This morning, as I walked into my son's room...I began to think about what lies ahead. It made me think of the quote, "These are the times that try men's souls"...but in my head it was, "these are the days that try nurse's souls" and woke him up. He stirred, more like a grizzly bear then a sleeping child and told me he heard me. I walked out with a heavy heart.
Today is going to be a usual Friday at work in some ways but not so usual in others. This Friday is most likely going to be the last Friday on earth for a few my patients. They have voiced there wants and needs, they have said their good byes, they have made the plan. Now, it's all up to the human body and human spirit to let go.
Sometimes, no matter how badly someone wants to be done with life, it's not time yet. They have a strong heart, a strong spirit, a strong will to live even though they feel ready to go. From a hospice nurses standpoint, that is the time when I have to do my best work, my most holy work...helping the patient and family find some peace in the process.
I use the term "process" daily with dying because it is...a process. People get a diagnosis, stop treatment and are done. But I can tell you that there is a time for everything whether we are ready or not. But today, I have watched all week as the patient's, their bodies and the caregivers have become ready...
So, today, as Jim says, "I will get all my patients tucked in." My day will consist of visits that include teaching...talking about all the medications, and planning for things that come up that aren't planned. The clinical, nursey things that make me know I am doing the best I can to help the patient with their symptoms.
Then, knowing me, I will spend the most time with the family letting them know they are doing a beautiful thing for their loved one, and leave hoping that I said enough to calm their fears of inadequacy...their fears that they are not doing enough.
I'm sure I will be running late all day...on Fridays, families don't want me to leave. I will drink 5 cups of coffee at the table and honestly have a hard time leaving them. Interestingly enough, the patients, at this point are good...they give me the knowing wink that after all of these years I have learned means, "take care of my family" and I give them the nod. When you take care of someone so intensely for so long, it's almost like we can read each others minds.
So today, like other Fridays, I will say my goodbyes...I will hug them and feel their cheek on mine...and tell them I will see them on Monday. They will give me the knowing wink again which means, "don't be so sure" and I will wink back, but knowing this Friday, they are probably right.
When it's time to go I will walk out of the house with the main caregiver and we will talk by the car...saying it all again to make sure they know what to do should this be it...and we hold each other tightly...them caring for me as much as I have cared for them...
I'll get in my car, wipe my drippy eyes and go to the next house...to do it again.
It's going to be a tough day today...and I want it to be my best day of nursing ever...
May it be so!
We'll tawk tomorrow,
I love you all,