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It seems to get harder as time goes by...


lisaRN

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My dear Lord, why doesn't this get any easier?

It seems to get harder as time goes by...

I finally got the courage about a month ago to get serious about going back to the wonderful world of work. I sent out resumes and secured a position in a local hospital.

I am a RN (graduated 8 months before my husband Ahmed was diagnosed). I didn’t have much experience before we started down Lung Cancer Speedway. I left work the day Ahmed was diagnosed and haven’t been back since, in spite of the fact that he passed away nearly 16 months ago....

I have been so focused on our now 15 yr old son who was only 13 when his dad was diagnosed and 14 when he died.

My son, Tariq, wants to be a filmmaker. He has been home schooled since kindergarten and started taking college courses at a local 2 yr college when he was 13. Actually, he has been involved with their college for kids program since he was 5 and started adult continuing ed classes when he was 10. But since he was 13 he has taken official adult (for credit) classes and maintains a 4.0 GPA.

Because he is so exceptional, I have been focused on providing him with everything HE needs. He was accepted to New York Film Academy the year Ahmed was sick but couldn't go because life was UPSIDE~DOWN, RIGHTSIDE~UP & EVERY~WHICH~WAY...

Ahmed died December 5, 2004 and life came to a halt for us... suddenly all of the family (from both sides) returned to their lives. Life seemed to be going on without us… I was very depressed and couldn’t think of anything except him.

I decided that I had to pull myself out of it and be strong for my son… I had to focus on what we had and not stop my son’s life because I couldn’t let go of what I no longer had. I didn’t look at anything that talked about cancer, didn’t write about cancer, didn’t go near anything that reminded me of this ugly disease. Until now I still haven’t looked at old family movies or photos. I guess we all deal with things differently but this was how I knew I could get through this.

Tariq received word in the beginning of January 2005 from New York Film Academy that he was welcome to join this year’s program. So I forced the issue with him. He didn’t want to go. I think he felt that if he were to continue his life, having fun and doing things that distracted him from his grief, that in some way he was betraying his father or his father’s memory. Perhaps this was my problem as well.

So I made the arrangements for us to spend the summer in Florida. NYFA’s summer program has many satellite sites, one of which is MGM Studios @ Disney in Orlando. But we weren’t scheduled to leave until the end of May. I wasn’t sure how we would get through the next few months. I had let Tariq take the semester off from classes, so we were strictly home schooling.

Looking back, I think that was a mistake, but he had been through so much. I didn’t want to put too much pressure on him. The thing is, is that I forgot how much of a positive distraction school had been through the whole ordeal. It gave us a reason to get out of the house and not let the days pass us by.

During the next couple of months, my mom had been after us to move to Charlotte, NC at the end of the summer in Florida. I, at some point, relented. We left Connecticut in February and headed south. When I got to Charlotte, my mom took us out to look around at houses. I wanted to buy a house but housing was so expensive in Connecticut. We had looked at 2 bedroom condos before Ahmed passed away that were selling for $695,000.

I couldn’t believe it when I arrived in Charlotte and found beautiful, large homes for less that $200,000. And brand new houses at that! I was hooked. I felt that we would be making a good move. Housing would be more affordable and we would be close to my mom and sister. They sold me.

So I kept looking but perhaps there was too much to choose from or that I didn’t know the area well enough. So I returned to Connecticut with the intention of packing up the house and having the movers take everything to storage. I figured that during late spring and summer we could make a few more trips to Charlotte and eventually we would find something.

We did make several more trips to Charlotte but in August we chose an apartment and kept looking around. Nothing “felt right”. Life is so hard for me now. I continue to want to turn my head to my best friend and talk to him about everything, find out what he thinks. But when I look around for him I am overwhelmed by the fact that he is gone. I get this feeling that comes over me from head to toe. It feels like the day we were diagnosed. It feels like a truck hit me. It feels like the day he died. It feels like I lost my best friend never to see him again. It feels like every inch of me is burning, twisting and turning. It feels like hell. Then I begin to cry.

Finally, in November 2005, we found a townhouse that we like enough to just get it done. I thought that if we moved into our own home with lots of space (2400sf and 2 car garage) we would at last feel “settled”. I don’t know when I became naïve during this treacherous journey. I have always been known to be smart and on top of everything. Suddenly, I feel like a lost soul.

I was cautiously optimistic though. I knew that at least we would be closer to family. Having my mom and sister around a lot would be a tremendous distraction. Only it didn’t happen that way. We officially have the movers move us into our new house and suddenly everyone has their own life to live. No one has time to socialize. No dinners, no lunches, no nothing.

My sister is so busy with her friends and job that she never even returns calls. My mom is constantly running around shopping and socializing and has her own routine. We hardly ever see them. When we do, they are always in a rush. I commented once about it and was told, “I hope you didn’t move here for us…”.

Oh my God. What have I done? I am devastated over all of this. I decided in January 2006 that if Tariq and I maintain our own routines and not depend on anyone for anything then life would stabilize somewhat. I don’t know if I am kidding myself or what, but I KNOW that I would NEVER have chosen to live in North Carolina if it hadn’t been for the desire to be closer to my family and the fact that THEY persuaded me.

I know I started doing the “poor me” thing which I absolutely hate. So I started sending my resume out. I took this position in the hospital, reluctantly. I really wanted a job in mother/baby but they steered me to a cardiac floor instead.

I started orientation there on Monday and by the end of the day I was in tears. I didn’t realize how difficult it was going to be for one. My “first day” back to work since Ahmed was well. Maybe I have held onto the feeling that he is still with me if I don’t change my employment status… I don’t know. I know this is all crazy. I hate the way everything has turned out. I hate North Carolina.

