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Feeling Essential

This blog is dedicated to my good friend Christine. I was given permission to use her, and her mother’s names.

In my years working as a hospice nurse, I, of course, had my “favorite” patients from time to time.

One of them I fell in love with the moment I saw her. I walked into her room, she turned toward me and smiled at me with the biggest smile! Harriet rarely spoke. Her disease robbed her of the ability to speak all but one or two words. I felt however that she spoke volumes with her smile and with her eyes. Her daughter Christine thought that I must have reminded Harriet of someone because she smiled every time she saw me. For me it was such a blessing! Here was a beautiful, older woman, with a gorgeous smile and gorgeous eyes, pouring out love for me.

A little over a year ago I went from being a full-time RN case manager and became a part-time “as needed” nurse, when it became apparent that my own mom needed regular caregiving due to her health problems. Harriet was no longer “my” patient. I was fortunate to still be assigned to her from time to time and was great to still see both her and Christine.

Soon Harriet began to decline, and on July 17th of last year, she died. I was so thankful that I was working and was able to go over to the nursing facility and see her one last time. Harriet passed peacefully from this life to the next and Christine helped usher her mom into heaven.

Since that time the caregiving for my mom has become more intense and I was working less and less. Finally, I left hospice altogether the end of January. I continued to work my business, Enfermera (eldercare management), but then COVID-19 hit! I cannot not see my patients or my mom as she is in lockdown in assisted living. Everything is done via phone or Zoom.

How do we know our loved ones are doing ok without seeing them? How does a nurse or doctor “assess” over the phone or by computer? I’ve come to rely on the facility nurses more than in the past. I’m sure my mom is tired of my questions about how are you feeling, what’s your weight today, are you short of breath when you walk? I really have to rely on my critical assessment skills now more than ever!

Working for 45 years as a nurse and now not working has been a shock to my system. I am a nurse. It’s my identity. Where does that leave me? Yesterday, May 6th, was the start of National Nurses Week. I had a hard day. No longer have I felt “essential.” Then the doorbell rang. I check and see a package on my porch and Christine getting into her car. She blew me a kiss and thanked me for taking care of her mom.

Christine made me an “Essential” box with essential oils and a beautiful bar of soap she had made. I cried. Christine made me feel “essential.”

The final affirmation came when I opened up my Bible and it fell to Psalm 16:6,

“The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; surely I have a delightful inheritance.”

I felt peace!

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