Friday, June 1, 2012

Taking off your nurse's cap

    I felt an advantage being a nurse, acting as my mothers advocate as her advanced dementia required her being a LTC facility resident.  I was her daughter and loved her, and part of that love was monitoring her care, reviewing her medication orders, labs and watching for skin breakdown, fall risks, etc.  I was involved with her care plan and acted as her primary contact and power of attorney. I explained her medical issues to my siblings. I knew her medical history better than anyone.
     I had a history of caring for my mom since my fathers death 10 years before.  My father's last words to me being "take care of your mother". And so I did. I moved her near me and then in with my family  until her dementia made it unsafe for her to ever be alone. I worked full time on a telemetry unit, night shift and my husband a hospital pharmacist. I visited her frequently in LTC and took her to all doctor's appointments.
      I understood when it was time for hospice care and explained it to my brother and sister.   My way of demonstrating love to my mother did not change when she was actively dying. I spoke to her, held her and brushed her hair, but I also assisted in turning her, fixing her pillows, listened to her heart and lung sounds and asked for heel protectors etc. I helped bathe her because I had been doing so for years.
   The hospice social worker admonished me for being a nurse instead of a daughter, and told me I should let others be the nurse now. He told me it was time to "take off my nurse's cap" and just be a daughter. This went against the grain for me.  I don't think I was being the control freak nurse/daughter. ( We have all dealt with those before) I tried to explain that providing care to my mother was how I loved her.  I felt self conscious asking about her vital signs or medication doses after that.  After she passed I relented and let the nursing techs bathe her. Often I have thought back and wished I had bathed her that last time.
   Isn't it possible to be a good daughter and still think like a nurse?  Was my behavior any different than any other caregivers?  How do you separate the roles?

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