Theme Nurse From The Field

There is no doubt that the theme here has frequently been presenting AZBON, AG,Adm Law Ct activities in review. The nature of real nursing may have escaped some of us. So to identify that we are nurses this publication is about the ability of a seasoned nurse remaining a pivot point, with directional change, in the lives and hearts of those touched by said individual, and individuals in the patient care area.


There is so much I want to write, but so much has been written about the same subject by many people, many different ways.  The bottom line, death is the final journey without a return ticket.

I recall a moment in time when I was a  graduate nurse working in Fort Worth on a medical surgical floor.  It was a lifetime ago, 1981.   A tall lanky man with dark hair and pleasant features walked up to me with a somber expression on his face.  He said, “I need to talk to somebody.  Somebody who possibly could understand.”  I looked at him and stopped what I was doing and asked him what was wrong. He said, “I have been diagnosed with lung and throat cancer and they want me to come in for radiation, chemotherapy and surgery.  I don’t  really know what I should do”.  Needless to say, I was stunned and did not have an immediate reply.  I scrutinized  his face long and hard and came to conclusion he wanted an honest answer.  After a few minutes of silence, I found the answer I thought he was searching for. “Sir”, I said.  “In all honesty,  I can not tell you what to do.  However, I can tell you what I would do.  I would liquidate any and all of my assets and sell anything I had of value and take the trip of a lifetime that I could afford. If you enjoy fishing, then maybe a fishing excursion  is what you should think about.  If you have children and are worried about leaving them anything, don’t worry about it.  Being a good father and educating them is all they need to be successful  and survive in the world.   I am not telling you to do this, but this is exactly what I would do if I found myself in your position.”  He looked at me for a minute and then smiled and said, “Thank you.”  He then shook my hand and left.  I never saw him again and heard from another nurse he never returned for his scheduled treatments.

Fast forward to 2002.  My husband Mark was diagnosed  with multiple  diagnosis during this time, including end stage liver disease. The news hit us hard and we were silent on our ride back home.  I couldn’t think of anything to say. Not one word came to mind that could ease the shock of the news we both heard.  Half way through the ride, I remembered my conversation with the patient in Fort Worth.  I looked at Mark and said, “Let’s sell our house and the ten acres on the river.  Let’s go on a long road trip until the money is gone.  We will take the ultimate vacation we put off for years. Mark  was driving and pulled his eyes away from the road and said, “You would sell the house so we could do this?”    I told him the house and all we acquired  meant nothing without him. We sold the house in town and ten acres on the river four weeks of each other.  We left Llano on October 2002, took a long leisurely trip across the Texas coast, to Louisiana,Mississippi, Alabama, Florida and ended at Key West where we lived and partied for 2 1/2 years none stop.  We packed up and moved to Galveston  in 2005. He died  in 2008.  He lived 5 1/2 years longer than the doctor initially diagnosed. him.  I had quite a few friends and family ask me why I sold the house and land because they said they would never do it.  I told them if I had more money and more assets, I would have liquidated them too.  When Mark died, my life was over as I once knew it, and if I did not sell the house and land, I would have been miserable and sad because our house was not a home without him.  The land meant nothing without him because there was nobody who enjoyed hunting, fishing, camping, swimming, and just sitting on  the rocks  overlooking the Llano River  than both of us together.

On June 2017 I went to Audie Murphy VA in San Antonio and it was was confirmed I have a mass on my neck, tongue and thyroid.  The word cancer was not mentioned because the doctor wanted to have a needle guided biopsy done in radiology.  I was  a nurse long enough to know that biopsies are the gold standard used in confirming diagnosis.  Many doctors  will not mention the word cancer without the confirmation of a biopsy. .  I also know that biopsies  are needed to formulate treatment plans.  Even though the doctor did not mention cancer, he mentioned that radiation, chemo and surgery would probably be needed in combination.  I told him I refuse treatment, and would think about consenting to a biopsy. Driving back home, my thoughts were back  on the patient in Fort Worth.  I was going to take the same advise I offered him.

I have learned a few things in the short time since the tests confirmed I have three masses.  I learned that when you tell your friends you have cancer, they drop off the radar like flies. One friend, out of lack of anything to say, stated, “I am sorry you have cancer, but I am glad it isn’t me.”   I responded telling her I too was glad it was not her. The same friend said a week later, “If you decide to blow your brains out, please call me so I can say goodbye.”  I told her I would take that into consideration. My point is if anyone reads this and is going through a terminal diagnosis, do not be surprised by many of your family and friends missing in action or disappearing.  Do not take it personally or let it upset you.  Just remember this, you entered this world by yourself, and you will exit  by yourself.  There is an old legend that older  or sick elephants instinctively  remove themselves from the herd and find a place to die alone.  In my mind, this is a dignified death.