Back to Basics
Updated: Sep 23, 2019
Haven't posted in what seems like forever! I went back to work and it was everything I expected it to be (little old ladies doing what they do of course). I got a lot of love from my work family both old and new, so that was comforting.
I missed my babies though and with my history of separation anxiety, it made it extremely difficult not to get emotional when people asked about Devin. When I had Draven, the thought of having to leave him drove me insane. I would get sweaty and I'd struggle to breathe. I'd panic thinking that he would think that I had just abandoned him. I thought that he would get attached to someone else and forget all about me and that was the absolute worst.
Work itself has been bad and good. Like all jobs, it has its ups and downs. But I hate this time of year. In my profession, deaths come a dime a dozen, but like I said before, it always seems so unfair. In long term care, death makes everything around you feel so hollow. You come in and get into a routine of giving someone their medications and treatments every single day just the way they like it and then they die and you're left feeling empty handed. You get so attached to them that you even make sure you become a special part of their routine.
Long term care is a very different environment for the elderly. They've taken care of themselves for sometimes triple your lifetime and it's hard for them to adjust when that gets stolen from them. Some come to us willingly and then some of them come kicking and screaming. In the end, they come to us and at some point we miss them.
Last year, for the first and probably the only time I'll ever see it in my nursing career, we lost 14 residents over the course of 3 months and it was literally the hardest shit I've ever had to deal with. We were there for 14 goodbyes. We dried the tears of 14 families of all sizes. We shared our favorite memories of 14 individuals and we still miss them dearly to this day.
Everyone knows the old saying that they go in 3s. In long term care, that is the most absolute law and I've never seen anything like it in my entire life. You may have a couple here and there that are sick and declining and you're just waiting for them to go. You place that stethoscope on their chest, just below their left nipple where the heart beats the strongest (a.k.a. the apex) with shaky hands and tears in your eyes, hoping it's not too cold even though you know they won't be able to feel it and respond and for the longest minute you've ever experienced, you listen to total and complete silence. When that minute is up, you fight the growing lump in your throat to look up to a room full of tears and broken hearts to pronounce the death of their loved one. It crushes you over and over again and it never gets any easier. You watch the light leave their eyes and pray that you did absolutely everything you could do for them to make their final moments something peaceful.
I'm terrified to jump back into all of that. Especially the unexpected ones. When it comes to an unexpected death, all bets are off. It could be anyone and you never see it coming and in the end, your heart is incredibly heavy because you don't feel like you were truly able to say goodbye.
I know it sounds cold, but I have to think logically about my profession. Nurses help people cross that bridge between life and death as peacefully as they possibly can and we do it with ease no matter how much pain it may cause us in the end.