Missing Him Lately

I spend a lot of time with ALC/LTC patients and residents lately.

Helping them with body care, helping them eat, helping them walk, helping their lives have meaning.

Some of them talk.

Some of them don’t.

The ones that don’t, I try to have “conversations” with them… but I’m not super good and it leaves me with time to think.

Would this have been my life if he’d lived? Or would he have recovered to be independent again? Or would it have been, no matter what, the beginning of the end?

The what if’s get me.

What if he’d lived? What if he’d pushed that one more time? What if?

And WHY THE FUCK DID HE HAVE TO DIE?

Why do I have to navigate this world without him who understood me so well? Why do I (as much as I do love him) have to navigate everything with my new husband who doesn’t *quite* get it? Who I have to work at having good communication with?

Why did other people get to survive what he went through and he didn’t?

Why did I have to be a widow?

Why the fuck?

I’ll never have the answers and this will never be a thing I’m *over* because how do you get over losing someone you love so deeply?

Lately it’s been super freaking hard managing the grief. It hits me out of no where and I always feel like crying.  7 years gone. That’s half the time I had with him. I want more.

Stages-of-GriefMark in Fruitvale

Nobody Knows

7 years ago everyone knew me as MarkandJane.

They knew that Mark and Jane were an entity.  They knew Mark’s love of fishing, flyfishing especially. They knew that he had disabilities (although he was careful not to show anyone else how bad it could get).  They knew he adored his kids, and they knew that he was the primary parent in our household.

They knew he was well read, articulate although they might not have known he wasn’t formally educated.

They knew he liked to play World of Warcraft.  I was the only one who knew that he waited until he was alone to do so. He’d tuck me into bed, snuggle for a bit, then get up and go do his thing while I slept.

They knew he was passionate about the environment.  He was angry beyond belief when the train derailed and sanitized the Cheakamus River. And he was heartbroken over it.

They knew he was the go-to guy for all things fishing.

They knew he was an amazing cook who made incredible Bailey’s latte’s.

They knew he and I had an incredible connection, an incredible Love that spans time, distance and death.

And now… I am married to Ryan.  And no one I know up here knows anything about Mark.

How could they? I moved up here a year after he died. I knew no one up here when I moved.

NO ONE KNOWS.

So how the FUCK, if they don’t know… am I supposed to explain to them why I’m crying randomly? Why a stupid song will reduce me to rubble? Why I start leaking for seemingly no reason?

How am I supposed to explain to anyone who sees me in the middle of a grief storm how much it still hurts every. single. day. that he’s gone.

Widows always feel the need to explain… “I DO love my living husband… but…”

It’s horrible. Unless you’ve lived it, how do you explain to someone how much you miss the dead husband even as you’re snuggled up to the live one?

I don’t go looking for grief triggers – but lately they’re finding me. And the leaking has started again.  Randomly, without warning or control.

And at 6 1/2 years out… I look like a mentally and emotionally unstable person instead of a grieving widow.

Which really sucks.

I miss this look:

IMAG0026134-SCAN0203

I miss the love that shone out of his eyes whenever he looked at me. I see it in all the pictures.  Times I didn’t realize he was looking at me like that.

And so I grieve in this new world of “Mark who?” and hope that the people who catch me at it understand that I’m not emotionally unstable – I’m just missing him.

Dealing with Death

After my husband died, I went into nursing.

Seems like an odd choice of careers – after spending 159 days watching my husband get better, get sicker, get better, get sicker and finally die – that I would choose a profession that would force me to watch people get better, get sicker and die.

I’m a Licensed Practical Nurse now. I work with people who are mostly stable. My scope of practice says that I deal with patients who have a stable, predictable state of health.

Except when I’m a part of a code team.  The code team deals with trauma, cardiac arrest and other life threatening situations.

The hospital I work at allows LPN’s to do 1 of 2 jobs on the code team: compressions or record.

In order to record, you must have taken a course – which I have not – so I frequently am the compressions person. (Or code white – but that’s a different role)

At 0625 this morning, Code Blue was called. ETA 5 mins or something like that.  That means – 3 of us from the floor are running to the ER prepared to try to save someone’s life. And we ran. And heard the 2nd call – Mat (something I didn’t hear) Stat.

On the elevator, waiting to go to the 1st floor, we talked – was the Mat call related to the Code Blue? We hoped not.

