Wednesday, May 25, 2005

"Another Day in Paradise"

I've ranted so many times in this blog, that I feel I need to stop a moment and really do some soul searching.

Okay, search over. This is not a rant - not at all.

I've been in our nursing homes lately - covering for one of my regional nurses who is on maternity leave. Going into these facilities keeps me focused and keeps me "real." During these visits, I'm constantly and consistently reminded why I do enjoy my job most of the time. And why I once wanted to be a nurse. The old cliched answer to that question is "to help people." Well, cliches are cliches because they're usually true.

Seeing the residents in these facilities also gives me a reality check. There's the woman in her fifties who's so large that she squeezes into an oversized wheelchair; the eighteen year old MVA victim who is brain-damaged, a quadraplegic with a tracheostomy. There are many other cases like those - old and young. But recently there was one in particular.

She is a young woman who is virtually dying. She has had severe insulin dependent diabetes since she was a teenager. It's obvious that she did not take very good care of herself. She has had one leg and one arm amputated because of the progressive vascular disease (and subsequent loss of circulation) that is a complication of her diabetes. Her kidneys have failed (also a complication) and she attends dialysis. Severe diabetes can also cause a painful neuropathy, so she is in constant pain. She is no longer on the kidney transplant list. Many people at this stage resign themselves to their impending death and decide to stop dialysis. She's not there yet.

I went in to talk to her. The fingers of her remaining hand are dark with dry gangrene. She's saying she wants no further amputations, so these digits will probably just drop off. She asked for something simple to help with the pain (she is already on medication for it) and I gave her message to the DON and administrator.

The picture of her, years my junior, lying helpless in that bed, has stayed with me.

I may be chubby; I may not be beautiful; I may not be elegant. But I'm upright, functional, relatively healthy. I have a job - I can support myself. I can live my life.

I really needed that reality check - and for that, and many other reasons, I'm keeping this lady in my prayers.

Yep - just another day in paradise.


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