Monday, June 18, 2007

Hospice anyone?

People ask me all the time how is it that I can stand to be around death constantly. I'm sure not everybody has what it takes to work with death daily but I don't think you have to be that special to do what I do. Yes of course you need compassion and caring but aside from that and the technical things that I have to do, the most important skill is listening. Making sure that you hear exactly what is being said and not interpreting it into something it's not.

Now, the group of people that I couldn't belong to are the workers in any Hospice. These have to be the most special people in the world. Not only do they see death every day but they actually feel death every day. Imagine your client walks or is wheeled through your door, you are introduced, you plan a strategy of assistance to keep them pain free and then you basically wait. During this time you become almost a member of the family, you develop friendships both with your clients and their families and you continue to wait. Who knows how many of these scenarios are happening at the same time; how many people are preparing to die and you the Hospice worker are their main support; how many times can the heart be yanked? These wonderful souls have to grieve alongside some if not most families and continue to be the professionals that they are when the death occurs. I certainly don't envy them.

I can't tell you how many homes I've been to in the middle of the night only to find a dedicated, loving, Hospice nurse standing at the bedside comforting the one who is left behind. They're there before I get there and I usually leave them there when I go. The nurses I know have said that in order to keep their sanity they have to somewhat distance themselves but there are times ( I'm sure many ) when it hurts real bad. I know for me, watching a person die as opposed to treating the family after a death would certainly be more of a trauma to my emotions.

This week, National Nursing Assistants Week, I take my hat off to all of the nurses assistants, caregivers, family and friends who help my families before they have to see me. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

1 comment:

MedStudentWife said...

Great post.. I so totally agree !!

I've seen them at work, made meds, delivered narcotics, for them to give their patients....

I've dealt with grumpy nurses, RNAs, care giverss, etc., but those dealing with hospice/palliative care givers - I've never once seen a cross bone in their body.

I couldn't do it. I'd be a mess after the first day.