Wednesday, February 29, 2012

"Don't get attached.  Burn out is high working this position."

"Yeah, sure, whatever," I thought to myself.  I worked with hospice patients for nearly 4 years, I can certainly handle this.

Or can I? 

The first few months was super easy.  I talked to patients all day long, saw them come to clinic every day, and yet I didn't know who was who and who had what.  It was all pretty much a blur.

But now, here I am, about 3 months in, and I am building relationships.  The title "patient" is transforming into "Mrs. ____."  I watch people be diagnosed.  I teach them what to expect during surgery.  I give them encouragement, support, and plenty of reinforcements leading up to surgery.  After surgery, I call them to see how they are doing.  I adjust their medication regimen to make sure they are comfortable.  All the things a nurse does.

But then I get the patient that completes her chemo regimen and gets word that there is disease progression.  Or the patient who was diagnosed with uterine cancer, but the CT scan picked up lesions on her lungs.  Treatment is done for her and she is now hospice.

We had TEN deaths in the last 2 weeks.  Ten.  Ten women who were all around the age of 50.  Ten women who had families that were clinging for the chance that they would be cured.

When a woman comes in and is diagnosed, her life expectancy is about 5 years.  Yes, some of the cancers are treated and we get the GREAT pleasure of referring them back to a regular gynecologist.  But this is not the norm.  The norm is watching these women fight for their lives.  They fight until the absolute end, enduring months of chemo and surgery complications.  Months of agonizing pain, nausea, and weakness that is so debilitating they can hardly function.

Someone today tried to "educate" me on vaccines and routine screening.  According to her, vaccines are equal to poison, mammograms CAUSE cancer due to radiation, and chemotherapy is asinine, due to it's degree of toxicity.  This person also claimed that cartons of milk should have a skull and crossbones on it because it is so toxic.  This person's solution?  Everyone needs to own their own cow.  Not even kidding.  I know that last part is COMPLETELY irrelevant, but I just had to share it.

I get the risks of vaccinations.  I get the complications and the rare instances that they cause damage.  Trust me.  I work in the medical field.  I GET IT.  But until you see someone endure the fight of their life, your thoughts on this become tainted.  I know what is in the vaccines I have injected into my children's bodies.  I know the risks of using antibiotics.  I know that too much radiation can cause harm.  But I also know that I will take that small risk over the alternative.

Don't get attached?  Not a chance.

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