I will say one thing- I like clarity. Not a fan of muddy waters.
With that being said, how can illness be explained? What makes someone so sick they die in a hospital? Why would that happen? This seems to have no answers. It does make me think, however, that maybe sometimes we are tools for others. If turn-around is indeed fair play, perhaps that's what it's about. Now I admit fully here that I am unsure about this, but it does make me think.
When I was working in a step-down unit, run by Sharon V, the unit, feeling and compassion was amazing. These people came into my life to learn something, and in the turnaround, I learned from them. For me, the floor was a better place to work, only because there was time for people to change their patterns- the life patterns that got them there in the first place. Certainly, having an episode is a wake up call, or it should be, for living better, both from a emotional as well as well as physical prospective.
When you work on the floor, you get to spend a lot of time with these people- and got to know them fairly well. Some of the more memorable ones--the woman who would not get better- finding out her dad had been in the exact room, same bed, and never returned home. We moved her, and she got her pacer (I think that was it...) and she got better.
Then, the man who kept infecting his incision with his own feces as he was finally getting attention that he had wanted his whole life. Psych got involved for that one....
One of the saddest, the CEO who collapsed crying against me in fear, saying he could run a million dollar company, but could not handle having a heart issue and was very scared of dying. (he didn't.)
The woman who came in who said NOTHING for days. She was in an odd, very perplexing rhythm. Some family member came to visit and it was in this way we found out that her son had jumped to his death 3 days before she was admitted, and she actually missed his funeral. Her heart was indeed broken.
Then, one of the most amazing- the man who was slipping away from dementia, in a rare moment of clarity, grabbing my shirt and pulling me towards him saying the most amazing words I have ever heard from anyone..."I just want to hold them in my heart" when his family was leaving. For this was a rare moment where anything he said made sense and to have it carry such meaning....
There was the man who once being put on heartmate realized that he had been living his life as the wrong gender and felt that the gender transition surgery was more important then getting a new heart. He was an interesting guy anyway, and totally toothless, as all his teeth had to be removed before the transplant could happen. He put a mirror on the back side of his door, so we did not see it, and would dress in womans clothes...so funny, sad, too, I suppose, but funny, in a strange kind of way. So, - well, I can't say it, because is sounds mean, but ...well, to hear him talk about it. Put it this way, you need your teeth to talk!
The absolute love and commitment of Julie to her husband while he waited for his heart- day after long day staying with him and keeping him up even when he got down. He was the one that named my little $100.00 Flinstones car "the speck", as he would wait for me in the morning to get to work and knew where I usually parked. I so wanted to put a "Hi Ken!" sign on my car- but the damn thing was so small, I am sure he never could have read it from the 7th floor. When he left, with his new heart, strong and tall, we all cheered and cried.
Ah, then, the whiney man who coded. For some reason, I was at his head, and made it VERY clear that he was not leaving on my watch, get back here- it's not your time, buddy.... The next week, he says that is the only thing he remembered- his wife told me that it was the first thing he said when he woke up. To this day, I swear he coded just because he felt lazy...yes, I know that's not true, but he was that sort of person. What a kick in the ass I must have been. :-)
The poor guy who sat quietly in his room, never asking for anything at all, covers always pulled way up to his neck, finally getting a heart. He was out of the ICU in 3 days- remarkable to say the least. I went to see him on the surg step down the next day. He was so happy and looked so alive- and boy, was he talkative- I believe he said more words in that short time then the entire month or more he was waiting on our unit. As I was there with the PA, he got a strange look and said "I have a headache". He was rushed to CT- it was massive bleed and nothing could be done. As each sense left him, and it was indeed each sense, you could tick them off, he still was grateful even while knowing he was dying. His last words were "Please tell everyone thank you...."
The boyfriend and girlfriend- she loved him so, and when he came back from being cardioverted (what is the spelling on that??) she kept saying that something was not right- she could not pinpoint it...but, indeed, something was not right. He ended up on ECMO, and did indeed die. If the RN's had just listened to her....
I watched med students become amazing MD's- Sanjay for sure, he was exceptional from the very beginning- clear, communicated well, was funny as well as very kind for the patients and never seemed rushed. Brad Dyke- who remains at the U- not only an exceptional person, but an amazing MD- who truly cared about each and every patient that he took care of as if it were the only one. I miss working with that team- impressive care, great compassion and an honesty that is missing often in residents that I see on midnights.
Sadly, I could also write about the MD's with egos- but those are not worth my time at all. I have seen them kill patients- all because they had to prove something to someone. Those- those are the ones that need to have something change what and who they are.
This all leads me to why I am doing this. Why I press on, why I push to learn things that I should have learned years ago, and why I am putting myself in a position that is, to say the least, difficult at 46. I love making the connection, I love letting someone have another chance, and if the end is the way it is to be, I want that transition to be as easy for them, both patient and family, as possible. I respect and value life and have a fairly strong believe that this life is not what it's all about. There is more....