Thursday, 16 February 2017
I'm sick right now. I have the flu and it hit me hard. I woke up Tuesday morning feeling too awful to go to work and laid or lay, can never which one is correct, on the couch all day. I also had to cancel my flight and hotel because I was supposed to fly out to Vancouver yesterday to visit my daughter but I couldn't because I felt like shit.
I'm feeling like a decrepit old lady, wandering around my house in my housecoat. I still feel rotten, although not as bad as Tuesday. Yesterday morning I felt so awful that I phoned the big guy at work crying because my body felt so awful, pain everywhere, headache, fatigue, diarrhea, fever, fainted on the toilet.
I have been very lucky in my life to have never suffered any serious illnesses. I had pneumonia once when I was twelve years old, still the sickest I've ever been in my life. But I have spent a lifetime caring for people who are suffering with some horrible illnesses, some short term, some long term. How do my patients do it?
We have a patient right now who will die, there is no other option. She's around my age. She has been in the hospital for months now. She comes down for tests on almost a daily basis. She is miserable. Her partner lives a the hospital. Nothing will get better for her, until she dies. She is suffering. She has tubes everywhere. She can't eat. We drain fluid off her abdomen every few days. It's horrific really. Modern medicine has figured out how to extend life but not how to stop suffering.
I had difficulty suffering for two days. How do people go on knowing that every day will entail suffering, until they die?
Sunday, 15 January 2017
Things I'm thankful for today.
We took Katie out today. It's been a month since her meds were adjusted. It was like a new young woman. Or perhaps the Katie I remember. Her signing was incredible. She didn't get stuck in ruts very much, by ruts I mean stuck on one word or topic that she keeps signing over and over and over again until she gets upset, unable to get out of the rut. She even helped me remember signs I haven't used in ages. I took the new communicator over to her place and she was using it and laughing because she kept picking "I want to go for a walk". She tried all the buttons but remembered where "I want to go for a walk" was and kept purposely pressing that particular button. She had a very short bout of anxiety when a woman got to close to her but I hugged her tight and told her she was safe. The cape didn't have to be on the whole time and she even walked for a bit when we first got to the mall and there was almost nobody there. Color me surprised and so thankful.
The weather has warmed up and I was able to take the dog for a long walk this afternoon. I even took her into the deep snow to run off some of her energy. The sun was shining. It was lovely.
Supper is cooking, our granddaughter and her parents are coming over for supper.
I slept for twelve hours last night. Wow did that ever feel good.
What are you thankful for today?
Friday, 23 December 2016
Merry Christmas to all.
Things I'm thankful for today.
A cat sitting on my lap while I type.
A dog in the chair beside me.
A lovely man who hugs me daily and knows me deeply.
Friends to love and who love me.
Children to love and a granddaughter who reminds me of how amazing the world is.
My middle daughter is home for Christmas and Miss Katie is coming Christmas day.
Love and friendship at work, my work family.
A warm home.
Food in the fridge.
Time to cook and decorate cookies.
I don't mind that I cry so much anymore. I'm crying as I type this, thankful for the love around me.
Blog friends whom I've never met but still consider my friends.
What are you thankful for today?
Thursday, 15 December 2016
I got this message from my son just over a month ago. He wanted me to lend him money and I said no. And then I called him on his lies. He didn't like that obviously.
He broke my heart, again. He's broken my heart more times than I care to remember. I love him but I don't trust him and I don't believe him. I want to believe what he tells me because he's my son and I love him, but I also want to believe him because it's easier than seeing him for what he really is. He's a manipulative, self centered, immature, angry, hurt man.
I was never a perfect mother. I was a deeply depressed mother who chose to get angry instead of sad. If I had been sad all his life, I would have lay in my bed all day long, crying. Instead I got angry and stayed angry. Angry is bigger and more energetic than sadness. Anger made me get up out of bed and cook meals and do the laundry and drive my kids to school. Anger made me prickly and unpredictable but it got the job done.
