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Wednesday, March 6, 2013
I did a twenty-four hour call on L&D, submitted the hours for the OB team for on-call stipend, caught up with my billing slips before the deadline for the week to turn them in, spent time on the phone with my sister, saw mom (speaking with her doctor and her case manager), and saw Nana. There was about six hours of sleep (a good night!) in the OB Anesthesia Call Room. But before it was a busy day. I was on my feet from 7 a.m. till 11 p.m.
I had wanted to make this post 'Post-Call 101' but thought against it.
Instead I will share you the coolest things that happened from 'On The Other Side'.
A patient laughed when I was playing with her epidural pump and talking to it. I talk to everything! She and her husband caught me as I was working with it to get it to stop its alarm beep. I said that everything has a personality, and when you live and work with pumps, you have to learn how to fin-a-gle with them to get them to go.
She shared that her mom had had a TPN pump, and even though she wasn't a nurse, she had to 'fin-a-gle' with it too.
'Was it a Kangaroo pump?' I asked. Kangaroo pumps are the kind used for G-tube enteral feeds.
Nope. It was TPN, the real deal. Her mother died of cancer maybe, ten years ago.
A wave of compassion washed over me. 'Mom had'...'died of cancer'...no mom for this important time in her life... I drew up my courage, and opened up about my mom. I asked about end-of-life 'conversations', and how to know when 'your mom is done' because we are grappling with these issues. She smiled and said her mom 'let her know what she wanted' and 'was an old O.R. nurse' from the exact same hospital I volunteered in when I was sixteen. As a matter of fact, when she was born, I may have wheeled her mom and her out to the car as that was one of my duties as a volunteer.
In the O.R., during the section, I saw her mother in the room that connects the two O.R.'s on L&D, looking in. She said, 'I am so happy and proud to share this moment! This is my first grandchild! THANK YOU!' she rubbed her hands with glee and an excited smile.
After the baby was born, and the father was off cutting the cord, I wiped the tears from my patient's face. 'There are happy tears, I hope?' I asked, gently. She nodded yes. I knew why those tears were there. I didn't know how to bring it up. But then inspiration overcame me, and I leaned in, looked her in the eye, and said, 'I don't know how to say it but I feel your mother is here right now. Do you feel her? I think she wouldn't have wanted it any other way than to be in the O.R. for the birth. I feel like she is very excited and proud.' The new mother nodded vigorously, and I could 'sense' that she had been feeling the same energies too, the 'connection', and appreciated my sharing and validating them. The said, 'THANK YOU' and sighed a big sigh of relief.
When it was time for pictures, the dad had a fancy Canon EOS. As I took photos of them meeting the baby, I stepped back to get the anteroom where I had seen mother into the frame. I hope they find a great big orb in them when they process the digital images at home.
I am in the nursing home at Nana Angelina's bed. She is on her left side. Her respiratory rate is high, her breathing rate is shallow, and she is not responsive. I check her pulse, it is thready, and fast. She has stopped wanting to eat. I spoke with the nurse, who says she won't open her mouth to be fed. It doesn't look good. She is in the early stages of dying, as far as I can tell.
I sat. I looked at the woman I knew, and started to cry over her. She didn't know who I am. She had wasted to bones and skin. Both her son and daughter rejected her (mother and she had a strained relationship, and mother said today she wants to 'avoid guilt' and 'concentrate on her own health'--which I do not fault her.). This is the woman who smiles like the sun, and kisses the hands of those who care for her, Nana. I put my head on her shoulder, held her frail body that was still warm, and sobbed.
Memories of our past flooded over me. How she held me until I would fall asleep as a baby. How she worked with me to find something I could eat because I was too thin. How she made risotto for me every day for lunch. And how she would try to fatten me up by sneaking an egg into my 'Orange Julius' and I would always call her on it and make her bring me a new one without the egg.
She opened her eye. The sparkling brown was somehow different. It looked grey around the edges of the iris. What was it? I thought long and hard why it would look 'different'. Then I remembered--it was arcus senilis, the pigmentation change around the ring of the eye in the geriatric patient.
A spirit came to me. A buddhist one. He saw. He said, this is only an illusion. What is real is she is energy, just like you, and she is suffering now. She is deciding when and how to leave her body and move on to the next 'lesson'. What is real is that you will always be together. I know this is hard for you, but this is illusion.
A wave of energy came over me, a wave of consciousness. And I saw much of my tears was guilt at not having been closer to Nana because of my education and my work. I relaxed and sighed in relief.
Immediately next a column of energy went through my entire body. I was in the astral plane. I sensed why I was there, and what I had to do. I had to help Nana cross. I adjusted my energy. 'Gioia! What are you doing here?' Nana's spirit said. We were both 'outside out bodies' technically. I can come and go from mine, and she was between both worlds herself. She greeted me, and looked about thirty years younger.
'I have someone who wants to meet you', I said kindly, and took her right hand in mine. Blessed Mother glided over to me. This was a first. Usually I have to walk to her. I placed Nana's hand in Blessed Mother's, with complete and total trust. I had done this hundreds of times for others. Who else should do this for Nana but me?
But something else was different: Blessed Mother invited me to come, and to hold Nana's left hand. Together we walked through the tunnel. At the other end, I saw Nanu Filippo.
'Filippo! Is that YOU?' Nana cried out, and ran over to him. Blessed Mother looked at me, and we both watched. Nana started yelling at her husband, 'Where have you been? I have been so worried about you!' just like she used to do when he would come home from his work on construction and she was cooking dinner. Nanu had flowers for her, and looked very handsome, very happy, and very quiet to see her. He never once made eye contact with me.
Blessed Mother told me there was a tunnel that would be open between both worlds until Nana could decide about her transition. She thanked me for my help, and gestured to my right.
There was a wall, whiter than white, that looked like the Gates of Heaven I had seen when Father passed. There was an angel of some kind there. He had a message for me, and knelt down (he was T-A-L-L!). I think it was St. Michael. I forget the message, unfortunately, but it seemed helpful and wise. I was impressed. And he said there was not much time for me, and I had to go. I thanked him and everyone profusely for taking good care of Nana for me. Now I recall the message: I was also told that Buddhist and I have an assignment. He was waiting for me. And that Nana would have one of her own too. But because we both have unfinished business due to my training, we would have 'copies' of one another and freedom to 'send those copies' to each other to continue to finish out our relationship and enjoy each other throughout all of time. (I wanted to go back into her kitchen and learn how to make more of her recipes, not just the ones I know).
As I drove home, I felt a tremendous sense of Peace.
With Love in Spirit and in Light, I share with you my Blessings.