I have to share a little secret. I try to stifle it down and silence it, but, it doesn’t always work. It’s something that is so hard to say that I hear my inner voice saying it and am aghast. That just can’t be.
You see, sometimes, this hospice nursing thing stinks. It’s hard. It’s physically and emotionally draining. Sometimes, it’s hard to muster empathy for every little thing. It’s challenging to balance everyone’s problems knowing you have a universe of your own problems.
The doctor didn’t call you back. The prescription didn’t get filled. The pharmacist wasn’t helpful on the phone. The family demanding something should have been done yesterday when they only mentioned it this morning.
Meanwhile, you keep reaching into your pocket to silence your phone because it hasn’t stopped beeping, ringing and pinging since you turned it on this morning. Equipment wasn’t delivered. The GPS took you to the wrong place. You spilled coffee on your pants and never did manage to actually drink any. Annnnnd…. just as you are getting to one visit, you are called away because you have to go pronounce.
At home, no one gets it. They don’t understand that emotionally your gas tank is close to empty. They have no idea the things your eyes have witnessed. No one understands that families of patients wait to see you as if you were a miracle worker. With baited breath they open the door and almost fall in your arms. But, in your internal dialogue involves some sort of questioning of why are they doing this? I am no one’s hero.
My dear reader, I can feel your level of anxiety rise as you read this. You know the days/weeks that I am describing. The ones where it feels like reaching deep into the depths of your soul to muster a drop of compassion.
And then, there is another admission. And you might complain about it. You might fuss about all the work that you will have to do. You are so exhausted. You just don’t want to.
Those are the moments that I have to stop myself. I have to close my eyes for a few seconds and allow myself to drift to a time years back. To a time around Christmas when my father had had enough of his brain cancer. He was weak and frail. I was not a nurse at the time. We were all scared and confused. In walked a hospice nurse who through education and emotional support helped us help him pass peacefully.
There might be so much emotional and noise pollution going on in our heads, but no one knows that but us. It has to stay that way.
Every visit deserves us at our full mental, emotional and physical capacities.
This is someone’s loved one. The patient is scared. The family is a raging river of conflicting emotions.
Would you want someone dragging their external chaos into your family member’s sacred space?
They look to us as heroes because in those moments and to them, we are their heroes. We ease pain and suffering. We care. We just are.
Do whatever you need to do to focus, but, put all the noise behind you when your finger pushes the doorbell. It’s not at all easy, but, maybe that is why this calling isn’t for everyone.
Go. Be their hero. Each visit. Every admission. Each call. Be their hero.