Maintaining eye contact during critical care…and more..

The eyes are the window to the soul, I heard said. I believe it in some sense.

I used to do home health care for a while a couple of years out of COBU. I had this one lady I took care of whose cancer was rapidly spreading.

She had throat cancer. I was pregnant with my first daughter and moved in with her family to provide round the clock care. It was only supposed to be for 2 weeks as she was dying.

She choked several times a day and I would think she died and after a minute or so she’d gasp and lunge up at me!

It was terrifying but I felt God put me there to be with her as she died. I dont know why because she was so decrepid from the disease that after tending to her I would have to go to the bathroom and throw up!

The poor woman was only 48 lbs and 5 ft 1.. and 71 yrs old. Her son was a widower, wholost his wife to cancer a few years earlier. His foster son was 14 ADHD and Jewish.

I had to run the house. I just broke up with my fiance sicne he wanted me to get an abortion. I didnt want to go back to COBU as that would have made them think they were right about me all along as now I indeed had that reputation they falsely accused me of a few yrs earlier.I was living a condemned life!

I felt that even if I was going to hell for leaving Cobu and backsliding, that at least I could do some good, which is why I took this terrible job… I was deceived when leaving the COBU being told that I could not serve God apart from being in their BORG…

The devil is such a liar! I may have lived under self condemnation, but Jesus was with me all the time!It took me a while to get my bearings after being frred from the control of COBU.

The job was supposed to last up to 2 wks. A home health agency from the hospital sent me.

I never took care of a dying person before. I had to practice with an orange how to give injections. I was shown the medications chart and duties.

Every day , several times a day, she’d start gasping and choking violently and then pass out.Iwould think she died and a minute or so would pass and she’d bolt and gasp and start breathing again.

The look of terror on her face and my hopelessness to do anything about it prompted me to seek further help for her. Not all dying people want to die!

When she had one of these ‘fits’, it was as though someone held a pillow over her face suffocating her and then she’d revive only to wait for the next episode.

What a terrifying way to die!No one should have to suffer like this…

I asked her son if there was any way to do anything for her. I said the doctors have to have something they can do.

It wasnt the cancer although that caused her to be where she was at , it was her inability to keep breathing! Her son was at the end of his coping ability and said I could speak to her doctors for her.

She told me that she was 71 yrs old and had a friend who was 98. She said , “if” should could only breathe that she could handle the pain…She had this throat cancer for 10 yrs already.

At the doctors, I told them that she needed a trache. They initially refused saying it was only a matter of days so why put her throught it and that the proceedure itself could kill her. I argued that we should let the cancer kill her , not suffocation 10 times a day!!!
I called a few other hospitals and talked with three and the third hospital said to bring her in.

Her son said that even if she could get the trache that they couldnt afford the skilled nursing care she would require and so I made a vow that I would take care of her for the rest of her life if she had the trache. [
After a few days in critical care, the hospital staff taught me how to take care of her trache. She already had a gastostomy that I tube fed her through a long tube and she had a foley catheter in her bladder that I emptied several times a day. Her injections were alternated between meds every 2 hours around the clock.

She would sometimes ask for steak and her son would give it to her, but she couldnt eat it as she couildnt swallow anuything. She’d chew on it for flavor and spit it out.

Then I’d get a can of Ensure and slowly pour it through her tube to her stomach. She’d say when she burped that she hated its flavor. I asked if she could have anything other than that and was told there were no dietary restrictions except that she couldnt swallow, so anything that fit through the tube was aceptable.

I got a food processor and began creaming food for her much like woull be done for a baby. I would then dilute it with milk or water til it was thin enough to go through the feeing tube.When she burped she felt satisfied! Little things can mean alot when done out of compassion.~

I never did this type of stuff before, but she started getting stronger and gaining weight. Where as she was 48 lbs when I took the job she continued to gain weight til she was 78 lbs!

She was walking again and even tried cleaning the kitchen one day, lol as she was feeling more human again and could breathe… She also trusted me as I always looked her straight in the eye when speaking to her or taking care of her. I made it personal, at my own emotional expense, but she needed that, as her famiy was beginning to stay away from her room more and more.

Helping her get that trache was the right thing to do. It was now Christmas and she got through another year and was grateful. My pregnancy was progressing as well as I was due in March. I had no further contact with my baby’s father.

Her son and I became close as I cared for his mother and home and he proposed marrying me after she’d die, so I thought I would accept that offer later, but was preoccuppied with caring for his mother and home.

He was very depressed as one could imagine. Initially he was glad to see her getting better, but at the same time he was waiting for it to be all over. He got to where he couldn’t cope as New Years passed.

One night he tried to commit suicide. I was 7 mos pregnant and he was in his family room drinking Gin and holding a loaded 12 gauge shot gun! He had it standing between his legs with it pointed at his chin as he downed the Gin.

I tried to reason with him and get the gun away. We struggled a few tmes and fell over. One time the gun, with his finger on the trigger was aimed right at my belly!.. As he got more drunk and yet then I realized I couldnt stop him the way I was already trying.
Then I got mad! I told him off! I said ”Fine” if you want to kill yourself, but I have enough to do around this house without having to clean up your splattered blood!!!

And I dont want you to kill my baby!! Do you want to kill my baby??? … he said No

I told him then that IF he really wanted to kill himself to ‘GO OUTSIDE AND DO IT IN THE YARD’ , so I wouldn’t have to clean up the mess…as I knew I had to get him out of that basement do I could enlist help since he wouldnt let me use the phone.
He said Ok, still clutching the shotgun and left the basement… going outside…

I quickly called 911 and told them to hurry up as he had the loaded shotgun and wanted to kill himself. …Then I ran outside and continued talking to him til they arrove.

