Learning to Live Again

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    Story of a nurse who learns how short life can be and a man who learns how to appreciate what he has had. Sometimes it takes the worst in life for us to appreciate the best life has to offer. Here is the story of one patient who will forever remain with me.

    Jeff is 51 years old and has pretty aggressive thyroid cancer. He had been staying with us for several weeks until he was able to get his feet back on the ground and be discharged. He has a tracheostomy, is legally blind, and is the nicest person I have ever met.

    He was independent and before he got sick and was a very active guy; ran marathons, rode his bike, walked to work, traveled. I spent weeks teaching him how to take care of his own trach in hopes of discharge in the near future, so I had really gotten to spend a lot of time with him.

    I am so amazed at how this man who cannot see anything can take care of his trach (something that took me, an able seeing person, months to be comfortable with).

    One morning I went in to help him get ready to do trach care and we started to talk about how, although he is not sure of his prognosis, he is okay with whatever happens. He jokingly said he didn't want to sound like my father but started to tell me you really have to live with no regrets.

    He said he is hopeful that everything will turn out for the best but if it doesn't he doesn't have any regrets about his life. He said he was able to do most things he wanted to do. He only learned to live like this after he had a near-death experience years ago.

    I know it sounds clique but you really have to learn to live like it's the end. Here is this man who thought he would have his whole life ahead of him, no one ever thinks at 51 they are going to be stuck in a hospital fighting aggressive cancer, and then just like that one day his world stops and he is fighting for his life.

    I just wanted to remind us that no one is promised tomorrow.

    Although we are all young and think we have our lives ahead of us... the time is now if you want to do something because who knows what is in our futures. We have no idea what tomorrow brings. I am so glad that I was given the opportunity to meet this man and get to known him. Although the time may have been short, I learned so much for him. Sometimes it takes seeing the worse life has to appreciate the best life can offer. I hope everyone can take a piece of what this man's journey has given me and bring it to their own life.

    Don't wait until tomorrow to do what you've always dreamed of because, tomorrow is not always promised.
    Last edit by Joe V on Jan 11, '15
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    About nicoleanneRN

    I am a 23 year-old first time RN who works at a skilled nursing facility as a charge nurse on a busy respiratory unit. I love everything about being a nurse and hope that I can touch lives just as much as lives have touched me.

    Joined: Nov '11; Posts: 25; Likes: 26
    Registered Nurse; from US

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  3. by   DSkelton711
    Very true. As nurses we have the advantage of seeing how life can change, sometimes for better, often for worse. We also get to see how people handle these changes and see bravery in many and give pause as to how we compare. Each moment has the potential to be the last, so we need to live life fully at every chance. I hope that if I should ever have to face a terminal illness, I can be as positive as I can, knowing I have lived life to the best of my ability. Thanks for sharing.
  4. by   cienurse
    Sometimes it takes this kind of reality check to make us wake up and realize that life is a precious gift not to be taken lightly. Thank you for this inspiring story and for the work you do every day in the skilled nursing facility-we need more nurses like you!!
  5. by   hanasea
    Thank you for reminding us of a important thing.
  6. by   Kelly0314
    This is very touching.
  7. by   cool_nurse
    indeed, very nice and touching article. i love it. =)