“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, … 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 … 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 … 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, … 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 … 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 … 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 … 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 … 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. … 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 … 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 … 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 … 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 … 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 … 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 … 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 … 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, … 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 … 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 … 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 … Continue reading
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. … 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 … 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 … 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. … 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, … 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. … 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 … 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 … 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 … 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 … 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, … 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 … 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, … 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 … 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. … 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, … 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 … 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 … 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 … Continue reading Knocking On The Door
Was recently chatting with a good friend. Like most of my friends, she is also a nurse. A long time ago in a land far away, we worked together on an inpatient step down unit. Laughs came so hard we both soon had tears streaming … Continue reading What Makes You Great
I am a proud hospice nurse. I love what I do. But, I find myself dreading my answer when people ask me about what I do. Typically, the responses involve some sort of “oh” and the loss of eye contact as they look down. “I … Continue reading A Change of Thought.