Archive | June, 2014

The death angel

20 Jun

So I’m gonna be brutally honest and say that today was mentally and emotionally draining. I’ve never quite experienced some of the things i’ve had to do today. Today I delivered the news that a loved one was dying to a family. Today I had to look into their tired eyes and tell them it is all down hill from here.That was me. How do you look at the person who delivers that news? In my orientation we talked about stereotypes of hospice and its employees, one of the stereotypes was that hospice nurses are “angels” and compassionate and super human to deal with the hardest situations, but really, we’re the death angels. We deliver the worst news with the kindest words. The hardest pill to swallow with your favorite drink. We play this balancing act between reality and transcendence. We must look into the souls of people who have loved and cared for loved ones to the point of exhaustion and help them realize their work is done.

I’ve recognized some things about death and dying today while working with a nurse admitting patients to our care. I thought in order to make it through this job you had to separate yourself with the situation and only deal with the objective data you’re given. But in reality you can’t be a good nurse with this stance. I realized you have to treat death as a part of life, a rite of passage as much as being born. The parallels are unnerving. It’s more important to be comfortable with the journey no matter how stressful and cumbersome it may be with each family. I’ve learned what it means to show humanity in painful situations and to remain your composure in an upsetting environment. I never thought I could do any of these things but here I am, on my couch , for the most part, intact.

I was on the shuttle leaving the markey cancer center today and I saw a man next to me rip his hospital bracelet off and say to his pre-teen daughter ” I hope I never see the inside of that place again” the daughter responded ” me too dad”. He put his arm around her for the rest of the ride to the parking garage. He was strong for her sake. I then thought of a daughter I talked to upstairs fall to pieces in the hallway and then compose herself before going back in her dad’s room. It’s funny how we have to be strong for each other like that. Family shows love in solidarity. It never changes, it never falters. Love is hard and soft at the same time. And so, I must try to be as well because telling the truth is showing compassion. And compassion is the heart of nursing.


That’s all I know for now.


Transition time

4 Jun

Just so you guys know, by guys I mean anyone waiting with baited breath for the past two years on my next mediocre blog about my semi glamorous life, I realize you must surely be ghosts. Anyways, I’m feeling a little wonky today because it is my last day at the job I’ve worked for the past (almost) two years, I feel slightly distressed that I didn’t blog about some of the hilarity and tragedy that I’ve dealt with but maybe it’s for the best. Today when I was taking all of my decorations down I couldn’t help but think to myself about how far I had come with gaining the trust of these people who are my patients. At least half of them downright refused to let me take their blood pressure. I guess that’s the quality of trust you have to gain around here and yet here I am starting over, at a new job with different expectations and different people to let into your life.

I’ve received some cards, a nice going away banner and true, honest thanks from many of my patients praising me for the care I’ve provided them with. However, if I’m being honest most of these people have taken just as good care of me as I have them. I can never forget the patience and great listening skills they have demonstrated while I ramble on about how I only slept 2 hours or how my baby is now eating cereal/smiling/crawling/walking/talking. These people have listened to every tiresome milestone throughout my pregnancy and with the birth of my child with compassion and understanding. How many times have I came into this job tired, cranky or uninspired and went home feeling like I serve some greater purpose? So many.

I also feel like I have given of myself to them. And to my co workers. My co workers could never be replaced in a million years. Salt of the earth y’all. Quality human beings. I can only aspire to be that person at my new job. I want to be the person my current coworkers have been to me. They have lifted me up and fed me. Literally and figuratively. They have kept me mentally healthy and sane. They have also said “maybe you should go get some medication for that”. Ha! And, I did. (:

I’ve also received wide encompassing encouragement accepting a job with Hospice. I’ve received just as many “God I couldn’t work there, I’d be so depressed” or “Jeez I just couldn’t do that in a million years” type of statements. I have to say, pre-nursing Jess would have said that too. But what I’ve learned in the very small amount of time I have been a nurse is that I have know what it means to be human and what it means to be humane. I know with all certainty that we will all die. Everyone. I also know death as an objective clinical scenario. I know that death can be painful and uncomfortable and terrifying. I also know it shouldn’t have to be that way. I want to make that transition as smooth and as easy as it should be. People deserve to die with dignity and in a way that is suited to them. They deserve to die clean and groomed and tended to. There is nothing at all upsetting or depressing about any of those things. I surely hope if I don’t die suddenly I die in those ways. I’ve also learned that not all people are good people, or people I want to be around but I have to be empathetic and efficient in my care. Just like my patient told me just today “You really can’t ever change people, or the things they’ve done. You can just love them.” How true.

I have rambled on and on long enough, but I hope to use this thing more often, I’ve missed it.

Blessed be y’all