Recently I had the honor of taking care of a patient. This person had a stroke, but this blog could relate to any0ne who has ever been seriously ill. As you probably already know from my first blog, I have been and still am to a degree, seriously ill. While caring for people who are sick now, once in awhile a memory will come to me. This is the reason for this particular entry.
As a person who is laying in a hospital bed, with no good ability to communicate your every need, you are indeed helpless. You are laying there, like an innocent little baby, hoping that the people around you will take care of you, and do it with empathy. I truly remember being in that position. One particular memory of it, I was lying there in the hospital bed, ventilated, too weak to write or signal my needs, so horribly ill. My abdomen was open…trying to let the insides heal…I had a catheter in for my urine, but was incontinent of “the other”…now of course I wasn’t eating, but was receiving tube feedings…so, “what goes in, must come out”…I remember being incontinent, and not being able to call for help. So I layed there in it, hoping for the nursing staff to come and check me. Sometimes this waiting became unbearable, as you can imagine…
I can remember having “good nurses” who would come in and talk to me, like I was a person! They were smiling and friendly! They touched me gently, checked me frequently, kept me clean and dry and some even stopped to hold my hand or to touch my cheek, thinking of the kindness brings a lump to my throat even now. I can also unfortunately remember the ones who weren’t so nice. They didn’t check me much, they seemed grumpy or indifferent, they were rough…and sometimes said some not so nice things while cleaning me up.
Laying there, so dependent on others, so helpless and scared…very scared…and very alone, is almost more than the mind can bear. When your whole life is literally in anothers hands, it changes you. I was a nurse in the 90’s. I remember all the paperwork, the heavy patient load, the doctors orders, the meds, the treatments, the management…I was a good nurse, but I know looking back there had to be times that I didn’t spend as much time looking at the patient as a person…to treat their humanity as well as their illness.
I had some really great nurses that took care of me over that agonizing year…and I never really got to thank them, and there were so many at all three local hospitals, and I was heavily drugged some of the time, so I never will get that chance to thank them…but they will always be in my heart. It meant and means alot to me in my memories how they took that extra minute to treat me like I was more than a dirty body laying on a bed.
I hope I can always remember that, so that whenever I am caring for a person that is too ill to care for themselves, I will treat them with the care and respect they deserve and then some. I will remember that they had a life before this illness brought them to this hospital, they have a family, pets, hobbies, a career…a personality. I will let them keep their dignity and pride.
To all the good nurses and doctors out there…THANK YOU for what you do and how you do it!
To any person whom I ever come into contact with or care for, I promise to always take care of you as I would a loved family member, and to not forget your humanity.
Thanks to anyone who reads my blogs! I appreciate it! Pass the word if you will!
“Mastery of Life is the Opposite of Control”…..TOLLE