Sunday, November 6, 2016
This is how I feel so often; a small boat, which is fine as long as the seas are calm but there are always storms. There are many days when I struggle to just stay afloat. I'm not depressed now but it always lurks there, in the background, ready to strike when I'm at my most vulnerable.
External stress, lack of control in particular, rocks my boat. Work has been short staffed again. Last Monday, my first line patient of the day was a woman two years older than me with metastatic colon cancer. I asked her if her chemo had started and she said no, there was no more chemo. She was here for MAID. I had no idea what that was so I asked her. It's an acronym for medical assistance in dying. My eyes teared up and I started crying.
Her body was riddled with cancer. She was in constant pain and it was only going to get worse. She opted to end her life when the time was right for her, not when the cancer had destroyed her. I apologized to her for crying and we were able to talk. She had terrible veins. The doctor and she decided to put in a central line to ensure there were no problems on the day of her death.
I fully support a person's right to choose their time of death and to be honest I think that when people are given back that control, it can allow them to live more fully until they do decide to die. My patient died on Friday, with her friends and family beside her. She was at peace with her decision and it was not an easy decision to make she told me. She died at home, her husband beside her. A good death. It's what we all hope for.
When we don't have enough people at work it's difficult to spend time with the patients who need it but I refuse to rush some things. It is a disservice to my patients but it takes it's toll on me. This past week I decided to stop rushing. Coworkers, techs, docs, managers, they'll all have to wait because the work I do is important and I'm not going to short change my patients. They deserve better.
And this decision helped me to right my boat. The water calmed itself. The storm was self induced. I just need to remember this. I can calm myself. I can slow down. I can make a difference in the world one person at a time and that's important.
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