My mom told me from a very young age that the nursing profession was one that I should never consider. I am not the kind that handles any bodily pieces or liquids that are not attached or exiting ones body well. My boys know from that first wiggly tooth to not come to me with it. I cannot stand to even see it wiggly much less handle that nasty phase of when it is dangling by that last bit. Just writing this is making my skin crawl.
My Mom Awarded Nurse of the Year
As you can imagine, with six very active boys, we have had our share of nasty body piece that have come detached or foreign objects piercing flesh or many times fluids exiting and not landing in places that would be appreciated. Sanj has usually been around and done the ER trips to have things removed, attached, detached and/or any glued back. Oh the stories… but that could be a whole book in itself!
The last few weeks of my mom’s life, she slowly lost the ability to do things that we think nothing of and most take for granted. My youngest brother was often the one that helped her over the months do things and yet as the last weeks came, it was me that she needed/wanted to help her. My mom commented every so often, “Who would have thought that you would do all this, “ and the voice in my head would often agree and think, “Certainly not me!!!”
We had in home hospice care and the nurses and aids would come and do their thing. Often, even though help was there, my mom would still ask me to do stuff. It really is amazing how God gives you the strength to do what He asks of you.
Here are some of the things I learned… what nurses do is something that no one in any other profession does. Their jobs require skill, knowledge above and beyond the books, gentle hands, gentle voices that can be firm when needed, hearts that are huge and a true love for people that often requires them to go above and beyond. Being a nurse for 30 plus years, my mom was truly a difficult patient in her last months. Looking back, I realize that it was likely fear and loss of control that likely had her “misbehaving.” I am pretty sure somewhere on the hospice wall is a picture of my mom with the award of Most Difficult Patient.
The whole time I was there, the nurses were great. And yet, my mom’s last 24 hours, when she decided to stop fighting and she was ready to go, the nurses that were with us those bleak, scary, horrible hours, may actually be angels. All my mom wanted was a bath. Not the sponge baths she would get at this point but rather the baths/showers we take for granted every day. As she lay there, struggling to breath, as my brother and I would dose off, wondering what the next hour would bring, this beautiful nurse gave my mom a bath. Of course it was a sponge one but she did not have to do this. She was clean and at this point would not have known better yet she did this with such kindness. She then spent at least a half hour massaging my mom’s legs and arms. I am sure that at this point my mom did not really understand any of this but must have felt comfort from the touch of this nurse as she so compassionately massaged my mom. Another nurse came into relieve the night nurse and yet this nurse still stayed. Together they dressed my mom, combed her hair and blessed her with dignity as she was breathing her last breath. Soon after this, they called my brother and I in and said she was going. She took her last breath. She left us with dignity and pride that she would have wanted. I may not remember these two nurses names, but I will always remember their acts of kindness that the hospice staff showed my mom.
To all the nurses out there, Thank you. Thank you for going above and beyond what is required of you. I have often said I never understood why anyone would want to be a nurse. I still don’t but am grateful for you beautiful people that do!