Wednesday, June 20, 2007

The rough part of the job...

Being a nurse has been a wonderful, insightful experiences thus far and I can't imagine doing anything else for a career, but it has lows. My problem? I have a huge heart and I will be the first to try and help, doing my absolute best to give you all I can give. Yes this is a positive and important part of wanting to be a nurse, there is a difference. Anyone can go to school and pass boards and have a nurse title, but it takes an even stronger person to want to be a nurse and to do it with everything they have in them.But becoming attached to patients and watching them part from this world, seeing people in pain and observing them go through hell trying to keep going in a society that urges them to give up their loved and hard fought independence is hard. Geriatrics, seniors, old people are what in my short career, has been the hardest challenge.

In the past, while working in a nursing home, I've seen our older generation sit in their rooms, hopeless, waiting for the family who dropped them off to once again return. The staff, nursing, housekeeping and kitchen help all become these folk's family. What a life change! Days go by and they are left to ponder how they no longer live in the home that they built, the car and license that had to be surrendered and years of working to secure their future gone along with the money which was usually taken to pay for the nursing home. No, this isn't the case for every elderly human being, but it's a side that's usually forgotten. We as a general public would like to think that our aged population is in a RV touring what's left to see of the 50 states, or sitting in a retirement village, driving their Buick's, visiting with peers. Surely, not left alone in a urine smelling facility with grandma's name written on all of her beloved belongings...

Fact is, I love working with the elderly, geriatric population. The nursing home had horrific hours, bad staff, but I always felt that there was something to be learned, and I was right, Our aging population has so much to teach us. The depression, the war, love, success, losses, parenting. Many life lessons have been taught while giving someone medications or simply engaging in conversation.

This past week, I read in the paper that another one of my favorite patients passed away. I gave him injections weekly for over a year in my present job. The visit only needed to take 15 minutes, but I scheduled him for an hour every time. He was amazing, his life was full of hard work and love for his wife and children. The man lied about his age so he could go to war with his brothers. One fateful night in WWII, during a mission, he was the only man that night to survive. The horror and pain he felt to the day he died will forever leave an impression in my heart. He carried guilt with him since that night, guilt that God left him to live, while his friends were taken early. Wow...something I would have never known, had I not asked and I'm so glad I had the chance to.

For the last month I have been doing wound care for a man. A man that I have to scream six inches away from his face for him to hear me, but I still keep screaming, so he will keep talking.The man is disheveled, thin, unshaven, unwashed and lonely. Lonely from the silence he hears, and the lack of effort of people trying. Not to mention his wife with dementia has been taken out of his home and placed in a nursing home. From what I can gather, she was so far gone, that she was abusive to him as well in that past few years, but he still cries about how much he misses her. Two children he had are buried and gone. He's alone. My heart aches for him. All he wants to do is drive to see his wife, but with no hearing and poor vision, that car's been parked for quite some time. He's worried. I'm worried for him, I found out last week that the state is wanting to place him in a home as well. Avoiding this for years, he's hurt an angry about it. The stories he shares of how hard he's worked for the house and all the money he's struggled for, only to loose it all. You know what he's most upset about? Not being able to have his garden and have the opportunity to sit in his garden and weed and to feel the sunshine down his neck. Not asking too much...

I think his time in his own empty house is coming to an end. He came for an appointment he thought he had with me yesterday and I had to clarify. During my screaming conversation I inquired on how he was feeling and if he had eaten. Pot roast, he went into great detail on how he was making pot roast. You could almost see his mouth water. Thankfully, this triggered his memory. He looked deep into my eyes and said that he didn't remember if he shut of the burners. The panic that set in was unbearable. Not only was he worried about his home, but almost as if he realized that he put himself in danger as well.

Quickly I got him on a medvan, since he was just dropped off, and contacted the police. What infuriated me was that the police in the building didn't want to help, just brushed it off until I made a strong point to call the local fire department of this man's town. The police officer questioned me on to why I was worrying about it! I had to further explain how that I, in good conscience could not let that man arrive at his door with a burnt home. I arrived at work today and was notified that they busted this man's door down and he indeed left 2 burners on. The man has a guardian angel carefully watching over him....

So, yeah, I have wonderful high points of my job, but week's like these are lows. Trying to give it my all constantly and I end of taking on other's pain. It may sound strange or odd, but I have a hard time disconnecting myself from my patients, more so with the geriatric population. They are our gems, but so often not treated as such in our society.

That's all I got for now...that's been pent up in my head all week. Sorry, needed to get it off my chest. ...now everyone go hug your parents, grandparents and listen to their life lessons. I wish I still had the chance to do so with my grandma's . OH! and I may not get to do charity like I would like, my sock drive is quite extensive, but if you or organizations ever want to donate time, activities, you should contact your local hospice or nursing home. Honestly, that was one of the residents' favorite things was getting visitors from churches, singing groups, children's crafts. You name it, they loved it. I can't resist...my sarcastic side is coming out now...instead of hugging a tree, go hug an elder, they need more of them!

yup, I'm tired...

4 comments:

Adventures In Babywearing said...

Oh gosh, you have got the biggest heart and shoulders to carry what you go through. Thank you for this because I could not do it!

Steph

milk&honey said...

I don't know what to say, this breaks my heart. You're a stronger woman than I am, and you've found your calling, and you're so good at it.

You've been put into these peoples' lives for a reason.

My Wonderful Men..... said...

I worked in patient care (I don't at this time) and cared for my patients, sometimes I would come home crying for them. Other I worked with looked at it like this is my job, I get a pay check every two weeks it is what it is. I never understood how people could feel this way about another human. I'm glad to hear there are still caring nurses out there. You are a blessing to your patients.
I found your blog through Steph's blog great post.

Peanut Butter and Jelly Boats said...

What a wonderfully sweet post. I love to spend time with my grandma. She's the best. I'm so glad there are people like you who care to take care of the elderly.