Sunday, April 9, 2017

a love letter to my best friend.

I had something all planned out to write here, but changed my mind.

Once upon a time, there were these 2.

We were so young.
So unaware of what the future held.

Not even really thinking past high school.

Then, in 2006, our paths crossed.
I mean, REALLY crossed.
I knew of you in high school but you were my polar opposite.
I remember you from high school but never dreamed I would see you again.

Then, in 2006, we saw each other.

And this is where it all began.
You made me smile, you made me laugh, we had so much fun.

We made up words.
We spilled our food.
We watched a lot of movies.

We took so many pictures,
made so many memories

We had ups.
We had downs.
We had arguments,
we grew closer.
We made mistakes,
BIG ones.
We were changing and essentially, growing up.
And BIG mistakes have BIG consequences.
We found that out the hard way.

We were surprised by our Hailee.
She was not planned.
I cried.
You vowed to get serious and make the right choices.
but it wasn't enough.
You went through U-Turn.
We got married.
and lived happily ever after.

Yes, we're happy.
BUT - marriage is work.
And it's never without its challenges.

7 years married - 11 years together.

You're my best friend.

You know me like you know the back of your own hand.
with your eyes closed.
in the dark.
in the silence.

And I treasure that.

I choose you.

and I will continue to choose you.

because we were made for each other
and I cannot imagine doing life with anyone else.

And things are going to get hard.
And frustrating.
We are not perfect
but you were a gift to me.

You are my rock and leader through this journey.
You are my sounding board and ear for all of my doubts.
I love that you work hard.
I love your easy going personality.
I love that your thoughts are deep and your emotions are deeper.
I love your honesty and your openness.
I love sleeping next to you even when you snore.
I love that you accept me as your wife - flaws and all.
I love the way you are able to fix things.
(you're the best fixer)
I love the smiles we share.
I love your humbleness and your willingness to work on us.

Because every day, you make a choice to love me.

Happy anniversary babe.

Friday, May 20, 2016

The hardest one yet.

I lost someone very, very special to me last week.
It. Rocked. My. World.

A patient that was so precious.

A patient that was a friend.
A patient that was a mentor.
One that I sat with, talked with, laughed with, worried with.
One that I called, who called me, we shared pictures of our families.
We shared stories of our children and stories of our youth.
She told me how amazing each and every one of us that I worked with were with her..
Especially that nurse practitioner who was so sweet and "easy on the eyes" ;)

She was a nurse.
She understood the lingo.
She knew the medical terms.

She had cancer and I was her hospice nurse.

We took her vital signs weekly.
Ordered meds every two weeks.
Weighed every other week or so.
Talked about her diet, her appetite, her breathing,
her pain, activities, and needs.
And we ordered oxygen when it was time.

I worried about her.
She knew things were happening internally she couldn't quite put her finger on, and she worried about herself.
Because without a CT scan, there's no diagnosing the concern.
So we treat the symptoms.
We are palliative.
Palliative care = Comfort care = symptom management.
That's hospice.

Sometimes we have warning signs.
and there is active decline.
Sometimes we have more time.
We can never tell exactly when something will happen,
but I've gotten a pretty good understanding of the whole process.
Looking at the signs and reading between the lines...

Then, there are those that don't "fit into the mold" of the dying process.
And she was one.

I went every day that week to see her, though I would have never marked her status as "imminent".
She called me her security blanket and wanted me to be there when she was feeling bad.
She would never refuse a visit from me and I would always go, regardless.
She clung to me and I hugged her tight.
She cried with me and I rubbed her forehead, and arm, and back.
I laid next to her in her bed while she said, I'm just going to close my eyes and rest for a while.

I never imagined her neighbor would call me the next morning at 7 AM as I'm getting out of the shower to tell me she had passed away.

Crushed me.

I ran out the door with wet hair, without my medical bag, in a state of fog because I didn't have the slightest idea that was going to happen.
I was in shock.
I was calling everyone I worked with because I just couldn't believe it.

I listened to the Beatles the whole way there, because she was such a fan.
It really hit me when Hey Jude started playing.
Ugh, it was hard.

I got there and there was already a community of friends and neighbors who had spent the whole night with her and did not want to leave her side.
She was in her bed, lying on her back.
Peaceful as could be.
I listened to her chest with my raspberry colored Littmann stethoscope.

She was gone.

I kissed her forehead and closed her eyes.
I changed her clothes, her sheets, made all the calls I needed to make...
And I waited with everyone else.

It's been a week.
and a pretty rough week at that.

But, I am right where I need to be.

I am a hospice nurse.

This is what I do.
And some people come into your life and touch it in a way that you will never forget.
She was one of them.
She was just that kind of person.
SO MANY lives she affected.

Still, I think of her.
Thursdays were our days - 10am was our time.
I can still see her in her apartment, sitting on her couch, laughing and telling me about the things her and her friends got into that weekend.
Like she was still here.

But there won't be any more Thursday mornings with her.
and that's sad, but to be completely honest with you,
it all happened the way she would have wanted it to.
And I can remember her in the best ways!

But she really has been the hardest one yet.

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Do you see what I see?

How is it that Christmas this year crept up so fast??!!
I mean, it's next week.
Hailee told me this morning as I was waking her up (in her sleepy little voice), "Mom, Christmas is in 8 days".
Yes, yes it is.
And I vow right now to start preparing for next Christmas this coming summer.
Because ain't NOBODY got time for this mad rush here at the end of the season.

So, I've  been working as a hospice nurse for a little over a year now.
And multiple times throughout the year, I've said, "I can't even."

But I can.

It's hard.

but Oh, so rewarding.
I'm doing exactly what I'm supposed to be doing at this point in my life.

I've learned so much about dying, death, faith, family...
Kinda morbid, but such a HUGE part of life, nonetheless.
It all comes full circle as it winds down to the last days someone spends on this earth.
And though not all the time, but sometimes, patients see people that we can't see at or near the very end.
And I can't see what they see, but I know they can.
And it gives me chills EVERY TIME someone tells me they see someone or talk to someone that's not there. That will never get old to me.
And it gives them peace - that they're not doing this whole "death" thing alone.
Because from what I've seen, some people hold on to life so tightly because they're scared of what comes next.
"When will it happen?"
"How much time is left?"
"Will it hurt?"
"Because I don't want it to hurt."

I can't answer these questions.
No one can.

And some people hold on because of worry.
"What will happen to my loved ones? I've always been the one to take care of them."
And there's terminal agitation, restlessness, and other signs that may indicate the end of life is near.

We look for signs.
We listen to symptoms.
We comfort the hurts.
We (try to) manage the pain.
Death has it's own game plan and it's different for everyone.
It's not conventional.
It's personal, it's unique.
It's not always how we imagine it will be but it's a part of everyone's story.
and it's final for our time on this earth.

Working in hospice really puts so much in perspective.
It's definitely not a 9-5 job.
Because people.
This is where my heart is.

and if they tell you they see someone that you can't, it's OK.

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