Hospice Training

If you’re new-ish to my blog, or haven’t read that far back, I’m in school to become a Practical Nurse.

This involves working with people who might die.   Just in case you didn’t know.

As an LPN the primary areas we work in are Long Term Care, Palliative Care, Post-Natal Maternity and Med-Surge.

2 of those 3 involve the likelyhood that someone will die.

So we need to know how to handle that, how to manage that, how to be a part of that.

Enter Hospice Training.

It started at 9am.  Tears started about the same time.  I brought Bailey’s for my coffee.  Drank it all.  Cried for 3 freaking hours.  Still teary.

But yeah.  Lets talk about death. Dying.  The dying bill of rights.  Grief.  Mourning.  Bereavement.

Lets do this all in a class.

And lets watch Jane fucking break down over and over and over and over.

Other people cried.  In parts.

I cried the whole time.  And after.  And honestly if someone were to look at me sideways I’d probably start crying again.

But yeah.  It was like having a wound…and someone sticking their finger in it and twisting it around so that they could say “HEY! This is how it HURTS.  Now you KNOW how it feels!!”

Fuck you.

And fuck you again.

But I will have a bit of a better idea how to help people through the process when it’s time. And hopefully, I will be able to bring an empathy to the dance floor that another wouldn’t have had.

But fuck me.  I haven’t cried that much for a very long time.

After class?   I went and drank.  Had some serious laughs. Had a good time.

But I still want to cry.  A lot.  Because that class brought up SO much emotion.

Fuck I miss him.

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Be Grateful

I’m sure you’ve seen the meme on Facebook or wherever.

Don't Cry

I was at a derby bout this weekend.  Northern Mayhem vs Terrace.  In Terrace.

Terrace is the place where Mark and I moved a month after we got together. It’s the place he proposed to me.  Where we conceived our first… and lost it.  It’s the place we had our marriage blessed by the church we belonged to. It’s where our Andrew was conceived, and born.  It’s where we solidified our relationship and who we were as a couple. It was the start of MarkandJane.

And I was there, driving around the town, ripping off bandaids, picking at the scabs, allowing myself to bleed a little.

And then I get to the derby bout.

I had planned to ignore the last weekend and just have an amazing fucking time, learn new things and play hard.  But one of the North Stars came up to me and offered me more.

“You’re my buddy.  You and I are going to work together all night.  Last weekend was last weekend and tonight we’re going to have fun.”

I started crying. Apparently it took someone just being nice and supportive (damn you Mark for dying and taking that from me!!!) after the day of picking at the emotional scabs for the tears to finally come out.

I had to explain that this (tears and emotions) had nothing to do with this (the derby stuff that happened last week and I was ignoring it this weekend regardless of what happened)

And she said to me…

Be grateful for the town.  Be grateful for what it gave you and the memories you have because of it.

And somehow… for the first time… I’m able to see that.  I’ve seen the “Don’t cry” meme before and in my head I’m like.. DUDE.  Do you not GET how fucking PAINFUL it was to lose him? (yeah, I yelled at the meme a few times)

But grateful.  I can do grateful.

Grateful doesn’t mean I’m not sad.  Grateful doesn’t mean I don’t cry.  Grateful doesn’t mean I ignore the pain.

Grateful means that even when I’m crying, I smile because of everything we shared.

Grateful means that even when it hurts so much I can’t breathe, I still hold on to the love we shared.

Grateful means that I can look at the town here we started and smile at the memories even as they’re ripping me apart.

Grateful means that picking the scabs and ripping the bandaids means the healing can carry on… even if it leaves a scar in the end.

I can do grateful.  And I am incredibly grateful for her for saying it in those words.

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The top image is Mark and Me and Kyle and Katie at the mouth of the Shames on the Skeena River.

The bottom is Mark and Chi-wen & Simon and someone I don’t remember hiking Terrace Mountain.

 

So…. My Husband Died

I’m in nursing school.  In just over a year I will have finished a diploma program and will have (almost) earned the title “Practical Nurse.”

It is a … therapeutic process for me. Each new thing I learn, each new skill I learn brings up memories from when he was in the hospital.

And each new instructor I have to have a conversation with them.

