I was almost afraid of walking into work this morning because I knew what I was walking into. No matter how many times it happens – and it happens A LOT in my line of work – dealing with someone’s death never gets easier. I’m not sure why, but this one specifically has been difficult to deal with.
You were still there when I arrived, but your spirit had left 2 hours earlier. Seeing you all alone in your room, still, quiet and no breath was difficult to come to terms with. I took comfort in the knowledge that you were finally at peace. I sat beside you for a while, talked to you and told you how I privileged felt taking care of such a wonderful woman. But you weren’t there. It was just a shell. Cold skin with off-white colouring and stiff limbs. Where did you go? I hope you’re drinking tea with all the others that had gone before you.
Her body lay to rest for the rest of my shift, quietly in her room until the funeral parlour came to pick her up. A body cannot be released until a doctor has come to pronounce a person dead and the death certificate is signed. Well, when someone’s dead, an on call doctor doesn’t rush over to do anything. Other than a once over and a piece of paper, there’s nothing more to be done.
I didn’t cry even though I wanted to. I felt guilty for not doing so, as if I was heartless and uncaring. I know this isn’t true. I don’t know how to explain this in words, but when you work in a profession where death is a very big part of the game, you tend to just… get used to it, for lack of a better word. I think it’s easier for me because I know this is my job. These aren’t people I’ve grown up with, or have been close to for 30 or 40 years. I knew them, but they aren’t MY family. If it was my family, God help me I think 7 deaths would send me to the nut house.
I definitely deserved my pedicure after work today. My toes are so pretty.
Collapsed on her bedroom is floor is how she was found. Code Blue was called and everyone rushed but it was over before it began. She was battling a flu bug like everyone else and from last I saw she was improving. A heart attack. Nothing can stop one of those. Her death was a total surprise to me this morning. That’s 6, SIX PEOPLE, that have passed away on my unit since Christmas. Cursed? Or bad coincidences?
I wonder what it’s like waiting for death. I suppose that’s what we we’re all waiting for in the long run, but when it’s so close that you can feel it practically breathing down your neck. Is it a welcoming blast of warm air that comforts you? Or is it frigid and chills you to your core. You know it’ll be any minute. When all that’s keeping you alive is an oxygen tank you know it won’t be long. I didn’t like to see you this way this morning. Just brought back from the hospital after your stroke last week. Palliative care now. Nothing can stop it from happening, the only thing we can all do is make you feel as comfortable as possible before you leave. I changed your blankets because they were full of sweat. Your left hand squeezed mine when I held it in my own and that made me smile. You can’t speak but I know you’re there. I told you I loved you and I meant every word. You were always wonderful to me and I hate to see you go, especially like this. Don’t be scared. I don’t think you are though, your faith was strong and I’m sure it’s a great comfort to you now. If you want to let go before I come in tomorrow that’s ok. I’ve said my goodbyes.
… I’m starting to wonder if someone has played that “game” at work. Quotations were added because I think calling Ouija a game is terribly silly, but that’s a post of rambles for another day. I pose the question because my unit has been having some awful bad luck as of late. Maybe it’s just coincidence, maybe it’s party due to the flu epidemic, or maybe it just IS and posing questions is a waste of time. Either way, I wish it would stop.
Since Christmas we’ve had 4 residents pass away. 3 of which were in hospital and one was in the nursing home. All of which weren’t much of a surprise. When I came into work this morning 2 more residents were in hospital and before 8:30 we had sent another away in an ambulance.
Have you ever witnessed somebody having a stroke? It was the oddest thing. I had gotten my resident out of bed and if you knew this person, you knew that sleep was probably their favourite thing to do. But once they were awake they were able to maneuver themself into their wheelchair and into the bathroom. I proceeded to get them dressed when all of a sudden I noticed that they had dozed off. Or what I THOUGHT was dozing off. I didn’t worry right away because this particular person had a habit of falling asleep in the middle of a task. My worry started to appear when I took note of the fact that their right side was dead. Her right arm, right side of the face and legs showed no response to anything. My loudness, cold damp cloth and light taps did nothing. Even before calling the EMS we figured a stroke was what occurred.
2013 is definitely off to a rocky start. And as much as I love the decrease in workload, I miss my residents. I hope things go up from here, ans as a side note – DO NOT play with a Ouija board.
This article absolutely fascinated me. As someone who works very closely with people who can – and do – die at the drop of a hat, I’ve often wondered these thoughts myself. DO they have regrets? If they could take back anything or do something different, would they? It’s unfortunate that due to the illnesses that a lot of my residents have I probably wouldn’t get an answer to this question if I asked it.
This article is about a woman named Bronnie Ware, who is an Australian nurse who spent several years working in palliative care, caring for patients in the last 12 weeks of their lives. This is quite the eye opener and well worth the read.
Never in my 3 years as a PSW have I ever felt such exhaustion after a day of work.
5 days straight in a nursing home is very tiresome, but it’s something I’ve done before so before I started the week from hell I paid no attention to it. In fact, I’ve done 7 days straight and never have I been so stressed and tired. However, thus the nature of the job. With so many people to look after comes a lot of uncertainty and potential problems that one doesn’t even think of when going to work.
During my week we had 2 residents sent to hospital, another one fainted on me and everyone else was coughing up phlegm or sneezing germs – the equivalent to a nuclear bomb going off – in to the air. T’was the time for yellow gowns and masks indeed.
Like I’ve said before, it’s that time of year when people tend to get sick. Unfortunately, the elderly are very susceptible and can suffer far greater damage than young kids like us. The common cold CAN kill you, I’ve seen it.
I’m hoping that when I go back to work this weekend things may have calmed down in the 2 days I’ve had off.
Or with my luck, things could have gotten worse. -_-