A Death In The Work Family


 
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By Debbie Moore-Black, RN 

At an early age, Tasha remembered looking up to her mama dressed in a crisp white uniform and a nursing cap placed perfectly upon her head — one bobby pin at a time. Tasha learned what sacrifice, responsibility, and dedication were all about.

She also knew her mama’s love for the nursing profession.

When Tasha was four years old, she used to say: “One day, I will be a nurse just like you, mama!”

Tasha excelled in academics. She loved chemistry, biology, microbiology, anatomy, physiology and psychology. By the time Tasha finished all of her academic requirements in college, she proudly held up the letter that came in the mail. The letter of acceptance into nursing school.

Her dream came true.

Tasha proudly displayed her BSN diploma. Her true love was behavioral health. She wanted to help people in a time of distress and dysfunction — a time when patients felt their life and desire to live started to unravel.

Tasha knew how to deescalate the one in a rage. She knew how to calm the sobbing tears of a lost soul. She could comfort and listen with a calming spirit. If she wasn’t holding their hand, her eyes told them that she cared. And sometimes, that’s all these patients needed — someone to listen, someone to care.

Tasha and her mama were a team. Joined at the hip, and as Tasha’s mom grew older, Tasha was there to take care of her.

Tasha also took care of her behavioral health unit. She considered the staff her “other” family … her second family. The staff grew to love her. Her endless generosity often meant providing the entire staff with a full course meal. Sometimes it was on a random day, sometimes an Easter dinner, Christmas or New Years’ Day. Tasha was full of love. And her staff loved her dearly.

Tasha put her scrubs on. Day three of 12-hour shifts.

She felt a little “off” on this day. Lots of “indigestion.” She felt weak with some shortness of breath. But she knew her ongoing indigestion well. Her weakness and shortness of breath had to be attributed to her third day at work.

Tasha clocked in. Ready to go, looking forward to a nice long weekend off.

She told a fellow RN, though, that she wasn’t quite up to par on this day. But she knew she could make it through these next 12 hours.

At 17:30 (5:30 p.m.) Tasha was outside of the behavioral health unit talking to a patient’s family member and giving them an update. As Tasha was talking, she stopped, slumped over and fell to the floor.

The family member frantically screamed for help. The staff arrived, a code blue was called, and CPR was initiated immediately.

The code blue team hooked her up to the EKG monitor. Ventricular fibrillation.

A nurse yelled out: “Shocking … all clear … shocking again!”

And after almost two hours of coding Tasha, they couldn’t bring her back.

The physician on the code team pronounced her death.

Our Tasha: Our vibrant, spectacular Tasha was not coming back.

The staff felt lost and broken.

EAP and chaplains set up counseling sessions by Zoom. A poster was placed in the unit by a fellow nurse with pictures of Tasha at restaurants with her staff “family.” Pictures of Tasha at the full-course meals she’d bring into work and of her laughing till her belly hurt. Of Tasha and her mama.

But our behavioral health unit felt as if Tasha’s death had sucked all of the energy out of everyone.

Many people attended her funeral. Nurses, psychiatrists, technicians — her second family. Sullen. Sad. Lost. Broken.

And on this crisp, clear blue sky day, tears flowed from all.

The mahogany casket stood still, shining in the sun with brilliant purple flowers on top. Her favorite color.

And her mama in her wheelchair watched as they lowered her only child, her only daughter, into the ground.

One friend strummed slowly on his guitar.

“How great thou art…”

42 years old.

It won’t happen to me.

It’s just indigestion.

Denial.

Cardiac arrest. 100 percent LAD.

We bowed our heads as the preacher stretched his arms out, looking up to the heavens:

“Thy Kingdom come.

Thy Will be done.”


 
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Articles in this issue:

Masthead

  • Masthead

    Editor-in Chief:
    Kirsten Nicole

    Editorial Staff:
    Kirsten Nicole
    Stan Kenyon
    Robyn Bowman
    Kimberly McNabb
    Lisa Gordon
    Stephanie Robinson
     

    Contributors:
    Kirsten Nicole
    Stan Kenyon
    Liz Di Bernardo
    Cris Lobato
    Elisa Howard
    Susan Cramer

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