The Night Before

The new journey starts tomorrow.. Exciting first line, right?  Catchy… Well, it’s true.  Tomorrow my career really takes a totally different turn.  You see, for the past close to 10 years, I have been a nurse.  I’ve been a med surg nurse, I’ve been a step down nurse, I’ve been an ICU nurse and finally, I was a perianesthisa nurse.  Tomorrow, that kind of nursing is gone.  You see, all this time, I’ve been trying to save lives.  Starting tomorrow, I’ll be helping lives let go.

Hospice nursing wasn’t always something I was interested in.  Anyone who knows me knows that I loved being the nurse at the head of the bed when something was going south.  Analyzing the heart rhythm, making snap decisions about what meds to give and thinking quickly in order to try to save that precious soul that was in trouble.  I still do get that jolt of adrenaline thinking about it.  How am I going to go from the nurse that dueled with death to the nurse that holds the hand of a person who is willingly making that journey?  The truth is…. even I don’t know.

My favorite aspect of nursing was always the patient interaction.  I loved working nights when the patient’s needed bathing because I could spend time with them and just let them open up to me.  The stories I have heard, the laughs I have had and the tears that we have shared.  There is nothing like being that support for a person in their darkest hours.  My nursing practice always included actually sitting on my patient’s beds, holding their hands and actually trying not to speak but to listen.

In my mind, that’s what will be the part of hospice nursing that will suit my nursing the best.  Just listening… to patients, to families and to coworkers.  This could be the path that leads me to my more precise calling.  Nursing is and always will be my calling, but, maybe hospice nursing will be my particular niche.  I do wonder, however, how a girl who is scared of death can help guide others along that journey towards it?

It’s kind of like being a reverse labor and delivery nurse.  They take a pregnant woman on a journey to birth and I take someone on the reverse journey.  A labor and delivery nurse cannot tell her patient exactly what the journey of parenthood will be like.  In the same vein, I cannot tell a dying patient what and how to expect this passage will go.  I have no doubt that it will test my fortitude, my emotional and mental boundaries and my capacity to always want to heal.  Perhaps though, healing is exactly what I will be a part of.

Not all of us will be lucky enough to die exactly how we would like to.  Hospice patients are given that benefit.  They choose to pass at home.  They can choose to be surrounded by loved ones in their final moments.  That is something that will not be the same for the vast majority of the population.  These folks have decided that they have come to terms with their illnesses and choose to have a quality of life rather than a longer quantity.  The only word I can use to describe that is brave.

So, come on this road with me.  Hear the lessons I learn and feel the emotions that I do.  This blog will be candid.. it will be raw and it will be emotional.  This is one nurse’s journey into the unknown…..

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