The patient who changed my life was a 72 yr. old woman.
The winter of 2004 she thought she had a cold that she couldn't shake so she went to her primary care dr., who said it was probably the flu and prescribed her an antibiotic. When it persisted she returned to her primary care dr., who then did a chest x-ray and pronounced that she had pneumonia and sent her home with more meds. After still no improvement, with urging from her family, she returned to her primary care dr. for a third time. After extensive testing she was finally informed that, rather than pneumonia, she had small and non-small cell lung cancer.
She told her family and friends that she "was going to fight and beat this." She went through the chemo and radiation, including the "prophylactic brain radiation" and ended up experiencing all of the terrible side effects. It was especially sad to watch her forget things and KNOW that she was forgetting -- losing her memory. She was told it was an "unfortunate effect of the radiation to the brain, but if lung cancer returns, it's known to like to return to the brain."
I was blessed and fortunate enough to be able to be there for her medically and emotionally. I gave her a shoulder to cry on and talk to -- held her hand and head when she was hugging the toilet. Showed her how to feed herself when the feeding tube was put into her stomach, due to the radiation burning her esophagus, because she was determined to do what she could for herself. Told her how wonderfully beautiful she was when she went bald and helped her find just the right hats.
I was with her in the hospital about a year later when she thought she was in remission, and the dr. came in and told her she had two weeks to live. Unfortunately the "prophylactic brain radiation" evidently had not worked, since the lung cancer had metastasized to the brain and bones. All of those brain cells fried to the point of her losing memory, all for nothing! If not for my being there, she would have heard this news all alone, because her devoted and loving family had just stepped out for a quick bite to eat while I was there.
When she left the hospital and went to stay at her daughter's house with Hospice on board (because her husband worked days and she didn't want to be too far from family), I was able to bathe her, offer popsicles when nothing else would stay down, literally pull out stools the size and consistency of golf balls, and when she passed away on her husband's birthday -- exactly two weeks to the day the dr. said she had two weeks to live, I was priviledged enough to be able to do her post mortem care.
The woman changed me immensely for the better. She is the reason I went to school to become an LPN. When I was taking care of her I was a CNA. I just graduated school this past June(2008) and just received my licence on August 14, 2008. I am 54 yrs. old and hadn't been to school in over 30 yrs., but this woman inspired me to go to school so I could do more.
This woman was my Mother and she passed away Nov. 15, 2005. I love and miss you Mom.