Wednesday, August 27, 2008

You Have Got to Prayer Up!

I was riding in the elevator the other day with a nurse that works at the cancer center and a nurse who just applied for a job at the cancer center. There conversation went something like this,

Nurse1: "Do you like working here?"
Nurse2: "Yes, but is can be very difficult sometimes"
Nurse1: "Really?"
Nurse2: "Before you come to work here you better prayer up if you want to make it through the day. These people are sick and the work can really get you down if you aren't careful."

Prayer up.....I really like that. Yes, you definately need to prayer up for this job.

I have had to prayer up this week. We have a patient who has been dying of cancer for over a year. The last few months he has been having a steady decline. This hospital admission the writing was on the wall....he is going to die. The question is do we send him home with comfort care and let him die in peace and in his own environment or do we keep doing invasive things in the hospital without any real hope of doing any good? In other words, should we prolong his death? This seems like a really easy answer. But, it is not. Not for families who feel like they aren't doing "everything" possible. Not for sons who cannot wrap their minds around a terminal patient who does not want to eat. Not eat? We have to feed him somehow, someway...right? It is so hard to explain the process of dying to a family. It is worse when the family is divided. Yesterday, we had a final family meeting because the indecision had gone on long enough. The patient is the only person who suffers. It was heart breaking to watch a woman who has been married for 60+ years to decide to let her husband go in peace. It was even more heart breaking to know that she wanted to make this decision last week but was to afraid of upsetting her adult children. I cannot imagine having to be so strong in a time when you must feel so weak. Having to stand up for what you know is right for your loved one when the rest of the family is still questioning.

It was really hard, some days are just really hard. I guess I need to prayer up.


Jen said...

My mom died of cancer at home, with Hospice care. It was horrible to see her slowly stop eating and drinking. She was small to begin with and she withered away to skin and bones before she finally passed away, but I am so glad we were able to let her die peacefully in her home. It was what she wanted (what most people probably want) and that is what really matters.

K J and the kids said...

I can't imagine how hard it must be to work in the Cancer dept.
Worse yet would be the children's cancer unit.

I'm just grateful that there are people like yourself to help and who can be understanding to those who need it.

Sonya said...

The reality of what you see day in and day out must be incredible and life altering. I can't imagine.

amy said...

my eyes just totally welled up. the dying process is so intense for everyone affected, no doubt! it's definitely a huge reason for me that i didn't choose a profession that involved much if any of it. people like you, my brother and a few of my dearest friends are definite heroes!