I was told in shift report that she was “pleasantly confused.” Because I know these patients always need an extra careful eye, I went to her room first as I began my day.
She was lying there so peaceful in her sleep, not stirring at all as I neatened things up next to her bed. I watched for a moment – following the rise and fall of her chest – and decided to just let her be for a while. I knew we would be spending a lot of time together during the course of that day, so I hurried off to get as much as I could done with my other patients BEFORE she woke up.
When I made it back around to her again a little while later, I found her wide awake and just smiling to herself. When I walked into the room, her face lit up like a fast sunrise as our eyes connected. I couldn’t help but return her grin – it was just so infectiously joyful. And adorable. This woman was devastatingly adorable.
I introduced myself and asked if I could sit with her for just a moment. She loved that idea and patted the bed next to her.
We talked a bit and, as I explained our plan for the day, she just gazed at me adoringly. I knew she hadn’t really comprehended anything I had just told her, so when I asked her how I could help her best that day, I was very interested in hearing what her answer would be.
She just looked into my eyes and very seriously replied, “I love you so much. Just so, so, so much. You are my Hunnybunny.”
Now, I realize that she’s confused and probably calls EVERYBODY her Hunnybunny, but at that moment … in the quiet of that room … I absolutely melted. This endearing little lady had me absolutely charmed with the way she looked at me … my heart completely seared by the sincere tenderness of her words.
Yep. She definitely had me hooked.
I spent two days caring for this woman and, I admit, as sweet as she was, it wasn’t always easy. Some of our normal (but necessary) nursing interventions can be less than pleasant to ANY patient, but to someone who is struggling with the demons of dementia, things can quickly become overwhelming and absolutely terrifying.
As much as I would try to gently talk her through everything we were trying to do, she would still enter into periods of uncontrollable, inconsolable panic.
The interesting thing was that just as quickly as these terrors would begin, they would also end. Not even a residual sniffle would remain, nor a hint of resentment. Nothing. She was just done. Over it. As if it had never even happened.
She would just suddenly look at me with her funny grin and say, “You’re my Hunnybunny – I just love you so, so much.”
And we would be back in our state of mutual bliss.
I had gotten pretty used to these ups and downs by the end of our second day together. I had figured out that she just didn’t like change – not positions, not clothes, not anything – so I was prepared for the battle that would ensue as we were getting her ready for discharge back to her nursing home.
Let’s just say that it was loud.
What I can’t stop thinking about, though, was what she said right in the middle of her terrors. She calmed down for just an instant, looked at me and said, “You just don’t know what this is like. You just don’t know. You don’t.”
And she’s right.
I still cannot get her words out of my head. We have no idea. With any of our patients. Our perception of their struggles is just so incredibly limited. No matter their diagnosis or their mental cognition. We just don’t know what it’s like. We don’t.
Lord, help us as nurses to remember that.
But, really, this applies with ANYBODY, right? On the street, at work, in the grocery store, at school, at home … anywhere … our perception of their struggles is just so incredibly limited. We really just don’t know what it’s like for them. We just don’t know. We don’t.
Lord, help us as HUMANS to remember that, as well. Give us your eyes, Lord – give us your eyes.
Thanks for growing with me.
This awesome song “Give Me Your Eyes” by Brandon Heath was going through my head as I was writing this post. Please consider taking a minute and giving it a listen. We all need this message. We do. We really do.
“Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience.” (Colossians 3:12)