Quality of Life and Functioning
Personal experiences with death and dying can greatly influence one’s manner of rationalizing the situation. As a nurse with many years of experience in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) and Nephrology/Dialysis, I have had much experience with death and dying. It was never so evident as in the long term illness of my mother. My father and sister were unable to understand the situation as I did with my professional experience. Even my and the doctor’s explanations weren’t enough for them to realize that the course my father chose for my mother was a long and uncomfortable one. This, in turn, was a learning experience for me. My experiences prepared me for my mother’s terminal situation where my family did not have that base of knowledge and experience to draw from. It has made me much more empathetic to those who don’t have my level of experience to understand what is happening with their loved one. There are many times when I disagree with a course of action a family chooses for their loved one but, I have learned to accept their choices as the right choice for that family. A family who has to make any choice, whether it be palliative or “full steam ahead”, in the presence of a terminal situation for their loved one, is brave. As healthcare practitioners, we need to honor and respect the difficult decisions made for our patients by their families no matter what our personal and professional experience “tells us” is the right path.
Three strategies to promoting the health of this family the community health nurse (CHN) can address include, providing education and speciality physician consultation regarding the appropriate and safe use of Mrs. Thomas’ pain medication, physical therapy (PT) and occupational therapy (OT) consult to...