“But, Helen, please do this for me. I just can’t bear to tell them. I don’t want to be the villain. This is my own family we are talking about. They cannot hate me now.” She pleaded with me, with eyes swimming in tears and voice quivering. She was the daughter of a hospice patient.… Continue reading Gone Fishing
My crazy week was winding down, finally. Admissions, multiple visits, IDT and unbelievable family issues (literally cannot make some of them up) all stirred together created a week where I am positive I acquired more than a few new silvery strands of hair. But, alas… it wasn’t over until I returned all of my calls…… Continue reading Dear Doctor
Being a hospice nurse is a lot like raising a strong willed toddler. There can be vast shifts in mood without notice… laughing and crying often find the sweet spot where the lines blur. So many things are out of your control.. try as you might, be as proactive as you can, without a doubt… Continue reading When The Universe Speaks
Dear new hospice nurse, Congratulations. For whatever reason, maybe you have decided quality of life is important or maybe you have had a first hand experience, your path has guided you to becoming a hospice RN. Welcome to a whole new way of nursing. On this side we are able to actually get to know… Continue reading Welcome to Sending….
This idea of a blog post about forgiveness has been floating around in my mind for quite some time. My posts don’t have to come from any one specific incident and this one doesn’t. But rather, from small episodes, which, weave themselves together and set me off pondering. My own life experiences can so often… Continue reading Forgiving
When my work phone rings early on a day off, I tend to not wake up. When it rings twice, I start to get conscious. By the time it’s the third try and it’s my personal phone, I am wide awake. Before my eyes even opened, I knew it was a phone call I would… Continue reading When It Is One of Your Own
My blog has been quiet lately. I haven’t found myself in the correct headspace to actually write. I would start a post and then just abandon it because the words sounded choppy and there was no connection to it. My innermost voices have been a symphony of different emotions, one jockeying harder than the others… Continue reading The Weight.
“It takes a special person to be a nurse and it takes an angel to be a hospice nurse” I am no angel I will not always know the perfect thing to say I will not always be on point I am not perfect nor am I an angel, but here is what I am… Continue reading No Angel
“Helen,” she said, as she wiped away her tears, “I hope you never have to experience this. I hope you never have to feel what it feels like to be making a decision that could be ending someone’s life.” Her mom had just literally passed, the room still felt like full of her presence. My… Continue reading I Understand
She was the type of old lady I want to be. She was sassy and opinionated. Mostly confused but, had moments of crystal lucidity. Her eyes were set on a fellow resident and no amount of reasoning could dissuade her that this was going to be her boyfriend. She loved Diet Coke, but, fountain only… Continue reading Not 9, But 99
It was a particularly hard day in the middle of a particularly hard few weeks. Nothing was going the way I wanted it to. I had snoozed then alarm one too many times and missed the small sliver of free time in the morning that I could exercise before work. I had forgotten to charge… Continue reading The Cry
Nurses are the ultimate Jekyll and Hyde. So kind to others, but, brutal to each other. What happens when a bully becomes the bullied?
I always try to prepare myself for a new admission. Reading over the notes and reports, a plan starts to take shape in mind, even before I have my first visit. Plenty of times, almost as if it were habit, autopilot kicks in. CHF? Oxygen, morphine, diuretics, meds to increase the strength of the heart’s… Continue reading Take Two
No matter how prepared you try to be, you never are. All of the education – explaining about how the body will change, what medications will be used and how each symptom will be managed – prepares only minimally. But, we still put so much effort into the preparation of -the- moment. The progression towards… Continue reading What Next?
The image of a nurse running down a hospital corridor. The picture of a nurse getting dressed in isolation garb to care for a critical patient. To most people, those are the images that flood their minds when they think of a textbook RN or CNA. That’s how we are portrayed in the media and… Continue reading We Are Here
When I feel the urge to blog, it normally will happen in response to some idea swirling around. The problem with that is, as anyone who knows me, my brain is a never ending train of thoughts. I may be showing my age, but, it’s like the VH1 show, Pop Up Videos, when the bubbles… Continue reading When It Won’t Gel
As many know who have read my writings before, I tend to be very transparent with my feelings. Being in hospice has afforded me the opportunity to witness, first hand, the rainbow of emotions that make the human existence. Today’s writing won’t necessarily have to do with hospice specifically, but, is compelled from a place… Continue reading Let’s Be Honest
We have all had these types of visits. The kind that you literally cannot get out of the home fast enough. As I rushed into the safe cocoon of my car, the tears that I had been trying so hard to hide came flooding out. Not wanting to be seen by anyone connected with the… Continue reading Scream
I am exhausted.. it’s been a crazy long day. I left the house this am before having had coffee and returned home, exhausted. Lunch was a diet soda, which I grabbed as I was getting gas. I kept thinking that after the next visit, I would find a decent bathroom to help my screaming bladder,… Continue reading What’s It Worth?
