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Saturday, August 28, 2010

Fired But Not Forgotten


The New Nurse was fired by one of her patient’s caregivers! Her feelings are hurt, but she is coping well.

Here’s the short version: Her patient is 103 years old and is rotting from the feet up. A diabetic for life, she has dry gangrene in both feet and ulcers on her lower legs. She has lost two toes; they just fall off when her dressings are changed. Dressing changes are agony for her and after the New Nurse changed her dressings last Friday, she visited on Monday to see how things were going. The dressings looked good, dry with a few spots of exudate that had not penetrated the outer dressings.

“The dressings held up well over the weekend! They certainly can wait a few days for a change, especially since it it so hard on her when we change them, but if you get worried, call me. We know these wounds will not heal, and our hope is that we can stop them from getting any worse, and I hesitate to put her through a dressing change that isn’t necessary. Here’s my work cell. Let me know if you need a visit before Thursday.”

The New Nurse led the caregiver in a short prayer for the patient to be delivered of her pain and for all of those who care for her to be blessed with healing hands. She departed feeling calmed by the prayer and happy not to have caused any pain for her patient.


There was a visitor present during the visit, one the New Nurse had never met before, and this is what he heard. “She’s not going to get any better, so what’s the use?” After the New Nurse's departure, he whipped the caregiver into a lather, demanding that she "do something."

Perception is always more powerful than truth, and she called the New Nurse’s boss and complained that the she had shrugged off her aunt’s needs, dismissed her as not worth the trouble.

The New Nurse’s boss soothed the caregiver and assigned her another nurse. Then she called in the New Nurse and told her the news. Tears welled in the New Nurse’s eyes, but she blinked them back. Never cry in the presence of the boss, especially one who is already riding you as though you were wearing a saddle.

In Hospice home care, the week flies by. Time is filled with meetings in the office, scheduling of patients and then, and best of all, the patient visits. They involve driving time and time spent doing hands-on care. The New Nurse nurtures the families and well as the patients, and she often lingers when families appear to need support and encouragement. It is not a 40 hours a week job for her. She rarely stops for lunch, but she is docked for the time - company policy.

She was hired to do part time field work until the new inpatient facility opens, but her boss is working her full time and ragging her ass about overtime. Her boss is a bitch, but she is only trying to do her job. The New Nurse imagines that her boss is being pressured from above to keep costs down.

(Wonderful, isn’t it, that caring for the sick and dying is just as bottom-line driven as the layoffs at Wal Mart)?

Thursday rolled around, and the New Nurse was caring for another elderly woman, this one in her 90’s, when her cell phone rang. She ignored the call, not recognizing the number, but returned it when she was finished with her visit.

“Hi, this is the New Nurse, and I missed your call because I was with a patient. What can I do for you?”

“Oh, New Nurse, this is Mary.* You know, we had prayer when you visited my Auntie on Monday. Where have your been?”

“Mary, sweet Mary, when you called my boss she took me off your case and assigned you another nurse. How are things going?”

“She’s okay, but she can’t pray like you. I didn’t mean to get you in trouble. I’m sorry we lost you. I was upset and didn’t really understand.”

“How about this, Miss Mary. How about I call you every few days and we can pray over the phone?”

“Can’t you come by and visit?”

“I’m so sorry, Mary, but I am forbidden to visit any more. I will call you, though, and we will visit and pray together. Here is a prayer I know by heart. It’s called St. Teresa’s Prayer. Close your eyes and listen.”

May today there be peace within.

May you trust God that you are exactly where you are meant to be.

May you not forget the infinite possibilities that are born of faith.

May you use those gifts that you have received, and pass on the love that has been given to you.

May you be content knowing you are a child of God.

Let this presence settle into your bones, and allow your soul the freedom to sing, dance, praise and love.

It is there for each and every one of us.

(And they said our “good-byes” and hung up).


Sue said...

I love this. I can't help but be glad they realized what they had lost in you.

But I am sorry for them, and pleased but not surprised at your generosity in offering to nurture them through prayer over the phone.

You are one good hospice nurse, lady!


Linda @ A La Carte said...

Perceptions are everything! Great story.