Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Friends, Romans, and Granddaughters

A couple of weeks ago, I spent the day in the home of one of my very favorite patients ever.  She was dying, but didn't want to go to hospice, because she didn't want to lose her nurse (me).  She was stubborn like that.  She had planned her funeral, right up to a seating chart, and had paid for it all, in cash, some weeks before.  She knew what was coming and had, in fact, told me the night before that she was ready to go, because she was just flat out tired.  I spent the day getting her comfortable, with a pain pump and nausea meds.  It was a long day, but I knew I'd done what I could.  In fact, I had put a catheter in her, which was no small feat, because though her eyes had been shut for hours, she started moving every time I made the attempt.  I finally got it in, but not before she said to me, eyes still closed "that's just about enough."  Those were her last words.  She had waited for her dear friend to arrive from out of state, but was comatose when the friend arrived.

I took her in and explained the situation, then let her have time alone time with her best friend.  I was going to leave soon, because I had gotten my patient as comfortable as I could, but I wanted to be sure that everyone had their questions answered.  A group of us sat down in the kitchen to have a heart to heart.  The friend came in and joined us, then looked me in the eye earnestly and said "Miss Lisa, can you please explain to me what Roman cancer is?"  I was confused, and asked her to repeat herself.  "Roman cancer.  What is it?"  I couldn't for the life of me think of what she was talking about, and it must've shown on my face, because the next thing you know, she said "I'm so sorry, I don't have my bottom teeth in, so I'm not sayin' it right.  I said ROMAN cancer."  I replied, "I'm so sorry, but I'm still not sure what you mean."  We just kind of looked at each other, each trying to figure out what it was.

It was about then that her granddaughter said, without ever looking up from her plate, "Oh Miss Evie, it roamin' cancer.  She called it that cause it was roamin' all over her body."

And that, dear people, is yet another reason why I'm a nurse.