It's been an unsettled few days here. I've lost track of the order of days. I think that it was Tuesday....
I found out that a lovely lady that I know had a massive heart attack at her home and died. I met E a few years ago when she was working at a local supermarket. She was one of those friendly people who always had a smile & kind word to say. She had changed jobs a few times, but her approach never changed. I used to see her out with her family, usually her mother, daughter & granddaughter. it's not often that you see 4 generations all together. And there was no mistaking that these girls were related. She may have been in her 50's: I'm not sure.
Then last night, I received a phone call from my NUM at the hospital in Muswellbrook to tell me that one of my workmates, C, had been brought into the hospital by ambulance, & had died.
C was 41years young.
I wasn't working at the hospital today, but C was one of those nurses that everyone knew. She was a people person, and very good at her job. She had re-trained a few years ago, so was familiar to a lot of departments from her clinical placements. On a personal level, C had had a bit of a hard time, marrying young and having 2 boys before the breakdown of her marriage. She then found happiness with a new man, G, and together they had a little girl, who is now 4. Her elder boys are about 17 and 22. The 22 year old is about to become a father for the 1st time, and C was very excited and very involved the arrival of her 1st grandchild, who is due to arrive at any time. It will be an incredibly bittersweet time when the baby arrives. C, who works as a nurse in maternity as well as the general wards, was going to be on hand at the birth. My guess is she still will be.
C had finished work yesterday afternoon and had taken her little girl to ballet lessons. She was chatting with the other mums, when she suddenly collapsed. A dr and a nurse who both knew C well attended her as they were also there at ballet lessons, but C wasn't coming back. The ambulance paramedics tried their hardest, and the nurses and drs at the hospital just kept on trying & trying, but to no avail. C was still in her uniform. She was one of ours.
Everybody was on autopilot at work today. Numb is a good word to describe feelings and actions. There was a debrief/get together at one of the local hotels this afternoon. Hospital staff, Drs, even the ambos came along. The sense of loss, shock and disbelief was profound. It wasn't easy to go, but necessary for those who were directly involved in particular, to help them verbalise and validate that they had done everything right. There was simply nothing that could have been done to bring C back. The cause of her death: a fatal aneurysm. There were no warning signs. Nothing could have saved her. It was just her time.
Other hospitals in the area are offerring staff to cover for C's funeral on Monday. That's what it's like in rural areas: we look after each other. Staff are already organising food for the "after the funeral gathering". In a couple of weeks, a bit of a roster will be put together to ensure that there is food in the freezer for C's family. There has been a huge push by top-level management to promote team work and the values of our health service. Well, we have news for them: if you want to see people that care, respect, support and love each other, just look at us.
But the grief here is palpable. And it will continue for the next few weeks at least.
It's so, so sad.