There is never a way to finish what we started in life- but there is a way to carry it on- through the lives of others. Make life worth living- and let it live on in others that stay here long after we're gone. We just never know where the story begins or where it ends- but all that matters is that it is carried on with a legacy of love and family.
I can close my eyes and recall that exact moment my world had stopped- the moment I heard my father had passed away. Nothing prepares you for that moment- all the times I have held an elderly resident in my arms as she rested her head on my shoulder, telling me they know their life is going to end pretty soon...no amount of nursing can quite take away that emotional attachment to your dad.
Let me move back to seven months prior to his passing. I had gotten off an hour early from work and headed to the hospital to be with my father during a routine cardiac cath- my mom, brother and I were sitting in the waiting room waiting to hear when he went in. The nurse comes up, tells us that he is "on the table" ... an hour or so passes, we continue to wait. The doctor comes out to tell us that he had 90 percent blockage in his right coronary artery, in which they had placed a stent. We go in to see him, he's laying on his back. "I'm hungry and I need to pee..." he says. He's always been this brutally honest man, the kind of person that will just tell you "how it is".
"Give me my inhaler" he says. I hand him his inhaler, and he takes two puffs. His many years of smoking had caused him to develop chronic lung disease and copd. He had quit smoking two months prior to his cardiac cath. As he gets moved to a different hospital room for recovery, my mom, brother and I are sitting in a different waiting area. Nurses are going in and out of the room, quietly but quickly. A nurse in a pink scrub set comes up to us and tells us dad is having a hard breathing... his blood pressure and heart rate are rapid and he is turning blue. She asks calmly if the rapid response team can go ahead and put a breathing tube down him. Mom and I look at each other and say yes...whatever needs to be done. ...that moment, that shocking moment will come back to haunt me many times. Did we decide the right thing? For Heaven's sake he's only 59! What is going on?
Many hours later, we are sitting in the critical care unit waiting area. This look of distress, the unknown...lays before us. The doctor comes, takes us in this small sitting area and tells us they are trying to do what they can for him. He is intubated, on a ventilator and is unable to respond due to sedation. Just a few hours ago I had seen him- laughing and joking with the nurses about where in God's great earth did they hide his food tray? And now here he is, somewhere beyond the doors of a critical care unit and no way to know what is going on until the doctor can give us a better update.
That moment, that precious moment where you sometimes tell God "what is to come? I don't want to lose my father...." comes crashing down. He ends up living, spending two days on a ventilator and all the fluid is reversed out of his lungs and he is able to walk out of the hospital- not a sign of the distress he had gone through 72 hours prior.
Fast forward to seven months- mom says she found dad passed away in his sleep at home. "Come home"... she says. Home isn't going to be the same...ever. The seven months between the hospital stay and his passing was something more than just a coincidence. It was a chance to bond, a chance to understand that life isn't in our hands- no matter how hard I can try to make someone live, as a nurse we are only the hands of angels, the rest is up to God.
Dad left us a lot of unfinished business- he left us with a legacy to finish; to see what our lives had in store for us. For us to grow up, to know that he had left this world with a story worth telling. He never wanted the story to end- he wanted my mom to know that life goes on, that she needed to finish what he started. She has since grown closer to each of us kids in her own way. Nursing isn't about saving lives as much as it is about making the quality of life better- it's about making the living worth it. Our time on this earth will come- what kind of story do we need to carry on for others?Last edit by Joe V on Jun 13, '12
About jaelpn, LPN
Joined: Dec '05; Posts: 53; Likes: 312
LPN; from US
Specialty: Skilled geriatric nursing careJun 8, '12Your dad must have been a wonderful man to instill such love and devotion. No one ever really dies if they are kept alive in the memories of those they left behind.
I have a perenial garden where I plant flowers for every person who passed away who I want to remember. Some of wonderful people I've never met but just heard their stories, others are my dear family members or friends who I lost. I'll plant a flower for your dad so it blooms with the others.Jun 8, '12My heart cries for you. Brought me right back to my father's passing as well as what a wonderful man/father he was. Thank you for opening up to us and allowing me some fond memories.