What happens to the perception of nurses, when a partner gets ill?

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    I work in the community. I look after people with leg ulcers, and post-op surgical wounds. We have a few diabetics, and also on my caseloads are clients for incontinence reviews. Part of my work is caring for palliative care patients, and giving emotional support and pain management. We will be notified at short notice that a palliative patient, seriously-ill will be coming home for the final journey. We provide equipment and co-ordinate services with the palliative cancer nurse specialist and other cancer nurses.

    I find it a little difficult looking after cancer patients...because my wife was diagnosed with breast cancer in April 2003 - she is now a survivor.

    When she was being operated for another primary tumor in March 2004 I found it especially difficult. I wonder if at at that time my employer should have offered me other assignments. It didn't happen because I didn't say anything. At that time we didn't have a manager. It was you just make the best of it.

    My wife at times when we plan ahead says to me - maybe i won't be there then, when we plan thinks for 10 years time.

    It really brings things home.....

    Perhaps it might be better if I found a different job to do, because I get referrals for people who 5 years down the line have a recurrence, but of course not everyone has recurrences, and i'm comforted that people with cancer live a long time now.

    I wonder how other nurses feel, and if its happened to them, and if they changed careers or did what?
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  4. 3 Comments so far...

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    First of all, I want to congratulate your wife on being a survivor. I don't have any first-hand experience with cancer but my son has had multiple admits for severe asthma and at one time we were told he had cystic fibrosis. When he was ill, I found it very difficult to care for the CF kids. Things are better now, but I think if you are uncomfortable then perhaps looking into alternatives would be good for you. I wish you and your wife all the best. Take care.
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    My daughter has CF....the main reason i got into nursing....But it is very personal, definitely would find it very difficult to work with a CF child.
  7. 0
    It may be really hard to think of this, but I think it may help you if you really try to see your worth in this situation from the heart!

    Being a partner of a survivor gives you a unique view from the patients and patients family's perspective. I find this to be a very helpful and useful thing! You can also be seen by a patient and family as representing hope, since your wife is a survior! You have the ability to present help, hope, empathy, and compassion by doing your best, sharing your story. You will make a connection with patients far more than someone that hasn't been there! This is a gift...and one that needs to be seen and appreciated .

    When confronted with situations that I am uncomfortable with, I do what I call "inside mirror". My theory...one can always see fault when looking at at mirror, they see the outside and wish to change things...but what about feelings? I find that when I keep a journal of what I am feeling (five minutes a day or even every other day...heck PRN if you don't have much time or energy) I can actually see my feelings/thoughts at face value...like a mirror to myself! Then I can change the way I feel about things, or accept them as valid and work around them .

    I really felt this helped me a TON, maybe if you have time or the will to do it...it will help you as much as it has helped me! Heck, I felt I deserved a little time to myself to write...and it is now my 'alone time' that my family respects (whew...I was never allowed to have my own time..now I do!). It is great to see how I think and feel...and know I can really see my own self worth much clearer!

    Good luck to you

    Oh yeah, btw my husband is a heart attack survivor and I found out that I have been frightened for now 3 years in the back of my mind! He too talks of not being here in 5-10 years, and makes me feel that way too despite telling him that is crazy! It effects my job when I know that my sweetheart could die at any time or I may not have a future, and hindered my own drive to help others...since doing my journal I finally realized it was happeneing (I hid it for so long..it was just brewing in some recess of my mind somewhere, bubbling up at times). The journal helped me to put my fears in persepective and realize I had a patients/family view of serious life threatening conditions, and could really relate to so many! That really helped me to overcome my own upsets and fears...I turned a negative into a positive! Takes time, but with the right goals...it can be achieved .
    Last edit by Antikigirl on Mar 23, '05


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