Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Tough to (not) say goodbye

One of my favorite residents died yesterday. Jenny was in her eighties, and often still fairly quick witted; she might be thinking her mother would be mad that Jenny was going to be late for dinner, but she could always come up with a quip that would surprise you and make you laugh. Jenny was the first resident at the GreatRep that I really felt was a friend of mine, and it's been painful watching her decline. Of course we all knew she was on hospice, and anyone with eyes could see how outrageous her edema (swelling due to water retention, usually just in the lower legs/feet but in extreme cases like Jenny's can go all the way up to the abdomen and eventually lungs). But Jenny had been sick for a long time, and was still her usual loving, funny self when I saw her on Friday.

This was one of those rare times when my weekend coincides with everyone else's, and I had Saturday and Sunday off.

Monday I arrived at work, and during report, the med tech let us know that Jenny had passed away about an hour before. Me and another coworker who hadn't known about this both burst into tears, and apparently everyone else had cried throughout the shift yesterday as they helped Jenny through her last hours.

We were all grateful she didn't linger too long once she was actively dying, because she was basically slowly drowning and it was very scary for her.

I miss her already. I miss my friend, and I wish I'd known how suddenly she began to die because I didn't get to say goodbye. I'm torn between wishing I had gone to say goodbye to her body before they took it, and realizing that doesn't matter because she wasn't in there anymore. Still, when we closed off the fire doors to give the people privacy to take Jenny out on the gurney, I was seized with an urge to run after them and pat her hand once more.

We were all lucky to have gotten to know Jenny, and I know she was ready to die, but it's still hard. It was hard two weeks ago when she kept asking me to kill her. It will be hard next week when a new lady moves into Jenny's room. I hope her family invites us to her service.

1 comment:

  1. This post of yours brought tears to my eyes. Thank goodness for nurses like you who really care! I know a few patients I have had that I felt the same way!