“So… my husband died.  And this is bringing up a LOT of memories and triggers.  And if I step back from what I’m doing or what’s being taught, please understand that it’s a matter of trying to get myself under control or minimizing the emotional battering I’m going through.  But I AM learning, I just don’t want to be penalized because I have to do it differently at that moment.”

So yeah.  My husband died. And I get to talk about it over and over.  And maybe as I talk about it, I’ll desensitize more?  I don’t know.  It doesn’t seem to be happening, but I still talk about it.

Sometimes I don’t want to though.

Today I didn’t want to, but I did want my instructor to understand that I am going through things and working on them.

Because my husband died.  And he wouldn’t want me to live life any other way than out loud and as boldly as I am. So I talk.  And I learn.  And I try to make the world around me a bit better and a bit brighter.

And I will take the lessons learned from him and his death and build a life that is beautiful and bright.  And be there for another who is going through the same thing.

It’s part of why I’m becoming a nurse, yanno?

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“I’m Pretty Sure You’re Worth Waiting For”

It’s been a while since I’ve had something hit me out of the blue and devastate me.

It’s been a long while since the grief overflowed, ripped through my chest and left me gasping for air.

It’s been a while since the last ugly cry.

If you are up to date on Grey’s Anatomy, you know Derek is dead, and it’s been 2 years and Meredith is trying to navigate widowhood.  The writers are doing an amazing job of portraying a young widow with children and portraying her realistically.  Ellen Pompeo is beyond amazing at this role.

Meredith has had some moments.  Some good, some bad and some ugly.  It’s to be expected.

In tonight’s episode, she had a moment where she took a step… and realized it was too soon.  And she freaked out.

And the guy she freaked out on simply worried about her.

He showed up at her house later that day and she apologized and explained and his answer was “Ok, you’re not ready, I can back off. But I’ll still call and I’ll be waiting because I’m pretty sure you’re worth waiting for.”

And that moment ripped me apart.

And the ugly cry hit.

I woke the baby. (Grandson visiting)

The crying baby woke the teenager.

And the teenager… OMG I have such an amazing young man.  The teenager came over to me and asked if I was ok and did I need a hug.

I took the hug.  And cried some more.  And explained to him that I just missed dad very much right now.

Because to him, I was worth waiting for.

Mark in Fruitvale

The Flashbacks

Nursing is a profession where you get intimately acquainted with your client’s body.

You learn about the things that most people are too embarrassed to talk about.

Colonostomies. Bowels. Urination. Elimination.  Wastes.

The upside to this is I’ve watched a lot of it while Mark was in the hospital.  The downside is that every new topic that comes up results in yet another trigger.

Today was dialysis.

Sitting in a hospital waiting to find out what ICU he’d be heading to because Lions Gate didn’t have dialysis.

Watching his blood circulate when he was on dialysis.

Off dialysis.  Back on dialysis. Off again.

Wondering if he’d have permanent kidney damage.

So many triggers.

So many flashbacks.

Good thing is I’m going to get all out of the way before I see an actual patient.  Bad thing is… I’m having them.

Memory is fine.  Recall is shot.  Until I step into class and something triggers me.

2015… wait… 2016… and peace…

I didn’t do my usual end of year post.

Reflection on what was, and hopes for what will be.

I am in a different place than I ever have been.  It’s odd, really.

I am practicing “non-attachment” in my life.

I am not attached to the outcome.

I am not attached to a certain path.

I am not attached to a future that only truly exists in my mind.

I am practicing this on a daily basis.

I invite people to share my time… and I am not attached to the answer.  I would be happy if the answer is yes, and understanding if it is no but not attached to the answer.

I refuse to agonize, to dramatize, to create pain for myself.

Do I miss my husband?  yes.  INCREDIBLY.  I miss him with every fibre of my being.

Do I miss my Metalhead Poet?  yes.  I miss him with every fibre of my being.

Do I spend a lot of time agonizing over what was, what could have been, what might be, what might not be?  Fuck NO.  It’s done me NO good over the past 4 years.  (hell, ever)

This hasn’t been an easy place to get to.  It’s easy to say… just let go of the outcome.  Just let go of the attachment.  But it’s fucking HARD.

I am a control freak.  (yep, I said it out loud).  I am that person who can organize the shit out of any situation and have everything “just so” and make sure all the i’s are dotted and t’s are crossed.

If you are moving, I will find you a place, have your utilities hooked up, your stuff packed and all mail/correspondence addresses changed months before you actually move.

