Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Three in a week

I'm out of work until next Monday. The ulcer that I thought was healing nicely apparently wasn't healing at all. I found that out when I saw streaks of red in my vomit the other day. One trip to the doc, a GI cocktail, an increase in Nexium and a sick note was my day yesterday.

I was reading the obits today when I saw a familiar name in it. Two familiar names, actually. The deceased are patients that I've cared for almost exclusively over the past couple of weeks. Their passing comes as a bit of a shock to me; yes, they were in a nursing home but they weren't that sick and certainly not at death's door.

That's 3 patients in one week. Death showed up in the facility for one person and decided that while he was there he'd take a couple of extra people with him when he left. I don't believe in an afterlife so I can't say that these people have gone on to bigger and better things, but I am glad that they are no longer suffering.

All of their deaths saddened me, but the first one hit me particularly hard. He was one of those rare patients I formed a friendship with. I went in to see him on my days off, and he met my husband. We had more than a patient/caregiver relationship, and his passing came as a shock.

I was thinking about death last night as I lay in bed. I've been around death a lot; I've helped people die and I've been at a person's bedside as they breathed their last. I'm no stranger to the process, but it still stuns me sometimes. It's difficult for me to accept that the person I was talking to just the other day, the person who had likes and dislikes and a family and friends and children and a personality, that that person has simply ceased to exist. They're gone. Just like that. The bundle of chemical reactions that made them who they were is no more, never to be replaced.

I don't do very well at funerals, so I won't be attending any of them. I prefer to remember the person as they were when they were alive; I don't want to remember them as a cold, embalmed body with a face full of makeup lying in a casket.

This is the downside of this job. I have to get somewhat emotionally involved in order to be an effective care provider...and because of that involvement, it hurts when a patient dies.

I'm going to go cry now and get it all out.

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