I worked as a Certified Nursing Assistant and as a Medical Emergency Technician in the medical field for 40 years and I always loved the educational training I received. I worked in various venues of hospital care, including but not limited too, the emergency room, critical care unit, orthopedic, medical/surgical, and as a obstetrics technician. I also worked in the Nursing Home environment as a Certified Nursing Assistant.
I’m taking care of my own husband, who is dying of a blood clot in his heart. It could have been surgically fixed, but the chances of him dying on the table were very high, according to the cardiac surgeon, who assessed Ron during an emergency hospitalization for a heart attack. Ron had been sick for a long time before this with PTSD that resulted from a traumatic experience he had during our marriage, as well as physical illness that ultimately was misdiagnosed. He had lost a lot of weight, going from 170 lbs. to 99 lbs. in less than 1 year.
My husband was put into hospice care at home. With my training in the various areas of the medical field, I felt somewhat prepared to handle providing compassionate care to my husband. But I was only partially correct as it did not prepare me for the many intense emotions that I’ve experienced throughout this process.
When I was told that my husband was dying, I was shocked. My heart fell. I got scared. The thoughts that were going through my mind were of emptiness, relief, questions about what am I going to do? I felt anger that was not directed at my husband, but at me for the thoughts of planning his funeral. Should I have a memorial service? Paying for a cremation was very hard, I couldn’t even read the part where they explained what they did to the body so my son read it and then I just initialed it. Ron and I didn’t want funerals. We had talked together about this and agreed to be cremated. Ron said to me once, “I don’t want to be kept on someone’s shelf!” He wanted to be ‘set free’ at the beach, a place we both loved and had gone to often in the past..
Other thoughts were related to what would happen after Ron passed. I need to find another apartment because I don’t know if I can afford to stay here, etc. The ‘why me?’, feeling guilty for wanting to be held and loved by a man. These feelings would upset me very much, because I felt that they were wrong and felt guilty for even thinking that way. I felt (and still feel at times) guilt for wishing it was over, so I could go on with my life. I don’t even really know where I am going or what I will end up doing, no plans.
I was angry with myself, that I couldn’t do anything for my husband except to keep him comfortable and pain-free. I could not change what God had in store for Ron and I. So I’m doing the best I can at making sure he gets what he wants and trying very hard not to let frustration get in the way. Yes I did get frustrated, because of having to jump at every need he had, fixing his medicines, getting him something to drink, walking him to and from the bathroom. Trying to figure out what to fix him for dinner, keep up with laundry, the house and all the people who came to see him. I’ve also had to take on the daunting task of handling the finances now, as Ron always did this for us.
I feel very tired, worn out, but I continue to do what I need to get done. Sometimes I find myself sitting on the couch watching Ron’s breathing and the skin colors that change from grey, blue, and a very white color. Then I get very sad and scared because he look’s dead but he’s not. I’m trying not to do this anymore because it’s like a vulture just waiting for the person lost in a desert to die.
I can’t really say how I will react at the passing, I just don’t know. I know my heart will be broken, I’m sure I will cry, but I also know I will have to be able to keep my head above water. My biggest fear is falling into depression, which is a bad place to be. I was there when my father died and fell into a very deep depression. I refuse to go there again!
When my father died it was very traumatic to me. He was found all purple in the face, aspirated, I tried clearing his throat and started C. P. R. . I could feel his rib’s cracking under my hands and the liquid just going up and down in his throat, I knew inside me that it was of no use and that Daddy was dead. I stood up and said, “I hate God, why would a loving God take my father in such an ugly way?” I fell into the deepest depression, had nightmares, couldn’t even close my eyes without seeing his face. I did learn how to overcome it, though it was not easy. My father’s death was so traumatic for me, I’d forgotten how to even pray, so at night when I went to bed I prayed ‘ Thy will be done Lord’, over and over. Jesus answered my prayer and helped me to grow in His word, learn to trust Him and read my bible, so I could get to know Him better.
As I got to know Him, things started changing. I was feeling better, although I was not a regular church goer. He was my Teacher and guide and I have gotten stronger in trusting God. Believing that He will see me through this, just as I learned when my father died. He would never leave me, nor forsake me. I know, that just as God saw me through the death of my father, He’ll see me through Ron’s passing too. I do not doubt that Ron is going to a place of peace and joy, and I know that in trusting Him, God will lead me to the same. . .