If a person is a nurse, which I am by profession, it is almost impossible to avoid having to make decisions for people. At the very least one has to know when to influence people to make a decision for themselves that is best for them. Sometimes the decisions are about life or death and the responsibility can be scary and somewhat overwhelming. It just comes with the job. When I walk out the door on my way to work I am most always in a prayerful mode, asking God for the patience to make it through the day and the smarts to know what I am seeing when I look at my clients. It’s been one of those scary weeks and I am thankful that my prayers are heard and answered.
My newest elderly client (and friend) has been out of rehab and at home for almost three weeks. He came home far too soon and needed a lot more help than any of us knew he would need, but we had hopes that his strength would increase and he would thrive. He was so overjoyed to be in his own house and out of the hospital. I was leaving to visit my parents a few days after he came home, but we managed to get a crew together to be with him almost 24 hours a day. There were ups and downs as everyone settled into routines. I returned from my time away and began helping with Jack’s care again.
And then this week, there came the morning that he was so short of breath that sitting up on the side of the bed required a rest period. Trying to get into the car for a doctor appointment was so difficult that we decided to cancel it. And his own admission that he didn’t feel well and just wanted to lie down finally tipped the balance for me. Something was wrong and not getting better. This was the first time I have ever called 911. It was a good decision. We were in the ER for the next six hours and he was finally admitted to the hospital with congestive heart failure.
There are four of us caretakers for Jack and we are still keeping vigil. He was moved to the cardiac ICU yesterday. Jack remains uncomplaining, always worrying about whether we have eaten, always trying to send us home to rest and wondering if we’re taken care of. We have hopes that he will improve and come home again, but there is an awareness of how fragile life is, how quickly things can change and how precious the time is that we have with each other. I’m just saying that vigils can be a bit stressful…