“Get out!” He yelled at her as he stormed into the hospital room’s bathroom. He was on our critical care unit due to a traumatic brain injury, and she was his wife.
She burst into tears as I walked into the room.
“I can’t do this anymore,” she said, her voice cracking as she started to gather up her purse and coat.
I strode over to her quickly, setting my equipment down as I passed the bed. I put my arms around her while she shook with almost silent tears.
“I’ve got to leave,” she said. “I can’t stay here with him anymore.”
“Mary*, take some deep breaths,” I said as I reached for a tissue. “It’s Okay to need a break. Go for a walk, clear your head – but please don’t do anything you’ll regret.”
I didn’t want her leaving her husband – not only because it was easier to care for high needs patients when their families are around – but because a rash decision made in a high emotional state could be damaging to the both of them in the long run.
She gulped some air, but fresh tears started again. I indicated that she should sit down.
“He’s changed,” she said as she lowered into the chair. “He said he wants to divorce me! He’s been saying horrible things to me! What did I do wrong? Why doesn’t he love me anymore? What am I putting myself through this for?!”
“You have done nothing wrong… and I know how you feel,” I stated. “My husband had an issue with his brain a few years ago that required surgery. Issues with brains can cause personality changes – my husband became downright mean… but after it was all said and done… after he recovered … it all got so much better again.”
She was wiping her eyes when she looked up at me and asked “Really?”
“Really,” I assured her. “I’m certain he doesn’t really mean what he says… he probably thinks he does right now, but when he’s better he will regret it – or likely won’t even remember he spoke to you that way.”
I don’t recall then if I stepped out into the hall to let the RN know what was going on, or if she had come in on her own – but I gave her a quick briefing of what was occurring.
The RN knelt down in front of the still seated Mary and grasped her hands. She assured her that what she was going through and feeling was normal. His behavior was also a normal side effect some people get in such situations. She reiterated that it was normal and healthy to take a break for herself – she need not shut herself up in his room for weeks without a break just because she is his wife.
“Take a break, Mary, but please come back. It may not seem like it… But he needs you.”
She took a deep breath as she nodded, gathered up her things, and walked out of the room.
*Name was changed
I’ve been thinking about whether or not to go back to nursing school (or do something else, like continue my science degree to a Microbiology degree or do Health Business like my old Exec of Nursing suggested I do). I had started with Nursing School but couldn’t finish due to the move to Australia. I started thinking about certain flashes of memory to do with my medical experiences and thought maybe I’d document a few more here over the next few days… hope you all enjoy 🙂