Thursday, February 13, 2014

My 1st blog was really my third.  I am posting the 1st two.


I have several things on my mind today. I hope no one minds if I post some of my random thoughts this morning.

As a certified hospice & palliative care nurse now diagnosed with a terminal illness, I am more grateful than ever to have been privileged for many years to have served those on their journey who have finished what they were put here on earth to do. I have learned so much from those warriors. I am now experiencing what many who have gone before me have in the past.
I believe that my hospice experiences have allowed me to come to the acceptance stage as a smooth transition from the original thought of “Oh, my God, this can't be” to the thought that “It is what it is, and that is all that it is”. When one knows they are facing death, a whole new perspective of living comes into view. While I still have strong thoughts that my task here on earth has not been completed, I am more than grateful that I am still alive and enabled to continue whatever that is. And then a thought creeps in that if I haven't finished my job here, then I can't die. Quickly though, another thought comes upon me stating that maybe I will just die before I know what else I am supposed to do. I can't let that happen, I tell myself, so I do some serious soul searching. What is it that I still must do. Time is running out and this puzzle must be solved. Do I still have lessons to learn? Do I still have wisdom to depart to others? If so, what is it and who are they? I think the answers are beginning to come. I must be still and listen to what the Universe is telling me. What is my path now?
Being a hospice nurse has been 'my heart'. I have known that for forever it seems. When I started my nursing career I worked in Critical Care. It was there that my penchant for helping those that were not going to make it and their families needed me. Elizabeth Kubler Ross was my mentor. She taught me to talk openly and honestly, giving hope yet not false hope was how to do it. Allow open expression from those in my care. I have practiced this through out my many years, both professionally and personally.
Having had made many choices in my life, some good and some not so good, they were all learning experiences. Looking at the negative ones I am able to see much of the good that has come from them. They have taught me so much. The main theme is that much positive comes from negative. One merely has to see the other side of them. Sometimes it was difficult for me to do this and so I didn't learn what I should have. Therefore, as I like to say, I had to repeat the class until I finally was able to pass that course! But I digress.
Back to death & dying. My hope is that I have taught many others to have an open discussion re this subject. Even singly, we all can make a difference. This is a difficult topic for many to face honestly. I have given it 'a good go' as they say. Some have found solace in what I have had to say, and others, I'm sure, will ponder my words down the road and then find their peace. I have never pushed anything on anyone. I accepted where they were on the trajectory and started from there. This has been most difficult to do with my own family. As any mother will tell you, we want our children to be quick learners and be at the top of their class. Even when we are dealing with such a delicate, difficult subject such as the death of their mother or their aunt or their cousin, sister, close friend, etc.. I have done my best to treat this subject with all as light and as bright as I could make it. My goal has been for all to see the joy of being on this journey with me. And make no mistake about it, it has been joyful most of time. They have been learning some really tough lessons which will hold them in good stead through out the rest of their lives. I am so very proud to have had something to do with them learning these lessons on their individual paths and to have led them in the direction of who they have become as caring, compassionate, loving, human beings and cognizant of the needs of others.
The hard parts of this journey? Well, it has not been the hair loss! I now can take a three minute shower, it takes no time at all to dry my head. I do not have to fuss and claim any bad hair days, I save money on the electric bill not using a hair blower or curling iron. I'm sure you get the point. The chemo? Whatever pain I've had has come after receiving this. I have pictured the pain (notice I did not say, 'my pain') as the good cells and the bad cells in battle. My good cells always win and the battle ceases after a week of fighting.
I have been enormously blessed to have a most wonderful grandson, Ryan, who has moved in with me and is my primary care giver. He moved to Alaska from Florida to help me when I broke my leg and then back here to Pittsburgh where I have marvelous relatives/friends (and guardian angels) to help if anything else happened to me. Well, lo and behold I have was diagnosed with ovarian cancer and here is Ryan at the forefront once again! I am so proud of the young adult he has become. He now does the cooking, cleaning, shopping, laundry, and anything else that needs done as well as working full time! Although he is scared and emotionally exhausted at times, he is learning to cope with all adversity in a most positive way. He is my sounding board.
I would like to mention that when one is aware of their own demise, they become concerned about what legacy they will be leaving for posterity. I have found this to be true with my patients and now with myself. I hope and pray that I have had a positive influence on all with whom I have had cross my path or whose path I have crossed. Everyone is where they are for a reason. If we thought at the time that these engagements were negative, I hope we learned the lessons that were brought by them.
I say now, “Fasten your seat belts everyone, you're in for the ride of your life”! More to come!

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