Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Life's Pretty Things

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.


We hear intimate details of their lives, we celebrate birthdays and Fridays with them and sit talking for long hours with their loving and overwhelmed families. And somehow, even though we lose the great majority of them, we all stay in this special practice.


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.

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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.

13 comments:

Carole said...

We (the general we) need to take time to notice and not just look; to listen and not just hear. I've come to an understanding that it doesn't matter that I no longer remember the name of someone. What matters is remembering how they touched my life. Being present in the moment is something I find difficult. Thanks for sharing!

Kim said...

You couldn't do the job you do if you vividly remembered all the patients who don't make it--it's God's or nature's way of helping us cope with all the sadness. I think, though, that you are there for them when it really matters--when they are there with you.

Nancy said...

This is beautifully written, Su. I worked for a few years as a hospital chaplain and I remember thinking, "I'll never forget . . . ." But I forgot. Thank you for this post.

Leslie said...

I wondered why you've been quiet this week. Thank you for a beautiful post and for warming my heart. I'm so glad you live just down the road and just on the other side of my monitor. *hugs*

Angie said...

I just want to reiterate what Carole, Kim, Nancy and Leslie have said. Thank you for the post, for reminding us, for sharing your thoughts and feelings with us, and most of all, for being there for 'them' and us.

Ms. Jan said...

How can you not do something to protect your soul from all the losses? The patients who passed on had what they absolutely needed in the present moment--someone who cared for them and what they were experiencing. Don't be too hard on yourself and do keep your eyes open to the loveliness around you. Thanks for sharing your thoughts and feelings.

Elaine Adair said...

I don't know any of the answers, but thank you for your post. It got me to thinking a little bit, rather than just dash through all the blogs.

Something like "I passed this way"

Quilting Journey said...

Su B...there is no doubt that you and I are connected on some other level. And even though, I wrote you privately about this post and your comment on my own blog, my goodle reader has continued to bring your blog up as 'new' over and over...so, now I have been here three times. This heel clicking is an amazing process, but then you are an amazing woman.

Leigh said...

It is the only way to cope in these situations. I guarantee you they all remember you though as we don't forget a kindness.
(((Hugs)))

Rosy said...

Such lovely words and thoughts. It is so good to have a "reality check" every so often. You are a special person and God has given you wonderful Graces to share in this life.

sunshine said...

statictiss sometimes should not be looked at as they can be depressing. Remember with love and live life. I love the ruby glass photo I collect it too. MAy be tomorrow I will show mine just hard to take a photo of as it is red in a red cupboard not much contrast there.

take care
sunshine

Quilting Kim said...

What a beautifully written inspirational post and the snippets of your life that you interjected into it make it so personal and so you.

I'm going to keep coming back and looking at this post - because you hit the nail on the head about remembering the things that really matter.

Pam said...

A very lovely post.

I also have seen many people pass away over the many years I have worked and mostly I remember the emotions and situations and not the person. Although over the years there have been some people that really went deep into me and I will probably never forget them. But I mostly you forget because there is so many memories and so much emotion always replacing the past memories.