the first time your departed patient PU’s on you, (how many shrouds can one dead person soil)), you realise that dealing with the dead is going to involve a coping strategy. With spirits/stiff drinks (puns intended) banned from work, you realise that your cool blue patient probably had a sense of humour, and in sharing this you find a good strategy.
As a newly qualified staff nurse in the Emergency department I was eager to please and did what the sister told me. At the start of the early shift we were keen to move the department patients to the ward. The hospital I was in had some “care of the elderly” wards outside the main building, and a team of porters in a battered old ambulance would collect and transfer them. The porters arrived to collect one gentleman. I introduced myself to the family, and dropped the back support down gentle so the stretcher poles could go under. Alas the patient stayed sitting exactly where he was, cold, blue and very much deceased. (Oooops)
The family (whom had been sitting at his bedside for several hours) turned and asked if this was normal. I requested that they stepped out while I got someone to check the old fellow over, (I may have been newly qualified but not throughly stoopid). I informed the night staff (then leaving) who had been ?caring for him, then popped an 02 mask on the patient and wheeled him round to the quiet room.
It appears that in life there is only so much small talk an elderly gentlemen can take.
A tale from my wife…
A few years ago my wife returned from a night shift in a satelite community hospital. As there was no emergency department in the hospital, the doors were locked at night therefore stopping strangers from roaming in.
One of the other wards rang through to advice that tragically they had a patient die and to advise that the family were on the way, so to let them in when they rang the bell.
Sure enough, after some time had past the bell rang and my wifes colleague showed the family in to the relatives room, offered to make them a cup of tea and stated that someone would be with them shortly.
My wife informed the other ward that the family had arrived, and while preparing the body, the family enjoyed a cuppa. Eventually the ward staff went to retrieve the family, and stated that they could come through and see their father now. The family were somewhat confused by this. They had merely presented at the hospital wanting someone to treat a sprained ankle not realising that they were in fact in the wrong town, let alone the wrong hospital. Thankfully they found the whole thing quite amusing and got a free cuppa out of it. The real family turned up shortly afterwards luckily unaware of their new extended family – although had they turned up sooner it would make a more amusing tale!!!