Saturday, June 10, 2006

Check Mark - Done!

Well at least one thing is now knocked off my list of things to do... I have updated my links - there is a new category. This category is entitled Places to Learn and Do... I know not very creative, but I figured Go - Sign Up or I'll kick your butt just didn't flow well.

In all seriousness the three links that are listed were the best that I could find, that didn't drum medical information down your throat, but were able to speak to everyone. At least everyone in the US... if you're in other countries I am not familiar with the laws so these may be stepping stones for you.

So since I'm on a safety/info kick... brain injuries (concussions to major head injuries) are a leading cause of death and disability worldwide. A lot are preventable... wearing helmets while biking or riding a motorcycle is a perfect example of this. It's not like it hasn't been drummed into our conscious if you ride a bike you should wear a helmet. I've seen someone die from a regular bike accident. His organs were donated. He was in his 20's. I get angry when I see parents riding bikes with their kids - the kids have their helmets on... the parents have nothing. What kind of example is that setting for the kids? When I'm out of mom and dad's eye sight I'll take it off. Not to be the voice of doom, but that's exactly what happens - the kid decides not to wear the helmet while skating, biking, rock climbing, etc and boom falls down - hits his/her noggin and then it's a totally different child than the one you had a few hours prior... or you lose your child.

Most of the things I'm passionate about are near and dear to my heart for reasons... Head injuries are this way because my oldest brother was almost killed after a horrific accident involving a car. J is a little different. This injury occurred when he was under 5 and as my mom who feels guilty about the accident though it was not her fault and her ex husband have both said that J is not the same as he was before the accident. I never knew him before the accident (he's 14 years older than me) so once I became a nurse and started working with head injured patients I thought - hmm these guys are acting just like my brother does. J has some common sense issues, short term memory issues, reading issues, and a very short fuse. J is a great man, great brother, and I love him, but he drives me batty at times. I say this because he does... he calls and leaves messages for my mom that start with... "Hi Mom it's your son J... I'm sorry I haven't called, just checking blah blah blah blah, I'm sorry etc" I'm sorry comes out of his mouth about 15 times in a 1 minute conversation. D asked if my mom beat him as a child... she didn't. She did wash his mouth out with soap, but that's a story for another time. No one knew what kind of lasting effects his head injury would have and no one bothered to educate J or my mom about them... it would have made their lives so much easier if they had been provided education, but at the time there wasn't that knowledge. If I can prevent one family from having those same issues as mom and J then I accomplished what I wanted to.

Organ donation... well that's tricky. My dad after having chemo one of his kidney's was fried and the other was functioning at about 80%. Fortunately he didn't need a transplant, however we talked about the what if's, and I would be the only possibility of a living donor because my dad was an only child and I am an only biological child, we also have the same blood type so the possibility was there that I would be a match. I would have done it in a heartbeat if it meant that he'd have 1 more week, month, year, whatever. It never came to that his 80% kidney was functioning great. However I and my husband are both signed up as organ donors and have broached the topic of doing live donation if the opportunity ever presented itself.

Advanced Directives - well that's simple... I see so many people come in without them, then they aren't able to make those decisions for themself and their families are left going - What would he/she want done? Doctors pressing families to trach or put in a feeding tube and come to find out that's not what the patient would want. Preventing that is something that I want to do... I want everyone to make their wishes known. I don't like facing my own mortality, but lets face it... we all are going to die sometime - lets do it on our own terms rather than having people guessing. We can keep people alive for an extremely long time... and our definition of alive versus your definition of alive are way different.

When I talk about advanced directives I think of a patient that I had a few years ago... I remember his name R... he had the silkiest silver hair. He had been diagnosed with cancer but was in the hospital with congestive heart failure and pneumonia... he was modest (never let me see his parts very discreet) He was miserable, he knew that he'd done this to himself (smoking = lung cancer), didn't want any sympathy, was exceedingly polite and sweet, and he felt bad for his current wife because he felt she hadn't signed up for this. He was a flirt... in a completely benign way. The last night of my stretch on he was tired. He felt as if he was nearing the end. He had a pacemaker and he talked with me, cried with me, thanked me and gave me a hug for taking care of him. He asked to have his pacemaker turned off. He'd had enough. He died on his own terms, with his family by his side - understanding why he needed to go at that particular time. The doctors followed his wishes and it was a peaceful death with hospice. I'll always remember him, his room number, and his full name. He made a lot of nurses cry... he was just a nice man who taught us about end of life care and how to provide it and how we'd want things to be handled if we were in the same boat.

See even the sad patients bring a smile to my face... I think of his hair and I smile, it was silky and beautiful color. My husband when I tell him these stories smiles and shakes his head... I'm in a trauma/surgical/neuro/burn intensive care unit for goodness sake don't I have blood and guts stories... yes - yes, I do, but some of the people that leave there mark do so for different reasons and most of the times it's not the patients, but their families that leave a mark on me... because sometimes I can't help the patient, but I can help the family.

So go - check out those sites and hopefully learn something. I know browsing through the three websites I learned something new.


Lorem ipsum said...

Amen on all three.

Every time I go to the hospital they ask me if I have a Living Will. I know what I want, but I never fill out the brochure. I have one in my car. Thanks for the reminder - you are one who knows!

Becky said...

I am praying so hard that you just miscalculated wrongly and this stays "not negative." All fingers and toes crossed too over at "The watched pot."