Monday, June 04, 2007

get hung up feed the ducks with a bun

I found it easier to come home and blog when all I had to work with was a mundane subway ride home. When my days are packed with everything from joy to tragedy, it's a little paralyzing. As I was typing that a line from the old song Itchycoo Park [which I love] jumped into my head.

'It's all too beautiful...'.

Except some of it's really horrible. Even the most horrific of circumstances has an element of beauty to it. Still it's excessive, even for the seasoned professional. They say the bad stuff comes in threes, but this week has me asking, how many sets of three?

I don't know...example? The other day, I was involved with my first bereavement; taking care of a dead infant. Part of this kind of care is to take photographs and hand and foot prints and then transport the body to the morgue. It was a difficult thing to do, no question, especially after getting to know the family so well. It's also uncomfortable and frightening. Maybe that part gets easier. I imagine it will, down the road, but still... To make matters worse, as I was transporting the patient to the morgue, I passed another patient of mine in the hall, walking with a visitor. Keep in mind the transport container is well disguised so they had no idea what I was carrying. As I got up close I realized this visitor was a guy I went on a blind date with about six months ago and had never called back. He recognized me right away and I said hi but kept on walking. I was afraid he would confront me in the hall or that I'd have to talk to him with the package heavy in my hand. I didn't want to be going to the morgue and I couldn't get the image of the photographs and the tiny hands and the feet out of my mind and all I could think was, 'please don't stop me, please don't recognize me'. I felt like I might implode.

And that's just one little moment of many. Sometimes it's too much to even put into words so I'm being vague. And it's too much to call a friend and talk about. Trust me, no one wants to hear.

I forgot what it was like to be forever haunted by this kind of stuff and not know where to put it. I guess I wait until it's a little less raw and then write it out in some way.

So thats part of why I haven't been posting. I've been writing, but just in no form that I can leave it with you.


Lx said...

what i don't get is this:
the people who decide to do this
for a living, to go on,
harden themselves up,
start filing things away,
which is absolutely understandable;
years go by and they become
it's not fair to their patients,
people who are in dire need of
compassion and empathy and kindness;
it's unfair for them to get
an RN who has become almost
numb from protecting herself/himself
from the horrors of the job.

i hope/wish you will post on
how , maybe, you're trying to balance that.
because i totally understand shutting oneself down after seeing and dealing with the "usual" in this field,
but how fair is that to other, living patients?

what do you think?

Rachel said...

I agree with you, only I've never been able to do that...become desensitized. Maybe that's why I've become so overwhelmed with the work in the past that haven't been able to stay.

There are those who harden up, no question, but I've been around a lot of seasoned nurses who still provide sensitive care, who still have the capacity for empathy. I hope I am one of those for as long as I work with people. If that goes, I will too.

I hope I only get used to being a part of these kinds of situations to the extent that I don't have to be so focused on the fear and instead can focus all of my energy on doing the best I can for the family.

momentofchoice said...

i'm sorry you had to go through this, and that you will have to go through it again.

what was frightening about it, to you?

Rachel said...

I think what's frightening is the unknown. I was more scared at the 'idea' of going to the morgue. The 'idea' of picking up an infant, especially the first time, unwrapping, seeing and handling a dead baby, talking to the family, worrying if I would say the wrong thing or that I might cry.

When I actually DID those things I realized, as so often is the case, the anticipation was worse than the the reality.

T, I think you should start a blog. I would really like to read more about what you have to say!

Lx said...

the anticipation of death
is worse than death.

momentofchoice said...

oh i don't have anything to say. i just have a lot of questions. :)