Friday, 31 January 2014
Wednesday, 29 January 2014
I'm taking a course right now in oncologic nursing and this is what I wrote yesterday in my journal for the course.
My aha moment today came down in RT (radiation therapy), not just during the tour, but before work while I sat with my friend and listened to her as she whispered to me. I didn’t realize or understand how much work went into planning RT prior to the patient receiving her first treatment, nor did I think much beyond the toughened looking skin on a chest or neck of one of my patients. I knew that many of my patients get radiation but it was an abstract concept until this morning.
This morning I sat with my friend as she waited to be called for her treatment. She was told yesterday that she probably won’t get her taste buds back, ever. Which doesn’t seem like a huge deal in the grand scheme of things until you start to think about supper with your family or teaching your daughter how to cook or the simple enjoyment of flavors. I think about never tasting limes again, or chocolate or even fresh bread and butter and I realize my life would be diminished without flavor because eating and enjoying our meals is part of being human.
I had to lean close to my friend because her throat is too sore to speak louder than a whisper, the same friend whom I talked to everyday on the phone for years when our kids were young. Our voice is how we communicate, how we keep in touch, how we tell someone we’re angry or happy or sad. And now my friend’s voice can’t rise above a whisper.
I don’t want her to know that her skin is going to stay looking like it is now, that she will probably lose her teeth, that life will never, ever be the same again. I imagine that she has been told all of this but our brains are so good at protecting us from pain, even mental pain, that our brains will deny the truth. Each new loss is a shock to her, the G-tube, her taste buds, her skin and the shocks will continue, one by one. And then I magnify this by the number of patients that come through our doors every day and it’s a wonder that the Cross does not collapse just due to the mental anguish that is wrought there every single day. And that’s what I remember today, that every patient is my friend, that every patient is losing something, that every patient is fighting not just a great battle, but small ones as well.
Friday, 24 January 2014
It's been a busy week. This morning we had a patient come down for a line and he looked like death when he arrived. When we laid him flat he stirred and then became very anxious, hallucinating, crying, moaning. It broke my heart. We never did the procedure. The tech and I decided he wouldn't be able to withstand the procedure. But we took about an hour and a half out of his life. Shortly after we took him back upstairs, he died. He was two years older than me.
Last Thursday I had a young man, only twenty-two, with metastatic cancer everywhere. The kind of cancer old people get, not young people. His mom talked to me, told me that she was going to make sure that whatever time he had left would be good time. She was going to cook all his favourite meals. He was diagnosed in December. It broke my heart.
A favourite patient of mine, I baked him a cake last week when he came in, came in to tell me that his news was not good. His cancer had spread to the bones in his hips, his ribs, his spine and his skull. He cried and I hugged him. I was honoured that he would go out of his way to come and tell me.
There's been a fair bit of this breaking of my heart this week, good things as well. Patients I haven't seen in awhile showing up for scans, and they're not dead.
Things I'm grateful for tonight.
The sun getting higher in the sky everyday, we drive home in daylight now.
Homemade spring rolls for supper.
Washers and dryers.
Katie is safe and well cared for.
My son and daughter are happy, going to college and living with loving partners.
Hugs from the big guy.
Friends. Good friends.
What are you thankful for tonight?
Thursday, 16 January 2014
Monday, 6 January 2014
It's a New Year. Last year was tough, losing my mum. I still miss her but it's getting much better. I miss her smile and her sense of humor but I don't miss the doctors and emergency and the endless worry, which makes me feel like a traitor. I don't miss my siblings either which is sad. I wish they had been there for my mum but they weren't for whatever their reasons. They have to live with their decisions, not me but it does still bother me the pain they caused mum. She deserved better from her own children. Or maybe not. What do I know?
I still see the world as I want it to be, not how it really is. Sometimes that's not such a bad thing. I forget easily anymore which makes life easier. I don't hold grudges like I once did, or not as long. I still hope for the best from people which of course causes problems, because they are human and often disappoint. But I'm willing to live with that disappointment because I don't want to live without the hope for the best from people. If that makes any sense.
I thankful for my friends, who I lost touch with over the past two years, caring for and grieving for mum. They were waiting for me when I pulled my head out of my ass and I'm thankful for that. I've spent the past month reconnecting with friends.
I'm thankful for the mountains which pull me back so often with their beauty and their peace. There are images of the mountains all over my workplace now which I love to look at, I can feel my soul settle when I see the images. I remember the day, the feel of the place, the calm, the beauty, the bigness that reminds me of my place in the world.
I'm thankful for my children who are mostly happy. My two oldest have loving partners and hopefully one day we'll figure out a way to reduce KT's anxiety and behaviors.
I'm thankful for my job and the patients I work with who remind me daily that life is short and precious.
This year I'm hopeful that I learn how to deal with conflict better. I still run and hide at the first sign of conflict, still feel like a small, scared girl when conflict arises. Except I'm not anymore.
What are you thankful for this past year?
What do you hope to do better this coming year?