We were wrong.

This was my first code where I was responsible for compressions.  My first code where I was not a student, or a new grad or anything but JUST ANOTHER TEAM MEMBER.

And my job was as important as the others. I was part of the team.

The report we were given when we got to the ER?  14 day old baby in cardiac arrest.

W. T. Everloving F?

My brain raced – do I remember how to do compressions on an infant? I didn’t get to do the NRP – will I be enough? Should I excuse myself? Could I handle this? Tears were welling up in my eyes and the baby wasn’t even there yet. How can I possibly be an effective nurse, an effective member of the team when I can’t control my emotions?

And then they arrived. I watched the EMT perform compressions. I took several breaths.  Waited until they were done report before tapping him on the shoulder and letting him know I could take over.

And then I did.

And my world narrowed to just what I was doing.  Trying to focus on the tiny human in front of me, willing her to breathe on her own, her heart to beat on its own. Listening and watching the RN’s around me do their job with amazing precision and execution.  Watching the doctor and the nurses move together like a well orchestrated team.

And I was doing my part.  Ignoring the cries and heartbreak of the parents behind me, beside me, in front of me. Because the moment I allowed them to penetrate my consciousness – my emotions came back.

We worked on that baby for 43 minutes.

43 minutes we kept going – hoping beyond hope that we weren’t too late.

43 minutes.

That beautiful little girl did not get to see her 15th day. She won’t get to see her 1st birthday, her 16th, have kids, get married, break hearts. She won’t get to learn to crawl, walk or talk.

It’s moments like this – that I question my ability to be a nurse.  Moment’s like this that I wonder if I have the emotional fortitude – especially given my own trauma and grief – to carry on and support the families of those who die.

I walked out of the ER, down the corridor and was overcome with big ugly cries at the elevator.  Grieving for a life cut short.

I got to the top of the elevator, grabbed my stuff (end of shift and all) and got to the staff entrance to the parking lot and just outside, my knees buckled… more big ugly cries. Grieving with the parents who have to face life without their child.

In my car – crying on my way home – pull into my driveway and bawl. Grieving for myself having spent about 1/2 those 43 minutes hoping for a miracle.

I will cry over this little girl – who’s name I never got – for a while. It will make me a better nurse, better caregiver. I will learn the things I want to learn and do and be because we learn from the mistakes we make, the situations we experience and the things we do in nursing.  We don’t learn from books -we learn from experiences.

I wonder.  Did Mark’s nurses cry with me when they got off shift?  Did they grieve? I like to think so. They’re who inspired me to become a nurse – and I can’t imagine they were not affected by what happened.

I get it now though. I remember asking at the beginning – how do you separate feelings from work?

You just do.  You stuff it into a box, and let it out when you’re in a safe place and can feel.

Because when you walk away from the tiny human who doesn’t get to go home… you still have a job to do – and the rest of your patients need you.

Filters and Work

My filter is gone.  I don’t know where it went to – I had gotten pretty good at managing it.

Oh don’t get me wrong – my filter broke after Mark died, but I have been very carefully putting it back together since going back to work.

Apparently it’s malfunctioning again.

I have been snappish at home.  I have been overly emotional, somewhat cranky and generally, not myself.

Stress?  Grief?

I’m not sure.   What I am sure of is that my filter is gone and unless I keep my mouth shut (thankfully that never broke!!) I am prone to saying  things that are not necessarily appropriate.

This is causing stress at home.   This could cause stress at work.

Today’s situation is that a co-worker is having massive computer issues.  She has IT working on it.

IT called.  Twice.  The second time, they just needed some information.

The  co-worker is in a webinar, with her door closed.   I tap gently on her door, not wanting to *disturb* but wanting to get the answer to the question IT had.

Two OTHER co-workers jump in “SHE’s in a WEBINAR”  Yes, I know, I replied.  IT is on the line and they need information. “THEY’VE already called and were told she’ll CALL BACK”

FINE.

YOU deal with it.  One of YOU TWO can handle the situation.

And I walked back to my desk.

The first co-worker popped her head out – I told her what IT needed and she dealt with it.

But the reality is – my filter was gone at that moment and if she HADN’T popped her head out, I don’t know what else would have come out of my mouth.

I really need to get a handle on my filter…. *sigh*

shhhh