Chocolate Heart,

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    I don't even remember when I started writing or even remember when I stopped. I am writing this just to make sure I won't forget. I never intended to be a nurse,not at all but as fate would want to play it I became one. Time flies,it surely does. I have been through numerous med pass, cleansed a lot of wounds, dealt with gore (not really), literally piled up with physician order sheets. If only I could account them probably my list would stretch a mile or two. When I was a student, I had a perception that right after graduation I will be raking dollars in my backyard but to get to where I am right now, a lot of things were done, some of those I need to work hard for, some were given to me easily. Please don't get me wrong, I don't have any room for complaints. I just want to reminisce and justify that where I am now is right where I belong, and this leads me to my story.

    I was a floater for almost 2 years. I would never mind putting an old patient into a shroud bag. My perception was either way these geriatric residents of mine will join their Creator peacefully. I will always carry a poker face once a nursing assistant call me and say that Mrs.Jones or Mr.Smith just decided not to open their eyes and respond one day. I will automatically pull my not so reliable automated vital signs machine named Rosie, while I page overhead that there is a Code Blue. One will get the crash cart, I will be barking orders to get me an oxygen tank in which case one will go to other floors just to get me a face mask or a humidifier bottle. Calling a code is synonymous to getting an army. Somebody is calling 911. One is preparing the crash cart, another is prepping for CPR. The cycle goes and most of the time, our not so favorite bag will be out from central supply. Social worker comes in. I feel bad for them sometimes having to break the news to families. My tear ducts stopped working for quite sometime.For someone like me who practically cries for anything, it is very unusual not being able to cry when I am required to. I will always rationalize it. The reason why is because I was a floater.

    In a nursing home setting, making the residents feel that they are "AT HOME" is one thing I took seriously. For me, it was like adopting grandparents, trying my very best to help them. Basically, I was able to memorize each and every color of their pills, how and when they want to take them. There are times most of them are like toddlers throwing tantrums. Some of them with progressing dementia, already forgetful and with periods of confusion,sliding and falling elsewhere.

    I cried the other day while in the bathroom of one of my residents. I have to ran quick by the sink and wipe my tears because I don't want him to feel that I pity him.I saw him in a sorry state of trying to feed himself with lunch. I don't want to offend him by taking the spoon altogether and just shove the food into his mouth, with just a couple of days in the hospital,he was emaciated.His faculties were still intact, he knows that it's me his "mueca " (doll in spanish). He almost can not see anything due to his ptosis, everything he sees was double. His blood pressure without notice shoots up. He has difficulty swallowing and in a couple of days I know his swallowing reflex will be absent. He keeps on saying "TE QUIERO.." Knowing him, he will never give into having a feeding tube to sustain him hence his advance directives.In my broken Spanish, I was trying to communicate to him that he should never stand up by himself, try to call someone if he needs to go to the bathroom because he might break a hip. I know at that time he was not receptive to that. Sooner, he will be more depress and will be wishing that He be taken away instead. I am positive that I responded and said "TE QUIERO" too.
    He was my Captain, he stands tall with his hearty laughs and becomes upset when he doesn't have a Lactaid milk in his tray.He always go to his room after lunch, taking a nap while listening to classical music. He was the one who gives me two pieces of Hershey's nuggets in exchange for the three pills he was getting during the morning. I bid him goodbye that afternoon and told him I will visit him the next day. Before I went, he struggled his way back to his wheelchair and went to his ref. He pulled out something and opened a bag of Hershey's Nuggets, I told him to give me just two pieces only because he's making me "gordo" (spanish word for fat) already and he can just give me the next day when I visit him again. It was a Thursday and I know somehow that he is soon going back to the hospital or worse he might be in that dreaded bag instead.

    Last night, I received a call, it was my friend and workmate, she wants to give me a bag of chocolates from a patient.It was from him. He said to give it to "PEANUT". I can't help it but I started to cry again. Maybe it was him saying goodbye already.Maybe he wants to leave a piece of him so I could not just forget his face like the many other wrinkled faces in the nursing home. And maybe he was sending a message that to eat chocolates I will be able to last the entire day with something to smile about.

    I never had the chance to know who he really was. I just wanted to remember him as the Captain I always salute to, the one who must be in so much pain but still manage to say "I'm good." when ever I ask even if it's obvious that he is not. He was ambulatory the other day and can not even open his eyes the next, a constant reminder of how life always takes us by surprise.

