Monday, November 5, 2007

Tears in the Corner

I have to write today! I have to write because if I don't, I might be so profoundly sad that I will break down into a mess of tears. Not normal or even usual for me. My last two shifts were really tough. I admitted a guy that was in total manic crisis. Wow - it was horrible. All I could do is think about how terrible this must be for him. Flights of thought, picking at the walls and just generally not on this planet with us all.

Perhaps we are the ones that are not on the planet and "they" are the normal people. Ever wonder what they see? Do they know within themselves what is happening and are they totally powerless to control it? Wow - the mind - an amazing and yet very scary place.

Here he was - a beautiful, intelligent and obviously caring man - totally consumed by this terrible psychosis. There were no beds in the psych facility - he was going to be staying with us for a little while. Management of a manic is not an easy task, but it left me feeling profoundly sad as I cared for this man.

Maybe my emotional connection was related to how I see my middle son. He has this tendency and I hate that he has to live like this. It has impacted his entire life. He spends a lot of time consumed with making correct choices and doing the right thing. For most of us - these choices and decisions come very naturally, but for him - he has to work at it day after day after day! I love him very much - but there are days when he stretches my capacity at love. He tries though and he tries very hard to do the right things and make the right decisions. I am so proud of him, but he has a hard time knowing or maybe accepting that the people in his life know that he works hard at being a good human being.

Back to this patient. I had such a connection to him. Perhaps I felt his pain or had a higher level of empathy. Not sure, all I know is I felt for him. Not something I do very often as a nurse. Been in the field for too long to have direct feelings. I certainly feel for the newly diagnosed cancer patient or the patient dying, but this was different. Can't place my finger on it, but I know that these feelings helped me to have a higher level of compassion for the guy. I keep going back to how terrible this must be for him.

Maybe - just maybe he really does not even understand what he is doing. Even when he is managed, perhaps there is no recognition of his profile. His family is devoted and they were at his bedside as much as they could be. Do we enable these people? Enable them by accepting their inability to make better choices? Enable them by saying it is ok to have 15 jobs a year or worse yet - have no job and live off the family? Is this really enabling or is this allowing a disabled person the ability to have a home and a place to rest his head? I can't answer that. Half of me wants to say we probably enable far too much, but the logical part of me says that if they are disabled and can't hold a job - we have to help. What am I going to do if I find myself in this situation with my son? Let him sleep on the streets? Probably not, but will I be enabling him or helping him?

Profoundly different for me to have been impacted like this and to have just curious thought about a patent's condition. I'll end with a note - what do you think? Have you ever been impacted by a patent's condition to such a point that is made you different?


  1. Tears in the corner, what an approriate title for this blog. Yes, I have been affected by some of the people I have taken care of but none has impacted me as this lady I have been recently asked to care for. Right now I'm working as a CNA, why you ask? Because it's my choice, you see as a CNA you have time to sit and talk to, caress, massage and just be there for your patient, unlike as a nurse not enough time for that. So, each time I come to this lady's house to help her shower or prepare a meal for her or change her sheets on her bed, I get to see the deteroration of her physical body although her mind is sharp, but slow. My lady has been struck with Parkinsons Disease, you might say, not so bad, but as I watch her deterorate my heart breaks and my spirit is saddened. She is a lovely person, because she has good insurance and can still live at home, she is more fortunate than a lot of others that have to live in a nursing home, and, well we won't go in that direction. Her husband is someitmes not very nice to her, she tells me this, he puts on a good front with us caretakers but when they are alone, well, I say perhaps he has a hard time coping with her disease and is handling the best he can. She has fallen a few times while in his care, the poor man is 83 and very independent and so naturally tries to do it all. She's a little younger than he and, well, someday it will be just him and the little doggie WooWoo.

  2. As a nurse in mental health I can understand how your day went. A patient in a manic crisis is extremely frustrating and until those meds kick in, they can be dangerous.
    I am also in a returning program for my masters with BSN@home through UW Milwaukee. I also hope to teach. Good luck with your studies.-Barbara