Archive for Nurses

Medications Near Midnight

 

different meds

The nurse arrived in my mother’s dimly lit hospital room.

Near midnight, even his soft voice seemed loud. One of the first things he said was, “This won’t hurt.”

He lied. This was in 2013. Seven years after her death, I still remember his false assurances.

The nurse was there to place a peripherally inserted central catheter (PICC, or “pick”) into Mom’s upper right arm. My mother been offered Dilaudid—a brand name for hydromorphone, a narcotic comparable to morphine—for pain management. The medication would be housed in a CADD pump (Computerized Ambulatory Drug Delivery) connected to her PICC line. The linked pump and the catheter would give a predetermined, regular amount of medication to ease her physical agony. A “button” could be pressed on the CADD pump for additional dosages.

Are your eyes glazing over with all the medicalese?

Mom’s body was riddled with cancer and the two surgeries undertaken for “comfort” had added complications. As I calmly write this years after her death, I understand why she said “Yes” to that PICC line: she wanted the wrenching pain to end and she was ready to die.

But the nurse, who seemed rightly weary in the near midnight hour when he entered Mom’s room, first caused more pain. Read More →

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When Death is Bad and Memories are Worse

Photos

I saw that picture of my mother and it jarred me . . .

Hospice agency web pages and pamphlets don’t highlight traumatic or difficult deaths.

While these unfortunate deaths do occur, they are infrequent. (But they won’t feel infrequent if you experience it.)

After the death, how do grievers start healing from those memories? The images of the final days (or more) include triggers for all the senses. Often, it’s not only a “mental picture” a griever recalls. There are smells, tastes, feels, and sounds that abruptly surface. And with certain deaths, it is not being there that fuels the disruptive recollections. Absence can be as tormenting as presence.

My mother died in 2013.

Like many others, I was reviewing pictures of Mom to post comments about her birthday on social media. Maybe an old black-and-white snapshot? Maybe one with just Mom and me? Maybe a collage of photos depicting various decades? While searching, I double-clicked on a tiny image in my computer’s photo file. Mom’s final hospital bed filled my screen. Read More →

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The Hospice Doctor Didn’t Mean Mac & Cheese

Mac & Cheese

Food is not a humorous subject with hospice patients and their families . . .

When the hospice medical director reminded the patient’s nurse to get a mac, my stomach grumbled.

The nurse nodded. There seemed to be an immediate, unspoken agreement.

A mac? What did the doctor mean? They couldn’t mean a Macintosh computer from Apple, could they? That didn’t make sense. But thoughts of digital apples made me think about real food: had they meant Mac & Cheese? While I’m not a fan of the packaged pasta and cheese, it is one of my wife’s favorite comfort foods.

My food wondering continued. What about a Big Mac? Could the doctor have been recommending a fast food burger? (When younger, I loved McDonald’s flagship burger. The Big Mac debuted, with fanfare and a high calorie count, around the time I started college. If I could scrounge a few extra quarters, I’d always go for the extra all-beef patty and special sauce!)

But we hospice professionals couldn’t have been talking meal deals . . . right? Read More →

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