I spend a great deal of my time in senior villages, one resident recently dubbed it with a laugh, “God’s Waiting Room”. Last week I dreamt of one of my patients who had Alzheimer’s, she had been up for recertification on the hospice program and there was some discussion as to whether she was declining fast enough to meet Medicare standards. I felt as her nurse that she needed to continue with our program and ultimately she did. In my dream I saw her young and vibrant, perhaps 32, in her prime with dark curly hair. She was smiling and talking with her caregivers who didn’t noticed her transformation to her younger self. In my dream I remember thinking she was in her astral/spirit form….I don’t remember much of my dreams, but I did remember that.
When I visited her the next day I told her and her caregiver about the dream. We laughed about the dark curly hair as she now had a mass of white upon her head. The patient did not respond, her disease too advanced. The caregiver was foreign and so I did something I hadn’t done before, I used our language line and got an interrupter. We always seemed to be able to communicate fine, but I wanted to make sure she understood what I was going to say. I wanted her to know that I recognized her excellent care but that no matter how well she cared for this patient at some point she would decline and ultimately die. She argued with me, “No, no she is strong, I know her better than you! She will live another ten years.” I told her I hoped she was right and patients make a liar out of me from time to time. She was not comfortable with me after that conversation. Despite the fact I praised her caregiving, and believe me she was beyond wonderful, she still felt as though I was finding fault. I apologized for making her feel that way, smoothed the ruffled feathers as I hugged her goodbye.
Today is my day off. Today my patient passed away. I was surprised and yet not. God has a plan, His plan is not ours. I am home and someone else was sent to care for the patient and the caregiver, this was God’s plan, I just work in his waiting room.