It’s Raining, It’s Pouring (2-23-2009)

After being up all night Wednesday with my Great Aunt’s passing,(see previous blog) and going straight to clinicals at 6:30 a.m. Thursday morning. I was exhausted that night but got very little sleep because I needed to finish my patient paperwork. Friday morning my instructor assigned me to the oncology floor. I was actually grateful for the assignment because this is where I want to work and she was being kind to give me extra time here. So my day begins. My patient is in her 50’s and has been battling recurrent cancer for 2 years. When I arrived she was being seen by her doctor and throughout the day, she didn’t want to get up, eat, or do anything but sleep. Mid morning I find the doctors notes have finally been added to the chart so I look to find the latest info on her treatment. Apparently just that morning he had informed this woman that she has no treatment options left. He told her she will succumb to an infection sooner or later and she should find a nursing home and contact hospice. Nice. No wonder she wanted to sleep all day!

Then I was informed a patient had passed away down the hall and I was asked to assist with post mortem care. Not many students get to do this I am told…a great learning experience. I agree, and I want to learn, but do I have to learn it today? Apparently so. I sucked up my emotional self for the moment and put on my practical self. I took out all his tubes and various medical devices. I washed him up a bit and put him on a clean sheet. I helped to prepare his eyes for harvest because he is a donor (Yay Mr. Patient!) I even put on his toe tag and body bag.

My instructor asked me if I was O.K. with doing the post mortem care, given my recent experience with my Great Aunt. I told her I was fine with it. Her reply? “Good. This is the field you chose you know.” Yes, I know. Yes, I am o.k. with it. It may sound cliche but I do feel honored to be able to help people during the death/dying process. The CNA asked me if I was scared to be with the body. I told her I was fine and she told me it used to creep her out but she has gotten used to it. To me there is a certain reverence that comes with the situation. I don’t think..eewwww that’s a dead body. I think, o.k. this person has passed and someone needs to respectfully take care of what the person and their loved ones simply cannot do for themselves. If I can assist with that then I am honored to do so. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t enjoy the work, but it is necessary and the process deserves respect.

After my shift I wasn’t home for 10 minutes when my mother calls to tell me the funeral is the next morning. *sigh* Really? Not one day for a break? O.k. got to make phone calls, got to get clothes ready for the kids (no..I don’t know where the shoelaces are for your dress shoes….wait why don’t you have shoelaces in your dress shoes?), got to get flowers, got to make food for the reception.
 Saturday was the funeral, which was lovely as funerals go. Person after person spoke of Evonah and how she taught them what it was to feel unconditionally loved. Reminding us all to love each other the way she loved us. So Saturday was my day to cry, and I did my fair share.

Today it was back to school work and writing papers and tomorrow it is back to the real world with a test on hemotological disorders. Suddenly I feel like singing “The Circle of Life” from the Lion King. Maybe I need a mental health respite. =)

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