There’s not a day that goes by my body doesn’t remind me of the fact that we don’t live forever. Sometimes I hurt from head to toe.
Come to think of it, most mornings I hurt from head to toe.
I’m an empty nester, looking forward to hopefully retiring one day (with dreams of becoming top sales associate at the Vera Bradley store! 😉 This year on the tippy top of my priority list was seeing a financial advisor to find out if retirement is even a word that should be in my vocabulary. And then I made some changes to my will, my trust, etc. That involved documents regarding what my end-of-life wishes are.
Yeah, that always brings up some crazy conversations.
Fortunately, they are conversations I’m used to having – but mostly with the family members of my patients. I see what they go through. I hear them discussing, trying to come to an agreement as to what Jo-Jo might have wanted if he should ever become incapacitated. People with completely different spiritual belief systems making decisions for loved ones. Others trying to keep them alive because caring for them provides employment, and a monthly check. Still others waiting on a miracle – cuz their great grandfather will be the first person ever to live past 120. Cuz they claimed it. And deserve it. (Sheesh, nobody deserves that. Please don’t make me live that long. I’ll haunt you.)
I’m an ICU nurse. Name a crazy family / code status / dysfunctional relationship / end of life scenario – I’ve seen it, been in the middle of it, sat through lengthy ethics meetings discussing it, gone home sick about it, and lost sleep over it…… I watch people tormented with guilt, fear, sadness, and regret. It does NOT have to be this way.
I want to make sure that doesn’t happen to me. So I’m having the discussions, I’m getting the paperwork together, and I’m making my wishes known. This doesn’t mean I’m depressed. It doesn’t mean Im suicidal. It means I’m a nurse whose “probable” PTSD from some of the day-in-and-day-out scenarios I have to witness (and participate in), is being responsible to do the leg work of making sure WHEN it happens, I’ve made it real, real clear – Do THIS, but DO NOT do THIS! Or I will HAUNT you! (Just kidding. I won’t do that.)
Please don’t look down your nose at the nurse and accuse the staff of not caring appropriately for me, ESPECIALLY if we’re talking about the unit that I WORK ON. They are the most professional, caring, intensely dedicated PEOPLE I know. (If you’re an ICU nurse, I’m guessing your peeps are the same!)
Please do not ask the nurses and physicians to hold pain medicine from me because you want me to be awake when you are there to visit me. (There might be a big garden-hose-sized tube down my trachea, holding my mouth open for days and days and days, and it hurts. Really bad.) It’s not about you. It’s about me. Fentanyl – Please and thank you.
Oh, also I don’t want any of the other tubes, hoses, needles, or apparatuses attached to me. I won’t go into any detail about those. Most people leave the room if God forbid they have to see them anyways.
And I don’t want someone else repositioning me every two hours of my life. THIS IS NOT LIFE!!!!!
Put me in my flannel pajamas (no bra please – I’ll haunt you for that one too!) and call it a day! Throw a party! I have lived – truly lived! And, I am certain of where I am going.
I might even send in a suggestion to Facebook and all other forms of social media asking that they place a “CODE STATUS” right above “RELATIONSHIP STATUS.” I mean – it does seem as though what we write on social media is taken more seriously than a legal document!
Have the talk with your loved ones. And choose someone you love and trust to honor YOUR wishes, and make decisions you would have made. And until then……
Don’t waste your life.