Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Hitting Home

With my step-dad diagnosed with inoperable pancreatic cancer, my nurse's brain is turned towards family. With me five hours away, my sister fifteen hours away, and my brother one hour away, there's alot to finesse and figure out about how his care will unfold. I will not go into specifics here as it would be unproductive, but I will say that I now find myself in the position of acting as Nurse Care Manager for my parents.

Emails are flying back and forth between the sibs and their spouses, trying to come to terms with the challenges ahead. One of my personal edges is figuring out how to think clearly and clinically about the situation, not losing sight of the fact that this is my loved one who is the source of my concern and interest. The difficult and somewhat contradictory trick is to not let my emotions cloud my thinking, while at the same time not let my clinical focus supercede the emotions which are now understandably reeling.

Based upon my observations of patients receiving dire news and undergoing life-transforming and potentially debilitating treatments, the astute nurse must treat the family as a system and contend with the problems at hand systemically, holistically. Now, I have no illusions that I can do that, but I do see that I carry the most medical information in my head, and have the greatest understanding of the system, the treatments, the potential roadblocks, and the places where I consistently see errors made.

Obviously, I want to forsee as many areas of challenge as I can, attempting to head some of these wild horses off at the pass, perhaps even completely avoiding some problems which might otherwise have reared their ugly heads. But I also realize that, in my human frailty and emotional connection to the situation, I can only do so much. There are other professionals who I might elect to pull into this process, and the family will all pull together to see this through to whatever end we must.

The reality of the situation hits home, and as I attempt to orchestrate what I see as necessary to arrange, I grapple with the emotions which now swim in my already crowded mind.

I pray for peace and clarity, and freedom from suffering for all.
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