I am the person you want in a crisis.  I will be there to hold your hand. I will manage things, I will take notes, I will advocate the hell out of everything.

I plan my life like a master chess player.  I look for every nuance, every possible outcome, every path before choosing one.  And when one path closes, I move to the next path.  When plan A fails, I move to plan B.   There’s 26 letters of the alphabet to work with.   My doctor, 2 1/2 years ago (or more, I don’t remember exactly when) told me that if I’m always living life as if there’s a game going on – then I’m seeing things in terms of winner vs loser.   IT TOOK ME THIS LONG TO UNDERSTAND THAT.

Seriously.

If I’m always looking at things as if they are a chess match, planning my next move, then the people around me?  They will suffer.

I was with someone a few weeks ago… having some fun sexxy time… and he said to me… just relax… enjoy the moment… and for the first time… I did.

I just relaxed.  I enjoyed the moment for what it was.  I wasn’t focussed on the ending, the outcome, the next step.  I was just focused on him and how I was feeling with him at that moment.

It was amazing.

I started to put that into practice in other parts of my life.  This was… 3? weeks ago? ish.  And I have been mostly successful. Focusing on the moment.  Focusing on the now.  Enjoying what IS rather than what I want things to be.

It’s freed me in a lot of ways.

As a side note: there are areas in my life where this is HARD to do… where I am struggling… but most areas, I’m mostly succeeding.  Some days it takes some mental working to get to that point… but when I do get there, it’s a beautiful thing.

I’m discovering peace.  And I like it.

Peace

It Was Meant To Be…

When I was in employment flux, between my first and second seasons at BC Wildfire, I went to a career counsellor, jumped through some hoops and decided on Licensed Practical Nurse as my upgrade/career path.

My reasons:

  1. The amazing nurses who inspired me.
  2. To be of service
  3. To be there for other people going through what I went through (simliar to #2)
  4. Employability.
  5. Mobility OR stability.

What I didn’t remember… was it was something I had thought about a long time ago.

This was part of an update post on April 13, 2012.  Almost 3 months after he initially went into the hospital.

Mark Healing Community Post

I can’t do a point/arrow/highlight on a picture in a wordpress blog, but right in the middle… It says..

“If I could do it over again I would go into nursing or surgery because that was AWESOME to watch.”

 “I would go into nursing”

And yah.  In 2 months, I will be in nursing.

It was meant to be.  It is happening.

I know for a lot of widows/widowers, the phrase “everything happens for a reason” is cause for white hot rage, seriously offended, going to throat punch the speaker reactions.

For me?  It’s the truth.

Everything happened.  For. A. REASON.

I am exactly where I should be in my life.

I am doing what I am supposed to.

All avenues, all options have closed off and the path towards nursing is brightly lit, clear and safe.

Path

I know where I’m supposed to go from here. I can see the way, and without EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENED…

I wouldn’t be here.

I’d be in Squamish still (miss my friends!) working with Co-operators, selling life insurance and probably doing an amazing job at it.

I’d have a husband who requires round the clock care with a recovery measured in years not months.

I’d be exhausted.  My kids would come second to my husband’s needs.  My husband would feel guilty about that.  He’d feel helpless and hopeless and lost and a burden.  I would probably spend more time trying to make him understand that he’s not a burden than just loving him, because he’d need that from me, from us.

The reality is, life would have amazing beautiful moments.  I would still be Mrs. Mark Smith.  I wouldn’t resent it for a moment.   But it would be my life, focussed entirely on my husband.

But now, I’m allowed to shine.

A friend of mine blogged a long time ago… he gave me my life back.  I know that he’d be here if he could… but in the end, he loved me, loved his family enough to let us out of the limbo we were in.  He loved us enough that he would have fought if there were any real options left.  But there weren’t.  So he let go, and let us move forward.

And now… where I’m supposed to be is coming to fruition.

I love him so much more for being willing to let go.  For doing what’s best for EVERYONE, instead of holding on and keeping us in that holding pattern.  It shows how amazing of a person he was.   And I wish everyone who reads this could have met him.  Could have known him.

He was so incredible and I was so blessed to have been loved by him.  So blessed to have been his wife for 13 years.  So blessed to be the mother of his children.  So very blessed to have loved him to his last breath.