I am sure with the title and all that is going on in our city, you thought that this blog would be about free speech and censorship and protecting our rights. I guess, in a way, it is...
This has been a banner week for admissions to hospice care. One on Monday, one on Tuesday and one on Wednesday...and another possible tomorrow. When I admit a person to hospice care, it means that they have been told that they have less than 6 months to live with the health problem they have been dealing with. For some it means they can settle down and just be...stop the fight and turn to living the best way they know how. Usually it means new medications that they can take as they need and an end to the pain that has been part of their lives since they found out they were sick.
The patient that I admitted earlier in the week has been very sick for a long time...not eating, not doing day to day life and just lying in the bed trying to recover from the chemo side effects that were sapping his energy. When it was time to see if the chemo was working, the scans showed that it was not...the cancer was still there and bigger than before. The doctor said those words that no one ever wants to hear..."I think it's time for hospice" and they called me.
When I sat at the kitchen table explaining what we do and how we do it, the patient politely excused himself and went to lay down. He denied pain but the body language and look on his face told me different. I could tell he was in pain but it was hard to discern where the physical pain ended and the emotional pain started. It was just easier to lay down and try to sleep.
After he went to bed, the wife and I talked about the family...kids, how many and what the plan is for them to come and see their dad. The wife was hesitant and wanted to make sure the kids didn't have to "see him this way" for very long...how she wanted to shield them from this whole "situation".
Being a hospice nurse and a guest in a persons home is a fine line. It is not up to me to tell a family how to love a dying person or what they should do. My job is to help the patient live the best days he or she can with the knowledge and medication we have. That's it...to be kind, loving and support the family and patient WHERE THEY ARE IN THEIR JOURNEY. But, if you know me at all, sometimes I can't hold back and honestly, this was one of those times.
You see, life is hard and death is hard. Honestly, it's all hard. Being here and living day to day with illness, worry, loneliness, fear and whatever we live with is hard. Sometimes it's unbearable and sometimes we all use things to help us get through the day. I would call you a "fibber" if you say you have a perfect life. These hard times are when we find out who we are and most of us surprise ourselves with our strength and ability to keep going.
I told her that...when we just cling to our families and love them thought the difficult times the light shines thought the darkness. When they love their father with care and time, while the most difficult thing they have done up until now, will provide them memories of comfort and peace as they travel the road of life. I always say, "when you have had the worst thing you can imagine happen to you, like losing someone you love, and survive...you can do anything." And I believe it.
When I was 31 and my mother lie in the hospital bed in the living room dying, I thought I couldn't imagine anything worse. But...I sat with her and changed her and made sure she was comfortable. My whole family did...we knew that she was leaving us and we knew that in a few hours our hearts would be broken in a way that would never be the same. We all wanted to run away and hope it was a bad dream...but it wasn't.
I called Jim in the very early morning of February 1996 to tell him I was motherless and that I wouldn't have a mother to tell the stories of her grandchildren. He comforted me from 2000 miles away and told me that it would be okay...eventually time would make the pain duller and I would be so glad I went and took care of her. At the time, it seemed like he was just saying words...that this deep pain would never subside. Then, in December 1996, when my Howie was born and I wanted to call her...the stab in my heart was there but mixed with the joy of new life and the comfort of knowing I did the best I could for her at the time.
As much as we want to shield our kids from the hurts of life...we cannot. We will all die, all get sick, all have bad days that we wish we behaved differently. The only thing we can to is show them how to get through those times, with humility, grace and love and sometimes honest to goodness anger when it all gets to be too much.
I told this wife who is losing her husband that she did something right to have her kids fly in to help her...and want to stay. She raised them right...with the compassion and hearts to bear the burden of grief and loss with her...to cry with her and her with them, to love their daddy out of here through the darkest moments of her life and theirs...and then to love each other enough to be family when its them...just mom and the kids.
I have always wished that my kids would not know hurt and broken hearts...but now I wish them the wisdom to know that time will dull the pain of the hurt and broken hearts and also, the way you care and love each other during that time will provide incredible comfort as well.
As our county marches for history to be told in books as it was, it made me think about how we all try to change history in our own lives to make it more palatable. But like in the history of the country and the history of our lives...it is what it is and how we respond to it is what makes our lives what they are.
Love your family tonight and,
We'll tawk tomorrow.
I love you all,