Monday, June 23, 2008

Ruth

My favorite patient is dying. I have visited "Ruth", 93 years old and forever spunky, every week for the past year and a half. Our visits are usually in the 2-3 hour range and we cover all manner of topics. She's shared her amazing life story with me and dispensed her wisdom. One of her big wishes is for me to meet a nice guy and settle down- once she's approved of the guy, of course. Every week I have to give her a progress report on my dating life- and believe me, she's the only patient that gets away with this!

I was planning on visiting Ruth as usual this afternoon. Vickie, her nurse, called me about noon to let me know that Ruth had had a change in condition over the weekend. When I arrived, I didn't know what to expect. Ruth has had many ups and downs since she has been a hospice patient; we have expected her to die a few times only for her to bounce right back. In fact, the family jokes that I can bring her back from the brink, as she really has perked up at the sound of my voice. The moment I saw her, I knew that she wouldn't be bouncing back this time. She briefly woke up and smiled when she saw me but quickly fell back asleep. I spent the afternoon at her bedside, holding her hand and comforting her daughter. We shared our favorite stories about Ruth. At one point I took my hand away to drink some water. Ruth opened her eyes and asked "Where'd you go?" and reached her hand back towards me. I reassured her that I was there and held her hand once more. She was comforted and fell back asleep. Later on she asked me "So you found yourself a boy?" Her daughter and I had been laughing and reminiscing earlier about Ruth's matchmaking hopes for me. There's the proof that hearing is the last sense to go! I told Ruth about my latest date. Her eyes remained closed but I could tell from her facial expression that she is quite hopeful about this prospect.

It was very hard to leave the house today. It was very hard to say goodbye to Ruth. I don't know if she'll make it through the night or not. As much as we hospice workers prepare for these moments, there are certain patients that steal a piece of your heart. Ruth is that patient for me. She has told me in the past that I am her favorite hospice team member. It's rare that I trump a nurse in the line of favorites! I rarely cry during patient's final moments but I could not keep back the tears when I told Ruth goodbye. I will never forget her or her family. I know that I made a difference in Ruth's life and that means everything.

1 comment:

jen said...

What a great story!! God is using you in many ways at your job!