Life as a Hospice Nurse Part 3

As I mentioned yesterday, the last week of work was by far the hardest of the last two months.  Not only am I now very uncomfortably pregnant–making it very difficult to work a full day!–but the cases that I have had lately have really touched my heart and have at times made me extremely sad.

In the last two months I have cared for two patients with ALS.  Last week I saw my second ALS patient.  She has a caregiver who is amazing with her and can communicate and understand her even though the patient is unable to speak.  They have a communication board that is divided into 6 sections.  The caregiver points to a section and the patient is able to blink her eyes to answer yes or no.  Then they go line by line until they reach what the patient wants to “say”.  There is everything from “push my glasses up” to “I’m cold” to “fix my bra” on her list.  And down at the very bottom in the lower right hand corner it simply says, “THIS SUCKS!”.  I pointed that out to her and her caregiver said, “Yes, some days that just has to be said.”.  And it DOES suck.  I HATE ALS.  I hate it, hate it, hate it.  I pray that there is some very simple cure out there that is going to be found one day soon.  It is an evil, awful disease.

The same day that I saw this ALS patient I also visited with a 20 year old with brain cancer.  He has been fighting it for two years now and just recently was told that Hospice was the best option for him at this point in time.  He is the most pleasant, kindest young man.  He was so respectful–everything was “yes m’am” and “no m’am”.  He and the grandparents who raise him have a strong faith.  And although they do not understand why he has to suffer they do believe that even still God is good.  I couldn’t help but think though that it just wasn’t fair.  Instead being concerned about studying for a college exam, he has to spend his days checking his blood sugars and counting carbs and insulin units because of his steroid-induced diabetes.  Instead of playing on the college football team, he is recovering from a stroke caused by his tumor.  He can not plan for his future other than the next day…and even that is not a guarantee.  I left his home and cried all the way to my next patients house.

I had many other patients last week that greatly saddened me.  An older women with Alzheimer’s who could not even recall her son’s name.  A man recently diagnosed with Metastatic Melanoma that had gone to his brain (can I put another plug in here for wearing SUNSCREEN?!).  I just don’t understand it sometimes.  Why do some have to suffer so?

I had a conversation with a new co-worker last week about how unfair it seems sometimes.  Kids getting cancer, babies dying.  Sometimes you just sit and think, “when is it my turn?”.  When will something happen to my loved ones?  I said that we can’t really do anything but pray for the health of ourselves and our family and pray that when or if we are afflicted by sickness that God will give us the strength to endure it.

I will be completely honest.  I live in constant fear that one of my loved ones is going to get sick.  Or worse, is going to die.  I hear about a child with cancer and I immediately start wondering which one of my children is going to get cancer.  While working in home health I cared for an 8 year old who died shortly after Christmas last year.  EIGHT years old.  My daughter is almost eight.  Why have I been so blessed to have a healthy child?  I know two people who have lost their babies to SIDS in the last year and I am already losing sleep over the fact that I am bringing another infant into this world.  What if that happens to me?  What if something happens to me during my surgery?  What if Aaron’s kidney starts to fail?  What if he gets cancer?  What if something happens to my dad and he can’t care for my mom?

The list of my fears and worries is at least a foot long.  And my fear at times can be crippling.  Last night I was all snuggled next to my sleeping three year old on the couch and I thought about how precious she looked.  And then all those fearful sad thoughts came into my head and I laid there and cried.

Aaron and I talked about this a little the other night.  He worries too he says, but he doesn’t dwell on it.  Sometimes I dwell on it.  I think that Satan wants us to live in fear.  He wants us to think these horrible thoughts because it takes away our joy in life.  He wants us to wonder if our faith is strong enough to endure hardships.  He wants us to feel weak and powerless and hopeless.

And I hate feeling that way.

In Isaiah we read:

“Do not fear, for I am with you; Do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God I will strengthen you, surely I will help you, Surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.”  Isaiah 41:10

I have to remind myself that if bad things come still God is good all the time.  We may not like it.  We may not understand it.  But in the end God is holy.  God is righteous.  And God is smarter than us.  One day this life and all it’s hurts and pains will be gone and we’ll wonder why we were so afraid of death.  Until then I pray that I can find comfort in Jesus and that my fears will ease so that I can enjoy the precious blessings that I have been graciously given.

I do love my job.  I love helping people.  I love feeling like I have made a difference.  As I have often heard it said, Hospice is the hardest job you’ll ever love.  I believe that with all my heart.

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1 Response to “Life as a Hospice Nurse Part 3”


  1. 1 Misty October 22, 2009 at 7:15 pm

    That was very well said and I had to blink back tears while reading it. Couldn’t agree with you more. Everyday is a blessing and we have to see it that way, regardless of situations. God is good!.
    Love ya


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