Nursing was not my first choice of a career. For the last twenty years, I have been a flight attendant for a major airline. My life was all about adventure. On a flight from Chicago to Munich, my whole future changed when a passenger became sweaty, pale, and said he had chest pains. There were two nurses on that flight, who didn’t hesitate to come forward to help him. They seemed to really know what they were doing, and to really care about him. One of them had an app on her phone that read the passenger’s oxygenation levels. They helped him take his nitroglycerine spray, and talked to him to keep him calm while we landed. They seemed so confident, but I was scared to death. I decided that I want to make that kind of difference too. Their compassion and professionalism inspired me to go back to school to become a nurse. I signed up for pre-requisite courses as soon as I got home, and now I am in my first semester of nursing school.
I haven’t spent much time with my Aunt Lucy, because of my job and now because of school. She called me last week to ask me some questions about medicine Julia was taking for her nausea. Something about the tone in her voice compelled me to drop by for a visit.
Although I am glad I did, now I am really worried about both of them. I am learning about things like being at high risk for falling, and how the environment is so important. Well, my aunt and Julia have five cats, and there are boxes and bags of stuff everywhere. I have to turn sideways to get inside the front door. Julia is sleeping on a fold-out couch downstairs, because she can’t make it up the stairs, and Lucy can’t help her. I don’t know if hospice can be set up, because of the cats and the clutter.
I had to take a nutrition class to get into nursing school. When I visit Aunt Nora and Julia, I get even more worried. Their nutrition is not good. Julia says she has sores in her mouth after chemotherapy that make it hard for her to eat, and make everything taste bad. They both have a hard time grocery shopping. Julia used to love to cook, but now they eat mostly canned or frozen food. I have not seen much in the way of fresh fruits or vegetables. Julia has lost a lot of weight and is very thin. I hope she doesn’t have sores anywhere else on her body.
The most awkward part is Julia’s hygiene. There is only a half bath downstairs, with no shower or bathtub. She takes what she calls “spit baths” from the sink. Also, Julia won’t let Lucy help her clean up at all … she says “a partner shouldn’t have to do that”. The downstairs bathroom is also where the cats’ litterbox is. Julia used to clean the litterbox every day, but she has a hard time doing it now. I don’t think Aunt Lucy is doing it either.
I know Julia wants to be at home, especially near the end. I understand that, but I don’t think it’s safe.