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.
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.
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.