By now you know that I work in an environment of high emotions. We all learn to deal with losing patients/friends in different ways and varying degrees of success. Unlike nurses in a hospital who see much death of strangers, we KNOW our patients. And their families, and their pets. We see them 3 days, 4 or 5 hours at a time, every week for years. Some of them many many years, and some only a short time.
Today while arm wrestling with the new computer program, I tried for the 5th time to print a report that would plot for me the number of treatments we've done in any given time period - in this case I wanted June '07. Somewhere in it's teeny pinhead, the program thought I must want every last patient who has ever walked through our doors -- all 273 of them.
Now, 73 of them are current patients, and that leaves 200 or so that have come and gone in the past 8 years. Some have happily received a transplant and gone on with their lives, some moved away. And 167 of them have passed away. The number stopped me cold and took my breath away.
I knew them all. Hugged and laughed with them. Threw confetti over them when they had a particularly excellent lab result after a hard month. Fixed their prescription problems, arranged for them to travel and dialyze along the way, and argued with their insurance companies.
And of those 167 souls, I cannot remember most of them.
That thought is so disturbing I can hardly keep it in my head long enough to wrap my brain around it. How could I forget? How is it possible to remember the name and even the diagnosis, but not the eyes or the laugh? Some have left indelible impressions, good or bad, but so many are misty memories. It makes me sad, and it makes me need to touch my reality and look at my life and be sure I am seeing what I need to see. Paying attention. When I came home today I went out and took 54 pictures of parts of my life I love and make me feel good but I take for granted. I'm sharing a few of them with you because it occured to me that blogging fills part of my need for prettiness, by the sharing of your quilts and lives and your pretty things. It's not the THINGS that matter, it's the feelings they evoke, isn't it? And the people. Families, friends, patients, the church congregation and my favorite checker at the market. All the lives that have touched mine and all the lives I've touched. It's too daunting a concept to dwell on, and tomorrow I'll probably have to put it away and deal with immediate headaches. But every once in awhile I'll make a point of noticing.