The Problem With Caring

While I’ve thought of blogging a lot the past few days, it’s been so busy that I haven’t had the chance.  Hospice has really become something that I feel really passionate about.  As much as the bosses say that you have to have boundaries, how does one have boundaries when they are dealing with folks whose boundaries have been shattered?  The moments where people come to terms with their own fate, those are moments that really have zero boundaries.  To be able to be that nurse that they need, I can’t really worry about things like boundaries.

I think that people teach you their boundaries the first time you meet them.  I always know how things will mesh with a patient and their family within the first 5 minutes of meeting.  Sometimes, the air is so thick with tension – often fear, sometimes anger, sometimes defeat, that I get that I need to sort of become a backseat driver and allow them to guide how things will progress.  Then, of course there are the wonderful folks who greet me at the door and before I can even utter my name I am engulfed in the most thankful embrace.  In that hug, most of the time, I can almost hear that family member let out a giant sigh of relief.  Its as if a bad situation suddenly became a bit more manageable.

Of course with hospice, my time with patient is often pretty limited.  I love to savor every moment that I have with them and their families.  I want to hear the story of how my patient met their spouse.  I want to feel their excitement as they tell me about how they surprised their kids with a trip to Disney.  Bring me in.  Help me feel like a surrogate member of your family, who is there to drive the bus to that final breath.

The turnover seems to come in spurts.  Sometimes, I won’t have a death for a few weeks, but then, others I am busy looking for labels for the manila folders that I keep (ok, I am a little ocd) in order to stay organized.  Not wanting to waste a folder simply because I would have already used my trusty label maker to make the last resident’s name.  As I pulled that person’s name off of the folder, I realied that the madjesty of life is never fully appreciated.  In some ways, we are all like that piece of tape.  Sometimes, everyone is worried that we will become that last piece of tape, just pulled off and discarded.  Maybe in some grand galactic scheme of things we are just tiny grains of sand. But, each of us has a purpose and a path – even the tiniest of ripples in the ocean water joins with larger movements and becomes a wave.  Therefore, we are all important and should be valued.  We each have our own destiny.  That destiny impacts the entire universe.

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