You see a lot of heartbreaking shit if you’re an ER nurse; most of it you learn how to compartmentalize in a way that lets you power through and get on with your job. I always try to remember my function is to help people in need – they are depending on my professional skill set and knowledge base. They need me to be calm, capable, and clear headed – not emotional. And I am ruthlessly efficient and focused in carrying out my job. But there some situations that are just too painful to allow yourself to make a personal connection.
One of them is the suicide note.
It usually happens like this. Someone tries to commit suicide, but doesn’t quite finish the job. EMS gets called and brings the patient and all pertinent evidence to the ER. The triage nurse would be the first person to receive this stuff. It all has to be logged and inspected in order to get a clear picture of what happened – we can’t treat the afflicted without understanding what we are dealing with.
Today I had one of them. Made a copy for the chart, and made sure the wife got the original.
Couldn’t look at it. There’s a limit to the sadness you allow in.