    Most veteran nurses will advice a neophyte like me to play in the grounds of the hospital, to acquire more clinical skills and learn what nursing is all about. It might be suggestive of saying you could rake more dollars out there. But none the less, I think my heart desires to settle here right now,

    ...with the elderly with hearts that never grow old.
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    About deacon0920

    Joined: Dec '09; Posts: 2; Likes: 20
    MDS Coordinator,Staff Nurse; from US
    Specialty: 5 year(s) of experience in Geriatric

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  3. by   camoflower
    Muy bonita! gracious...nice story la chica. Gordo how funny..aren't we all? (I sigh) I work on a hectic floor and hold it together during times where I know too well the signs of the grim reaper and a host of angels waiting outside hospital doors. I smile when I think of Mr. __ , who's arms and legs were ice cold, the sound of a death rattle was unnerving to me coming from his windpipe, the Dr. left..assuring me he wasn't in pain..the embarrassment minutes later when I caught him..He was old, but not dead, he was checking out housekeepings swaying bottom as she mopped his floor ...she knew he was checking her out and was laughing and putting on a show as she flowed out the door. I laughted and...I said to him "watch out now" he smiled. Minutes later he was argueing with an invisible person at the foot of his bed, I asked him "Mr.__who are you talking to??" He just rolled his eyes like I ain't agreeing with that person.....I and a CSA just rolled our eyes because he did not say who it was.......and within an hour he was gone. As, I cried, expecting family members to turned to shock as...his family wanted a copy of his death certificate to get to the courthouse - they never came to say goodbye. Its been months and I still think of him often. I hope when its my turn to take up the offer, from someone not of this world at the foot of my bed, and perhaps argue with someone who won't refuse to let me stay in my hospital bed...Mr. __ will be smiling and waiting to greet me with a heavenly host of patients past...where we are promised no tears, no pain, no suffering. God Bless you ...and hand over the chocolate please.
  4. by   csw5048
    The article brings back memories of my nursing home days. I worked them for many years before I got my RN. I also cried many times.... but there were a lot more smiles! I loved (and still do) the older population. While I love my job now in public health, I do miss the elderly patients. Keep doing what you love, life is to short not too! Merry Christmas and God Bless.
  5. by   nursemillie
    I agree with you about staying where you are happy. I work where I do because of the feeling I have when I go home and know I did good that day. I hate it when nurses say "you are losing your skills." I have skills that they will never learn in a hospital and memories I will never forget in my lifetime. The next time you hear someone say you are "losing your skills" or you say it to another nurse, think about it. We are all nurses but the skills we choose to hold onto are the skills that we need the most.
  6. by   CountyRat
    It sounds like you are exactly where you are suposed to be.

    Stay strong, and have a happy holiday.
  7. by   Klynne
    Thanks for sharing..
    your article makes me cry..
    May God bless the works of your hands..
    Do what makes you happy and everything for the glory of God!
    Keep touching lives
  8. by   mattny
    Great personal experience, Thanks!
  9. by   presey
    I have worked in ltc and home health for the past 16 years, and its magical for me, ty for the post!
  10. by   ntgale08
    Thank you for sharing your story..... you made me cry. It reminds me of the residents I left behind when I resigned last month. I care for them so much that I had to leave because I could not handle well more than 60 of them in my shift.... I'll be risking their safety. I hope they are in better hands.
  11. by   chacomom
    Thank you for this post. You make me proud that You feel such compassion for your residents. That is the last home many of them will have, and to those whose lives you have touched,you give the gift of yourself.

    While working at a VA hospital doing cardiology research, I was touched by a patient named Tony. He had a massive heart attack and should have died. He had a quiet grace about him I will never forget. He was an old cowboy and Polish(as am I). He had a round happy wife he adored.He did eventually die in peace. He taught me the meaning of grace.
  12. by   dawnsternlpn
    you have me in tears please keep doing what you do ...choclate heart --aka heart of goldcrying2:heartbeatheartbeatheartbeatheartbeatheartbeatheartbeatheartbeatheartbeat
  13. by   deacon0920
    thank you everyone for your comments. the captain joined His Creator on a sunny Monday morning after the weekend he gave me the chocolates. i will never forget this experience of is truly a blessing to do what i am doing right now.
  14. by   fiery_ai
    Your article made me cry.

    Thank you so much. Another reason why I love being a nurse.