Hello My Support Team,
Today was a hard day full of reality for me. I had told myself many times this day would come sooner than later. We met with the hospice nurse who will be managing Dad's Case (I hate those words). I just can't help but feel that in this day and age, at some point everyone is just a number. I guess its also because I do not want anyone else to care for my Dad, know one knows him like we do. He is a special kind of character that does not fit into the norm. Dad was in good spirits, joking as usual, and actually asked me to make him a pizza after the two hour visit. He signed all the paperwork and everything is in place. Seems as though he can stay awake much longer during the day when he is stimulated. I told him that I would have to get a cattle prod, get him out of bed, and then occupy his mind. He told me I was fired from caring for him. I just have to laugh.
Everything that was explained to us was nothing new to me. I worked for many years with people in a nursing home setting very similar to hospice. I was always there for my patients up until the very end. I was there to comfort them and hold thier hand as they took thier last breath. Most had no families, or families that just placed them and never looked back. I unlike most, had a special place in my heart to take the most difficult of patients that nobody wanted to give the time of day to.
One of my first lessons in caring for people was not to treat them any differently than I would want to be treated myself. I can remember a very young man who was diagnosed with end stage cirrhosis of the liver. I could not imagine dying of this disease at 34 years old. All I could think of was that he did this to himself, he was turned away by his family, and sent here to die. Why should I feel any differently than his own Mother and Sister, they believed this is what he gets, this is the consequence you pay when you abuse your body. He drank a case of beer daily along with a fifth of vodka for many years. How could you do that to yourself I kept asking myself as I read over his paperwork.
The day he was admitted I wanted nothing to do with him. I was angered and didn't feel sorry for him. I helped admit him and get him set up in his room and comfortable.
I left at the end of my shift that day, and he was all I could think about. How afraid and alone he must be, to know your are dying, and your own family has turned you away. When I returned to work the following day, I had a much different outlook on things. I realized that this too was a disease. He could not help himself and this was the ultimate price he would have to pay. From that day on, I made a special place in my heart for him. I would spend my days off with him, I purchased a TV for him and would bring him in the daily newspaper and puzzles everyday. We became friends, and I was there for him. When he was in pain, I would fight to make certain that his pain was controlled and that he was comfortable. I can remember calling the Doctor's and telling them he needed something else, the pain and ascites in his abdomen was getting increasingly worse. I was told, he is dying, there is nothing more we can do for him. I fought and I fought hard to make them understand that this was a human being, that did not deserve to suffer this way. There had to be something else.
I was told to take precautions, always gown up and wear gloves and a mask when going in to do anything with him. I could never have done that to him, that would just be isolating him even more. I knew that when his death was near he would begin to bleed from every orifice in his body, and there was a high risk of contracting hepatitis or HIV. I still could not bring myself to do this.
When the end was near, I was there with him, holding his hand and telling him how much he would be missed. He was indeed a special person, for he taught me the true meaning of caring. I was not wearing a yellow big bird gown(thats what I called Isolation gowns), a mask or gloves. I was in my street cloths, as it was my day off.
I helped to calm him, and when the time came I told him he could let go. I can only hope he knew how much I cared, and that he taught me a much needed lesson in life.
His family was called, and never came. I spent the next hour cleaning him and preparing his body for his journey home.
After that, I always took the time to take those specail cases that nobody wanted. I was finally injured on the job, caring for a very combative, abused elderly woman. She managed to tear my rotator cuff and all the tendons and ligaments in my shoulder. I required surgery to repair the damage, and was told that I could never lift more than 10lbs with my left arm, They had to remove 2 inches of bone and all the bursa sacks etc. I never returned to the field, and later went on to becoming a veterinary technician and hospital manager.
I left my job weeks before Dad was diagnosed, because of my morals. The veterinary field is changing , its all about the almighty dollar, than actually caring for all the creatures big and small. They say everything happens for a reason, and mine obviously was so that I could be here for and with Dad.
I believe that now, I will be looking to re-enter the medical field once again, so that I can take care of all those special people and thier families. I am actually going to persue something in the line of hospice care.
I am sorry, I guess I have babbled long enough. I am still very restless, and my parents are both sleeping now, and I can't relax.
I will write again tomorrow.