Bedtime for most people would mean crawling into a comfortable bed to sleep throughout the night; but not for a Palliative Home-Care Nurse.
The majority of my patients were suffering through the end stages of their lives. These tender, very ill souls had chosen to spend their last days in their homes with loved ones, but some were alone.
My job was to come to the home to care for my very ill patient throughout the night while family members were sleeping. Providing all the necessities they needed was the task, whether it might be friendly conversation, listening to a poem or story read.
Comforting personal care, required medications along with just a needed pillow adjustment was always the normal evening.
The courageous, yet disparaging family members present in the home also needed comfort and a great amount of understanding at this sad, sad time.
The house would be very quiet as family members slept. Along with silence, the house would be dark in most rooms so that residents could sleep causing such a challenge for all of us. Just the slightest noise could be an irritant. One step or a door closing could cause a squeak or a groan.
Often an evening at the bedside of the palliative patient meant having the most amazing conversation with this person who was not going to be with us much longer and now that I am retired and look back, I realize just what a gift this was for me.
The strength of a dying person is truly amazing!
In my memory very few showed fear or desperation but only peace. Certainly they were afraid, as we all would be, but they faced their journey with courage.
There are many people out there working throughout the night doing amazing jobs and I for one salute you!
It is not easy but I hope it is as rewarding as the job I and many other nurses have been trained to do.
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