It wasn't until I was sweeping up the house that my kids grew up in, spitting angry at my soon to be ex-husband, that I realized I wasn't really angry. I was sad. Sad that my family had been torn apart by me. Sad that things would never be the same. Sad that my ex-husband and I could not be what each other needed. Sad that I had been angry for so long.
My son is thirty-two years old. I need to stop feeling responsible for all of us flaws. He's an adult. His childhood wasn't perfect. Neither was mine. "Grow up already. Quit blaming me for your problems. They are of your own making."
My brain gets this. My heart, not so much but it is getting better. Christmas will suck and I feel terrible about that because I know I will be sad and I feel awful about that. I've never really liked Christmas and this is pretty much the icing on the cake.
I love my son very much but I refuse to accept his lies anymore; he's hurt and angry with me as a result. There is a line from a book I read not that long ago, "The Humans" by Matt Haig. The line is "I hurt and so I hurt." I try to remember that.
Friday, 9 December 2016
A patient came into today with his wife and son. This patient had lymphoma and we have treated him for the past two years. Today was his last treatment with us and the anniversary of his diagnosis. His wife couldn't stop smiling.
I'm thankful for that.
It's been a difficult year. We have worked for the majority of the year short staffed. My boss believes that all we do is start IVs. He knows we do a few other things but my main job is to start IVs and help radiologists insert central lines.
Except that's not my main job. My main job is to care for my patients. That means I listen to my patients. I look at them as they stand up and as they walk down the hallway. I check to see if they're tired, if they're in pain, if they're better or worse than when last I saw them. Is there a family member with them, when they always used to come by themselves? Are they leaning on a cane? Being pushed in a wheelchair? Are they having pain? Is their breathing okay? Do they have a fever? Do they need to lay down?
I need to understand at least a little about their type of cancer and there are as many different kinds of cancer as there are different types of cells in the human body. I need to know that breast cancer spreads to the bones and lungs and liver and brain. I need to know that small cell lung cancer spreads to the brain. I need to know that Burkitt lymphoma is the fastest growing human tumor. I need to know that ovarian cancer can cause kidney problems. I need to know that colon cancer spreads to the liver and that rectal cancer spreads to the lungs.
Our patients come back to us over and over again. We see them get better and we see them get worse. They trust us. They rely on us to answer their questions and to hold space for them. So when a patient starts crying because her girlfriend and lover of twenty-five years was found dead of a heart attack and it was supposed to be my patient that died first, I sit and listen. When a terrified six year old needs an IV started, I tell her a story about my own little girl, Miss Katie, who doesn't like needles either. And when a patient tells me they won't be coming back because the doctor has told them this is the end I hug them and I cry.
Biopsy patient's end up with chest tubes inserted because their lungs have deflated. Transfer patients from out of town can be too sick to send back. Patient's can have so much pain they can't move. There are fevers and chests filled with fluid and obstructed bowels and leptomeningeal disease. There is pain and fear and fatigue.
And we don't just care for our patients, we care for their families as well. Because often times it's harder to watch someone you love suffer than to suffer yourself.
So when I hear my manager say they don't want to cancel any lines just because we're short staffed, it hurts because I know I will have less to give to my patients. What I want, what I need is for someone to care about me so that I can care for my patients.
Sunday, 4 December 2016
Katie had a rough morning. She banged up her face pretty good. I'm not sure what happened. I've emailed her team leader because the staff who was explaining to me what happened has a very heavy accent and to be honest I'm not sure what he said. I know Katie hurts herself. She scratched her roommate while her roommate was still in bed this morning. I know Katie feels a lot of remorse when she hurts people and I know that she will hurt herself when she's upset.
What I don't know is how to stop this. It's not getting better, it just keep getting worse. I know part of it is communication, or lack of it. Part of it is her staff not knowing sign language. Part of it is Katie not knowing how to express what she feels. Her feelings usually come out in actions. Part of it is anxiety. Part of it is a fucking cape and wheelchair to protect the people around her. Part of it is a brain that can't cope and is stuck in permanent fight or flight mode.
I don't know how to help her and it breaks my heart.