A Few Days

Would think that a few days away and I would be able to not think about work.  That’s the thing about nursing though – there is always something… that takes you right back into your work world.  Not that these past days have been any sort of vacation, but, other times, I would be able to keep the lid on the vase of my work thoughts somewhat closed.  I find myself getting lost in memories of faces, reminders of details and then drawn back in.  I guess hospice will be just like that for me.

Was talking with a fellow nurse who I have known for years, but, lost touch with.  We worked together for a good while and spent a few moments catching up.  She told me about her hospice experiences.  “I couldn’t get away from it”, she said “I would go home and cry every time I had a death”.  Her hospice career lasted 6 months.  It was a great experience, but not one that she would ever be able to resume.

I happened to be at my former hospital unit a few days ago.  My husband was with me and saw all of my past coworkers.  Everyone was enthusiastically asking me how I liked my new job.  I am pretty certain that I said “It’s ok”, or “I am getting used to it” as my stock answer.  My husband, who is so sweet, told me that if I was so uncertain of the new position then I should head back to the hospital.

The problem is, I am uncertain.  It’s an entirely different nursing experience.  I can feel my heart still beat out of control when I think about how I will react to my first death.  Having been a hospital nurse for so long, it’s such a different perspective.  I did not always think about death, because I was too busy doing everything in my power to prevent patients from slipping to the other side.  It was a duel with death, but, it always seemed that if I thought too much of it, that I would be giving it some sort of advantage.  Now, it’s all I think about.  How will I help a patient face it?  Will I support the family in the right way?  The path of thought is different….

I’m not thinking about being on the winning end of the death battle.  I’m thinking about how I can help my patient courageously transition into the unknown.  Will I be strong enough to help them?  Can I honestly be that guide for someone who is still trying to keep one foot in this world and one foot in the other?  People say that death is just a season of one’s life.  Would have to say that I do believe that for most people, it would be the winter of their lives.

Normally, I would try to bottle up these types of feelings … stuff them away until the cork of the bottle precariously held on.  I keep mentioning how I am next to patients and families helping them face the unknown future.  My big secret is that they are also next to me as I face uncertainty.  It’s something that I fear.  They just don’t know that they are, while my role is so clearly defined to them.  The question I still don’t have the answer to is, who is carrying who to a better place?

By Helen Haddick BSN RN CHPN

RN who has just left critical care in the hospital for hospice. Join me for my journey Please feel free to leave comments and like if you enjoy this

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