I’ve noticed that my blogs tend to revolve around what I’m involved with at that very moment. They do not leave room for much else or even random tangents. My life is more than my job, more than my studies, and more than my family. Each touches me in profound ways at times, and because of that, I need a place where I can be random, and share or expose my very soul depending on the situation. Hopefully this blog will stand the test of time and job changes. But for now, I start with simply being…affected.
Right now, I work for an interfacility transport company as an EMT. Because of that you may not see many job related posts. I tend to take HIPAA very seriously and respect the privacy of my patients. If I do say something it will be vague, so vague I may never even disclose something as generic as gender. Hopefully I can tell those tales with enough clarity to get my meaning across.
In any case, today is one of those days. Busy and wet, with little time to stop between patients once we got going. In fact I barely remember anything of my first patient. It is all a fog. However, there are moments I remember with clarity and wonder if I’ll ever forget. I’ve been touched today in a profound way and it started with my Great Aunt Ruthie.
You see, there is a nurse at one facility we work with. The day I met her, I gawked. I stared. I blinked. Right in front of me stood my mother’s aunt. Only, 20 years younger. But that smile. That face. For a moment I thought I was 15 again and she was calling me Little Susie (a name I hate, but endure for the sake of the relatives with much more experience at life than I). Only, then this woman spoke, and the illusion vanished, for my aunt does not speak at all like this woman. Regardless, I enjoy this unit. I enjoy feeling like, for one moment of my week/day/month/whenever we get to that unit, I am seeing someone I hold dear, even if it isn’t her.
Let me preface this next part with a tangent though; I hate HOSPICE. Not that I hate the organization. I hate being handed a patient that is going home to die. I know this will be the only time I ever see this patient. Sometimes they are lucid. Other times they are not. I realize they are going to meet family that is about to start the long process of grieving, and it breaks my heart a little every time. In those moments, I try to treat them as I would want my loved one treated in their last days, not as a patient, but a human being marking their last moments and possibly their most important ones. I hate doing them. It reminds me of my own mortality and how frail life is. It’s just…sad.
So imagine when I walk into this facility today and enter the very unit housing my surrogate Aunt Ruthie. I walk to my patient’s room (we will call the patient X because of the almighty HIPAA) to find that this is X’s nurse. I am stopped outside the door. She places her hands on my shoulders and runs them to the sides of my arms much like my grandmother or great-aunt would do when getting ready to impart great wisdom to me. She looks me in the eye and explains the difficulties X has had and how she specifically wants me to treat X kindly, and with compassion. Not that I wouldn’t, but the solemness in her eyes, and the fact that she looks so much like my dear aunt, and how in tune with X’s specific needs she is, makes me choke a little. I think a part of me just died with this patient.
She came in and touched X gently on the cheek. Explained what was about to happen and where we were going. She looked me in the eye again and I think she understood, I meant to honor her wishes. She cared in such a way I’ve never seen a nurse care before. I think a part of her died as well.
I’m moved by her compassion. I’m motivated to study harder. I HOPE I never become jaded as a health care professional. She has shown me, that in spite of age and tenure, in spite of working in a very fast paced environment with high levels of stress, it is possible to care. It is possible to show compassion. And it’s o.k. to feel each time someone in your care closes another chapter in their life. I love my Aunt Ruth for all the love she has shown ME through the years, and I adore this surrogate Aunt Ruth for the love she has shown one patient today. May her compassion trickle to those around her and empower the staff in the entire unit to strive to do the same. They are already awesome providers, but today…today just simply raised the bar.