I thought a lot about writing a blog entry like this. It’s very personal and raw. It’s something I have struggled with, covertly and then, overtly for many years. Acknowledging it was very freeing because as much as I didn’t want to admit it, anxiety has played such a huge role in my life. My… Continue reading My Own Mirror
When someone dies, it is always a difficult and sad situation.. Like many people, my heart is so heavy today. Kobe Bryant, his daughter and several others lost their lives in a helicopter crash. To me, Kobe had always been special. He and I were born in the same year, same month, same day and… Continue reading Walking Together Forever
Anyone who knows me, knows I am not so great at wrapping gifts. Don’t misunderstand me, I am a great gift giver. I take the time to think and plan each detail of the gift. The rush knowing how much the receiver will ultimately love the present makes the effort of wrapping so totally worth… Continue reading Gifts
“I know you hospice types”, he looked over at me as I jotted down notes, “you are going to admit me now and just start taking away all my medications.” I looked up at him and thought about his words for a second. His eyes glimmered with a bit of mischief but, also reflected his… Continue reading Addition and Subtraction
I can’t tell you what I am thinking because I know I will cry I am not supposed to cry. Stoic. Steely. Keeping my emotions in check. They belong in my bag.. tucked away with my stethoscope. But, as I see you there… struggling. Your body so tired from the fight. Your spirit heavy with… Continue reading Courage
Her face was gaunt, lips dry, eyes without that indescribable flicker of life… her body tired and unable to fight anymore… she was at home, surrounded by her family … her faithful dog occasionally bouncing up to the foot of the bed, which made a loud creak when he found a spot he liked. Occasionally,… Continue reading I Won’t Do That
A long time ago, when I was a baby nurse, there was never any real preparation for life on a nursing unit. Sure, we knew what the textbooks said about how to care for a patient. I knew about vital signs and lab results. But, I really never knew about the interpersonal dynamics that can… Continue reading Other Nurses are Friends, Not Food
Fear is such a confusing feeling. It causes some to run from the object they fear and others towards it. Some fear the actual feeling of fear without knowing what exactly it is they are afraid of. Is it like the young child, who after put to bed, lives each second worrying about the monster… Continue reading Don’t Be Scared
It’s one of those things that gets talked about, but, it is done so in the most abstract of ways. There are enough descriptive words attached to it, that we can imagine it but cannot quite grasp the enormity. It’s just like if you have only read about the Grand Canyon but never actually visualized… Continue reading Mirror of Truth
Nursing is the most unique of professions. It is done not just by what one is taught in school, but, the tidbits learned through years of experience. There is an intuition that cannot be explained but is almost always spot on. We nurses are a different breed. We run towards situations as others run away.… Continue reading Untitled
A moment becomes a memory just that quickly. The people that we see everyday can fade from our lives long before we are ever ready for it. The shock value of losing someone special is normally followed by a wave of regret, grief and sorrow. Regret is a bitter ghost of a reminder of a… Continue reading When It Becomes A Memory
I have to share a little secret. I try to stifle it down and silence it, but, it doesn’t always work. It’s something that is so hard to say that I hear my inner voice saying it and am aghast. That just can’t be. You see, sometimes, this hospice nursing thing stinks. It’s hard. It’s… Continue reading Hidden Hero
I knew you were dying before I ever laid eyes on you. Arguably, everyone is dying, but, you were really dying. I am a hospice nurse, it’s part of the job description. You see, I play the part of the nurse and you play the part of the patient. That doesn’t make this any easier… Continue reading Lucky
The days are frantic and busy. There are times when it almost feels like your feet are stuck in quicksand – running as fast as I can but, it feels like nothing is getting done. In the midst of it all, the phone never stops. The bings, the ringing, the emails – it seems to… Continue reading Past Passed
As nurses, we are taught to be number lovers. Blood pressure, pulse, weight, height, time of last meal, distance ambulated….you get my drift… It is one of our chosen methods of communication… Listen to a nurse giving report… it’s a complex word soup of stats, values and findings. For hospice nurses, it’s a tiny bit… Continue reading The Most Vital of Signs
