Today, I got a hospice referral for a patient that I have been taking care of that has cancer. When I admitted her a month ago, she was recovering from a surgery, planning on chemo and radiation and wanted more time with her husband. She knew that she had a cancer that wasn't curable but she wanted to fight. And yes, she is pretty young to die.
After week one, we spent alot of time talking about the future, about what needs to happen to heal and how she was in for a hell of a fight...but it could be done. I told her that I could help her no matter what but for now, we were a team fighting this cancer and hoping for more good time.
It's not going that way and hasn't for the last few weeks. I would make a visit, talk about how she was weak and tired, but she wanted to stay the course to improve. Every visit, we made a game plan and went from there.
After each visit, as I was leaving, I would hug and kiss her and she would hug and kiss me. We were becoming friends along with me being her nurse. I know that isn't "professional" and I am supposed to keep a healthy distance. Well, I haven't known "professional" my whole nursing career and you cannot stop a heart from falling in love and caring for those you love in a certain way. So I don't become someone I'm not...I fall and become attached. Just as I would hope my nurse will be when I am dying...someone who really cares.
So, now, back to the referral...She has been in the hospital and she got the news...there is nothing left to do. Chemo isn't going to help and as a matter of fact, it will make you sicker. Oh and radiation, it's not doing a thing so why bother...
She and her husband have decided that she will go home. She will be in her beautiful home, her husband caring for her, her animals climbing all over her for lovins' and her family free to visit when she wants them to. She will be in the livingroom, in a bed, where she will "hold court." It will be the best of a terribly sad time.
I am sure she will ask me what it will be like to die..."will I be in pain or will I suffer?" I can honestly say that she will not. She will not be in pain and she will not suffer...she will know when it's coming, her family will be able to tell her everything they need to and she will tell them everything she needs to as well. Her husband will be close and because she picked an awesome man, he will care for her and love her until the very minute she takes her last breath. I have seen that before and it is beyond humbling.
I am sure this is what I am supposed to do...love that family and care for my sweet patient until she isn't with us anymore, but it is gonna be a tough one. She is young, close to my age and should be here for quite a while longer. For that I have no answers and while I don't get the "God's grand plan" even though I do believe in God, I know that I am here at this part of her life...and death to be a loving presence and a help in time of trouble. I believe that is one of the gifts I have been given and I am to use these gifts when I can. This is going to be an instance that I can.
So that's the report from here...nursing the living and dying, feeding the band and trying not to gain a bunch of weight in the process. I am pretty lucky to be here, huh?
We'll tawk tomorrow,
I love you all,