That brings me to the sermon I heard on Thursday night at my church when we went to bless the missionaries. The message was "If not now, when and if not you, then who?"
The message was clear to me and resonated in my soul. If I am to be someone who lives the life I believe is good and right...I better walk the walk instead of talking the talk. Lord knows, I can talk. It's the walk that is hard.
Last week, I had the test. I had a patient that was difficult to care for and it took everything I had to go to that house. I was so conflicted in so many ways about the situation, the plan of care and the way it would turn out. At first, I thought I would just go in and tell them what to do. I mean, I'm the nurse, right? I took all the things I would need to just steam roll them into seeing things my way, the "right" way. I got in there and tried and didn't get anywhere. As a matter of fact, I just made the situation worse. Instead of understanding and then trying to be understood, I knew better. I had the answer for this woman whose husband was dying before her eyes...but I didn't know the history of the family, the issues and the life they led before I showed up. But, again, I had all the answers.
In the end, doing nothing different except offering kindness and a listening ear, the patient and family got what they wanted...a peaceful, quiet death at home.
So, as I sat in church on Thursday night and listened to the Pastor speak, I realized that if it's to be me and it's to be now, I need to open my mind and heart and listen first. I don't need to "know" what everyone should do so that I am content. It's not about me at all...it's about them and how to help them in their time of need. Interestingly, that kind of thing is usually not clean, neat and easy but it is what I am called to do.
I am learning that we are who we are, meaning people don't change because they are dying. Many times, families will assume the person will change to be something different in the last days, that if a person was not affectionate, because they are dying, they will start hugging and kissing. It doesn't work that way. I tell families that people die the way they lived. Our job is to focus on loving them in the best way we know how, without changing who we are.
"Managing expectations" I say and explain...
So what is the point of all of this? I learned a big lesson about life this week. While I know a lot about the end of life and dying, I do not know it all and, it is always better to listen and understand before expecting to be understood and listened to. It's just the right thing to do and really, it is polite and honorable.
I was telling someone that I have been a nurse for 30 years and there are still things to learn every day about caring and loving people. I just need to keep my heart open to learn...
We'll tawk tomorrow,
I love you all,