The actual moment of death… the second that the heart, after years of repeatedly doing the same rhythmic movement, stops. The silence. The final breath… this can vary… as sometimes, it can be abrupt and just as regularly as one is breathing, suddenly, they stop. There could have been some warning signs – some pauses….which… Continue reading Demystifying Death
She lays there… here eyes dancing between slightly open and closed… her breaths…much more pronounced now…it’s almost as if her whole body becomes a party to each deep inhale… her chest rises, but, so does her abdomen, but curiously not in harmony… her skin is sallow has taken on a waxy appearance…her cheeks are sunken…her… Continue reading The Final Moments
You know that feeling, it’s the feeling of being in a room and all eyes are on you. You are expected to know every answer. You are expected to solve every problem. You should have the right words to comfort. You need to be able to make it all right. You need to find everybody’s… Continue reading Can Do
It’s the dawn of another Nurse’s Week. I remember working in the hospitals and my coworkers and I would try to guess what cheesy gift we would get. Would it be a branded tumbler? An umbrella with the hospital logo? Maybe it would be a $5 off coupon to the cafeteria , which if you… Continue reading Nurses
The drives between patients often is my own thinking time. The radio is off and as much as those calling and texting, my phone normally lays buzzing away on the passenger’s seat. I need to process what I have done, what I have seen, what I have heard and how it all felt. I am… Continue reading How You Feel?
I never claimed to be overly informed about a lot of professions. I don’t know what a grip on a movie set does nor can I explain what happens on an off shore oil rig. One thing I do know, with great detail and accuracy, is the life of a nurse on shift. While we… Continue reading How Will The Cards Fall?
I can’t tell you how many times you cross my mind during the day. I can’t tell you how I worry about you and your family. I can’t tell you the times I have left our visits with a smile only to turn the corner and allow the hot tears to pour down my cheeks.… Continue reading The Things We Don’t Dare Say
“I know you can’t give a specific timeframe, but”… How I wish I had crystal ball that clued me in on events that have yet to happen…. The end of life is such a profoundly individual experience. Much like the labor of entering this life, exiting is full of unknowns, even for those who have… Continue reading Just Not Ready
I have never really stopped to think about the number of patients that have passed through my care over the years. Guessing would do it no justice because even my most hard thought estimate probably wouldn’t even come close. The different types of nursing that I have chosen to explore have allowed me to see… Continue reading Out of sight
On a recent afternoon, I was texting with a former coworker. We had not talked in a while and were playing the catch up game. Talk shifted to my job and how it seems to be the opposite of everything nurses are supposed to do. Instead of standing guard and blocking the attempts of death… Continue reading Mirror
I know that it’s my job I know that it is what I am supposed to do I know that it is the reason I am brought into this situation. My role is that of leader, guide, hand holder, truth teller and comforter. But, sometimes, the lines blur a bit, the blue runs into the… Continue reading Blur
The words flow like rivers from both sides of the bed. Words of unspoken feelings and emotions. Sounds that form sentences, which for whatever reason, until this very moment, were held captive. After they have been uttered , eyes will sometimes find their way to me, as if by some way, speaking those words in… Continue reading The Presence Present
It’s always those end of the day visits.. You know the ones where they are unplanned but you have this overwhelming pull to go The ones where it has been a long day already… you could easily just head home to chart, but, at the intersection that would decide the fate, the choice is made… Continue reading Special
Do you ever feel like you aren’t the nurse that others think you are?
“Helen, does she know I am here? Can she hear me?” Questions like this abound when a loved one is close to crossing the vast divide. Tasking me, a simple hospice nurse with providing the answer to such a profound question, is something that always shakes me to my core. You see, the truth is,… Continue reading Knocking On The Door
To the loved ones of hospice patients: I cannot begin to express the amount of gratitude I feel because I was allowed to care for your loved one. You might not realize this, but, I walked this journey with you. Of course, your grief far surpasses anything I could every feel, but your pain has… Continue reading I Was Angry At the Hospice Nurse, Too…