He was saying that he was going to point it at them to make them kill him and that would settle everything. He said I could keep the house and to just take care of Momma and the foster son…and the dogs…Trixie and Maxx…

AS the police pulled up and he began to stand..I grabbed hold of the shotgun and pulled it away from him

The police took him into custody and brought him to the hospital, but he was later released as they chalked it up to him being drunk and family stress with his mom’s condition.

The police held onto his firearms til he proved he wasnt going to use them to hurt himself or anyone else…Had I walked away from him in that basement that night two children would never have been born, so God wasnt finished with him yet either!

He began going to counselling a few nights a week. I talked with him about Jesus and the Cobu and he would say he believed but didnt have any interest in going to any churches, but we had bible conversations.

I began reading the bible to his mother while caring for her and telling her about salvation.

She had been living terrified for so long afraid of death that she fought valiently.

Then one day she had a coughing fit and her outer canula, the one that stays in the throat popped out. I had to call and ambulance and bring her to the ER . I was trained to handle the inner canula and to remove it to suction her lungs but not the outer one .She needed it replaced after coughing hers out, I brought her to the hospital and the ER doc was trying to put it in and she was freaking out.

As he tried to push it in he was making her throat bleed and she kept pushing him away and pointing to me and reaching for me. He was frustrated since the outer canula was one of the smallest but her troat was so tiny. He just wasnt trying to insert it while she was exhaling and so he couldnt get it in and she wouldnt let him.

I stood by at the end of the bed and she kept reaching for me, he looked up and asked if I knew how to do this.. and I said “yeah” so he let me and I went over , looked into her eyes and said ” Now breathe slowly and we can do this…” Then as she would exhale I started to slip it in gently and it went right in. She relaxed and it was done.

A month later I went into labor and had to stay with her til her son came home from work. I ws with her for 25 hours of my labor caring for her between my own contractions!

I went into the hospital and they induced me and 10 hours later I had my daughter. After a day of rest, I left her in the hospital and went back to work. My daughter had jaundice and had to stay in a couple of days. I brought her home when the hospital called.

Elizabeth, the lady I cared for was on alot of meds and mistook me for her daughter in law and thought my baby was her grandchild.

She was very happy to see a baby around the house. I was glad the pregnancy was over but it only increased my work load. I was taking care of her , a teenager with ADHD, a house , 2 dogs and a guy who was a basket case.

She lived til my baby was 3 1/2 mos old .

She wanted to see the cherry blossoms on the tree outside her bedroom window one more time. I sat by her side reading the bible to her and asked her every day if she wanted to pray but instead wanted me to pray for her.

Then one day she allowed me to pray with her a sinners prayer and acknowleded each part in agreement as she couldnt speak with the trache. She got saved and was at peace…

Her physical condition deteriorated more and she had to go back in the hospital, after the cherry blossoms bloomed.

I stayed by her side 24 hours but had to go home every so many hours to feed the baby and then would return to the hospital. My sisters came to babysit for me and care for the house and my foster son.

It was a little after noon on June 14th 1978 and I was praying with her and staring deeply into her eyes, as she clung to my hand and I reassured her that she was saved and that she could go in peace as Jesus was waiting for her on the other side.

I told her ‘it as okay’ to let go…as she so desperately struggled to hang on…She had over the passed month lost weight again as the cancer had spread to her stomach and could barely open her eyes. She fell asleep and I left.I told the nurses to call me immediately if anything happened.

They called me at 3pm. Her son was mowing the lawn. I told him it was ‘time’…

Some patients just are on so much meds that they are so easily disoriented and they calm down with a face they recognize. When I took care of cancer patients I always maintained total eye contact.They need that yet alot of nurses and doctors forget it. When you are stoned out on morphine, you get split second hallucinations and panic easily when eye contact isn’t maintained.
Somehow if they can focus on your eyes it gives them a sense of security.

Several years ago I was in the hospital after almost having my leg amputated from gangrene. I refused permission for the amputation so they debrided it. The poison however went through my entire blood stream and I was critically ill. I was in bad shape with the gangrene, I was terrified.

I was awake for about 48 hours at one point and thought if I went to sleep I would die. I had so many drugs in my system and the pain was hellish still,like musical notes that suddenly would get real loud.When OI would turn my head in a slight direction sometimes I felt like I was falling down the Grand Canyon or out of an exploding plane.

This one nurse was taking care of me and tried to talk to me to get some sleep and I told her that if I fell asleep I was going to die. I was on all the machines- the beeping was constantly changing ,as the infection went through my blood stream after the surgery –

I had a morphine drip along with Lorcets, Oxycotin and Phenergan and when they would clean out my debrided area they’d give me a booster of morphine before the proceedure which they did every 2 hours for 4 weeks!

Anyway, I was freaked and she just held my hand and looked into my eyes and told me ,”NOT ON M Y WATCH!!! YOU WILL NOT DIE!! I PROMISE!”….She maintained eye contact which brought me back from falling and I began to feel like I was back on the ground again.

Its when doctors or nurses dont maintain eye contact that you feel like ‘they cant look at me’ so I must be dying… and panic sets in. That nurse was so good I will never forget her compassionate face. I was able to sleep for a while that night.

She promised not to ignore my beeping machine if it alarmed while I was sleeping. I don’t even remember her name, but I will never forget her face!



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