When I started back to work, I asked to not have any patients with pneumonia or in the end stages of life. I just couldn't handle it. Baby steps first - I eventually started taking patients with more stable pneumonia, the ones not on oxygen or doing poorly. It went okay, each day getting a little easier. It brought back some memories, of course ... all the different antibiotics, breathing treatments, basically a lot of the same things they were doing for Dad in Arizona. Only on my patients, they were helping.
I worked over this past weekend, and apparently thought the baby steps were overrated - and started on my leaps and bounds. I took a patient who I knew was in the end stages of her life, quite possibly might not even make it through my shift. I thought that was a big step in itself ... but then not too far into my shift, I had to have a conference with my pt's family regarding her care. She was unresponsive to begin with, and when her blood sugar became extremely low I had to speak with them about not treating her hypoglycemia ... that her doctor and I felt it would be too hard on her, and that this was her body's way of shutting down. (mind you, the patient had already been on hospice and the family new she was dying)
I was nervous - I surely couldn't break down in front of this poor family! I sucked it up, dove right in, and it went well. We all agreed on a plan of care for the pt, and that was that. It was later that I broke down. I went in to turn the pt, and she all of a sudden woke up a little bit and was doing some communicating with her family. I stepped back to the outside, to let them have time with the pt. while she was awake and coherent. Then it hit me. This family didn't know how lucky they were to have some last time with her. To get to hear her voice again, see her eyes, hear her answer them. The tears started to well up, then started to fall, and I had to leave the room.
Because I never got to do any of that with Dad. I never got to tell him good bye. I never got to see him awake one more time, to hear his laugh, see his smile, see that mischevious glint in his eyes. I never got to exchange another I love you with him. Of course even when he wasn't responding, we talked to him - and I know he heard us. And I know he knew I loved him, we always told each other - and I have no regrets where that is concerned. But it all happened so suddenly, it just feels like we got cheated out of time with him, time to say our last good bye's and words to each other.
"Those who live in the Lord never say good bye for the last time."
My Mom has used that quote for years - I believe starting when my aunt lost her son suddenly, over 20 years ago. I need to keep reminding myself of that - and I need to look forward to being able to say hello to him, when we get to spend eternity together - and never have to say good bye ever again. It's hard, to have to keep reminding myself of that. Because it all hurts so badly, and I would do anything to have him back. My heart is hurting right now, it seems more broken than ever. And sometimes I wonder if it will ever get any better.