It's been years since I've posted anything here. My dad died 3 years ago and you all were with me every step of the way. But now I find myself in a unique and uncomfortable situation professionally. I've discussed this with my nursing supervisor and a colleague but I can't get this out of my head.
I work in hospice. Over a year ago I started with a client, Maria. I was with her throughout her entire journey. At one point she came up for recertification and we made the decision that it was appropriate to recertify her.
I became quite close with the family. Maria's adult children were very involved in her life, they always wanted to know exactly what was going on, and they never hesitated to call my service with any questions or concerns. They weren't comfortable administering care to their mom, which is completely fine, so I did a lot of hands on work with Maria. After a year it was obvious that it was nearing the end. I gave one of the adult children my personal cell number and I trusted her not to abuse it and she didn't. Not once. I tell you this to illustrate the bond I formed with the family. I've been close with other families in my career but there was something about this family.
At the beginning of February I went to the house and assessed Maria's condition. I told the family that she would pass away very soon. Hours, maybe a day. I sat by Maria this day. I stroked her forehead and talked quietly to her. She wasn't conscious. The family floated in and out but I stayed at the bedside. Maria died that afternoon while I was with her.
Hours later it was time for me to go. There were hugs all around and I felt a personal loss as well. I know how to distance myself from my patients but as I said this family got into my heart a bit.
Maria's husband of 60 years survived her and he was on hospice as well although I didn't work with him as much. I liked him, he was a character but after Maria died my work assignments took me elsewhere. However, 6 weeks after Maria died I stopped in to see the family and I saw that the husband, Ron, seemed to be doing well. It was good to see everyone. I stayed for 15 minutes then went on my way.
A few weeks ago we were informed that Ron had taken a turn for the worse. I ask to be reassigned to their case. I was shocked at how quickly Ron had declined. And he declined a little everyday. Even during a shift he would decline. He'd go downhill between noon and 8pm. But the family was relieved that I was back and I was happy to be back and to be caring for Ron. As he got worse the adult daughter texted me a few times in a panic. I went in early a few times, picked up an extra shift, and spent a lot of time with them. More than I did with my other patients.
Yesterday (Monday) Ron wasn't conscious. He had had colon cancer that our Dr. thinks metastasized to his lung. The last time Ray had had an xray (over a year ago) there was a spot on his lung but he wanted to go home, be with his wife, and let nature take its course. Over the last 10 days he's had a lot of pain. He went from refusing narcotic pain meds to asking for them. So Ron had morphine yesterday at noon and again at 4pm.
Throughout the day I kept an eye on his vitals. I read the bible to him. I held his hand. I kept his mouth moist and medicated him to relieve the secretions in his throat. I stepped away from the bedside to speak with the family. They were wanting a caregiver overnight so I helped my office set up around-the-clock care for the next day or so. When I returned to Ron's room he was dying. I closed the door and felt for his pulse. I caught the last few beats of his pulse and then he was dead.
Once again, there were procedures to observe. Many tasks to complete. The family continued to comment on how grateful they were that I had been there. First with their mom then, 3 months later, with their dad. We spoke about how things don't happen by accident, that I began my work with then way back over a year ago and stayed with them till the very end. Actually, the family was saying these things, I was just numb.
What are the odds that I would physically be with Maria the day she died and 4 months later, be there when her husband died? The coincidence was not lost on my office and they were very concerned about me. They gave me 4 days off and encouraged me to call if I needed to talk. My company is great like that.
But it's not sitting well with me. I'm uncomfortable. What does it mean, if anything? Me, this family, their parents who both died with me at the bedside? I almost feel guilty. My nursing supervisor said that since I had been with the family so much for the past 5 days it was likely that he would die while I was there but it seems so much more in my mind. I can't stop ruminating over it. My boss has never had this happen with anyone before. Husband and wife die 4 months apart and the same nurse is with them both at the time of death??