Wednesday, March 28, 2007

A personal tale

It should be no news to newFNP readers that newFNP's schedule is busy, overbooked, conducted in Spanish and often overwhelming. Given that, little personal difficulties may cause newFNP to experience her work stress on a continuum ranging from extra-stressful to unbearable.

Some examples.

A lone pimple: extra-stressful.
Bad hair day: pretty much every day, thus no added stress. Thank goodness for My Little Pony-tails.
Forgotten Nalgene: dehydratingly stressful.
Fight with Punjabi boyfriend: extra-stressful, that gaddha.

So imagine what real personal trauma might do.

NewFNP was raised by her maternal aunt from the age of 14, when her mother died suddenly after suffering a cerebral aneurysm. NewFNP's aunt, like her mom, was a single mom with two children. NewFNP's cousins are like her brothers. They snowboarded with newFNP, they white-water kayaked and rock-climbed together.

Two months before newFNP finished her studies, her older cousin was diagnosed with glioblastoma multiforme. She spent the summer after finishing her MSN with him, driving him to radiation every day, watching The West Wing on DVD and eating take-out Mexican and Baskin-Robbins. Last week, he started hospice care. He's 35. Thirty-fucking-five.

NewFNP spent last weekend holding his hand as he walked down the hall, paralyzed on his left, unable to walk alone. She held the container for him to urinate into. She sat by the hospital bed now in his bedroom while he slept. These intimacies that nurses share... well, newFNP has never shared them with another family member. While his mom does this for him on a daily basis, the last time newFNP spent time with him, he was walking alone. He wasn't asking newFNP about his impending death. He wasn't asking about what would happen when he could no longer walk or swallow.

NewFNP has a sweet patient now who had the tip of his finger traumatically amputated by a soccer cleat last weekend. He comes in for dressing changes and evaluation. It's a quiet appointment: cleaning, wrapping, assessing for re-growth of tissue that resembles a finger.

On Monday, newFNP could see him mourning the loss of his normal finger. Cleaning, thinking, Bacitracin-ing, fighting back tears, wrapping, mourning.

The odd thing is, in the midst of experiencing sadness of such depth that she cannot imagine it's resolution, newFNP has been surprisingly peaceful at work. It's not that she doesn't care. It's just - well - newFNP doesn't really know what it is.

She just can't leave the profound sadness at the door.

2 comments:

Magpie N said...

New FNP, I'm so sorry to hear about your cousin/brother. I'm glad that, paradoxically, it's helped you feel peaceful at work. Nothing like a major personal trauma to keep daily life in perspective, I guess. You have my sympathy--very, very much.

Anonymous said...

I'm so sorry. I don't know what else to say. If only life were fair. Or at least more fair.