In WHAT THEY'RE SAYING

Sue Miranda, RN

A while ago I took care of a married couple. She had lymphoma. He had diabetes and dementia. They had recently moved into a small, one level home and had given clear direction to their children, their doctor, their friends and to me, their primary care nurse, that they wanted to continue to live at home. I set them up with services that we offer at the New Milford VNA to help keep them in their own home, as well as connecting them to programs like Meals on Wheels.

Her husband didn’t eat very well. If he had his way he would have lived on Danish and black coffee. So when I introduced him to a nutritional shake, he used it as a creamer for his coffee. Of course it’s not how I intended him to use it, but it was a start.

Eventually he developed complications that required Hospice care. I called their daughter and asked her to clear out a room to make space for a hospital bed. Within 24 hours, both children were there, and each of them had assumed a unique role. The son took over the bills and paperwork that had accumulated. Together they slid into roles that utilized their strengths. Having them there made this health transition a little smoother, and I could see in the mom’s eyes that she felt more at peace. Within a week, the gentleman died in his home surrounded by the people he loved.

In the meantime his wife’s lymphoma had gone into remission, and I was required to discharge her per Medicare guidelines. I then enrolled her in one of our community health programs which gave me the opportunity to visit her monthly. On those visits, I would check her vitals, make sure she understood her medication schedule, and then I would report any changes to her doctor. She and I also discussed what books we were reading, and she would show me pictures of her children. We enjoyed each other’s company.

It doesn’t happen all the time, but there are some patients who blur the line between patient, friend and family. This family was that and more for me.

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