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ADVANCE Perspective: Nurses

Nurse Jackie: Understanding All Patients

Published May 12, 2010 4:34 PM by Gail Guterl

I just finished reading Finding Frances, a book by Janice M. Van Dyck. Frances is Frances Baldwin, a lifetime heavy smoker who is dying of COPD. After suffering with the condition for some time, she learns there are treatment options for her; she can have several surgeries that will prolong her life, but quality of life will not be optimal. Against the wishes of her children and especially her husband, Frances decides to refuse all treatment and go into hospice.

 

I thought of this book as I watched Monday night’s offering of the Showtime series, Nurse Jackie. In this episode John Poole, played by Harvey Fierstein, cannot come to terms with the fact his partner his dying. Unlike Frances, his partner is not conscious and does not have the option of making any decision about how he will die. But Poole is not willing to let him go, at least not without a last goodbye. In the final scene, we see Poole solidly planted outside the emergency department room where his partner is dying waiting for that final breath and already grieving. To me this scene was unforgettable and poignant.

 

Do we ever understand fully what family or friends of dying patients go through? Did you ever have a patient whose dying was something you never forgot?

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