Anyway, at the orientation, they kept having the group of new hires get into small groups and perform skits based on patient care and customer service. I didn’t know how to react. I felt tears coming to my eyes more than once. They showed a clip from “Terms of Endearment”. It was that scene where Debra Winger is dying from cancer in her hospital room and it is time for her pain meds but the nurses keep putting her mother Shirley McClaine off. They told her they would get to it in a few minutes and “sorry ma’am it’s not my patient”. Shirley McClaine gets really outraged from their responses or lack thereof and starts circling the nurses’ station screaming that it was time for the shot, “give my daughter the shot!”

Well when the clip was finished, they asked the group if the mother was justified in her behavior. I was horrified that I was the only one who replied that it was. I said the nurses, for one thing, should not have been so non-chalant about the situation and that everyone reacts to situations differently. I felt that the nurses should have put themselves in the patients/families situation…

I was so angry to hear the other responses. Some said she should have “contained” her anger and acted “professionally”. Some said she should have been more patient. Others said that the patient should have asked for the meds and not the mother. Their whole attitude about how the family members should be treated or are perceived was shocking. Actually, it was appalling.

I felt so bad that I was “one of them”. I didn’t want to be. I hated the way Ahmed was treated during his hospital stays. I hated the way nurses are thinking. I hated feeling like I was alone in my position that the patients and families deserved kindness and understanding. That is our job as the healthcare professional to recognize that everyone deals with illness and difficult situations differently and to allow them the space to be “angry” if they needed to be. I hated the fact that I saw so much lack of compassion then and now. I hated knowing that there are nurses out there that have attitudes that they shouldn’t have and that perhaps shouldn’t even be nurses.

I didn’t realize that I was still so angry.

Now as if that wasn’t enough, my recruiter had misled me re: the unit I would be working on. They decided to put me on a different unit without asking me because they had a “greater need”. Oh and by the way, “your health insurance is going to cost double and cover half of what I told you because I wasn’t aware of the new plans”.

Needless to say, at the end of the day, I decided not to take the position and began my search over again. I have never, ever done that before and felt as though I was copping out. But it just didn’t feel right.

Yesterday, I spoke with a recruiter for a home care agency and have an interview with them tomorrow. I think I need to stick to homecare for now. That is what I was doing before we were diagnosed. It is really a rewarding position. You can act as patient advocate and you really feel like you make a difference. Maybe if I fight for my patients, it will be therapeutic for me. I don’t know. I don’t know anything anymore.

I thought this would get easier…. but it doesn’t… it just gets harder.

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Lisa,

No way did you cop out. You made a healthy decision to decline job that was not a good fit for you.

Is sounds like you would do nicely as a patient advocate. Any positions in that area available?

You might also think about speaking to nursing and other health care groups on how to improve their bedside manners and "put patients first." If you were closer, I am certain our ultrasound group would have you as a speaker at our symposium. You have the unique persepective as a nurse and as a family member. It's a real eye-opener when the health care worker is on the other side of the bed, so to speak, but it teaches us to care for our patients and family members with true compassion.

I'm sorry the move has not gone well. If you were my sister, I can assure you I would have time for you! Have you found a church to join that makes you feel welcome? How is Tariq feeling about the move? Does he want to go to film school still?

It is so good to hear from you, though I wish things were going better for you. Yor grief and mourning are normal, though you might benefit from talk therapy to help you unload some of the anger, etc. You have suffered a huge loss, and don't let anyone tell you you should be "over it" and just heal at your own pace.

Keep us updated and do stay in touch.

Much comfort to you and your son,

Suzie

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Good to see you Lisa.

I'm sorry things have been so uncertain and you are going thru so much right now. My heart breaks just reading your post and what you've gone thru.

I haven't been in your shoes, so I don't have the right words- Just my prayers and lots of them, for you and for Tariq.

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Lisa,

Isn't it good to know that there are people here who understand every word and emotion you have written about? I am glad to see you post.

As for the situation you are in, you still have lots of choices open to you. I am proud you have honored your heart in the decision you have made in not staying where you felt so very uncomfortable. I know that in time you will find the place for you that will give you rewards for what you do so well.

I am sorry the situation with your mother and sister is not what you had thought it would be. I don't have any words of advise on this as I have not been in your shoes. Maybe in time they will come to understand how much you need their love and support in changing your life. I hope your son will get the benefit of having them in his life. Sometimes we have to say it out loud what our needs are and what our dreams are for those closest to us, for them to understand how important they are to us and that we need their help.

Good luck in your journey. It is so good to see you on here again. You have so much to offer in so many ways.

Praying for you and your son that life gets easier.

Shirleyb

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Hi again, Lisa.

What a rough time you've had the past 2+ years. I would be crushed, too, about the family thing. I haven't had that with my family, they have all been wonderful and I don't know what I would do without them. I have with a few friends, though. I guess they are afraid they might hear about my "incident", so I'm out of the loop now.

I am so hoping that your homecare work will give you the comfort and reward you deserve and need. Keeping busy will help you to keep putting one foot in front of the other until one day you will find yourself able to smile and be happy again. It just takes time.

Sending you love and hugs, Lisa!

Peggy

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Lisa,

Good to see you again. I remember so well when you lost Ahmed. You were in there fighting for him until the very end. I admired you for that and I was inspired by your spirit. Again, I admire you for not taking a position where you feel you will be forced to take actions against your own principals. I sincerely hope you can find something that will be meaningful to you there where you can give your best to others. Home care sounds like it just might be ideal for you. Hope things work out. You and Ahmed have come a long way and I wish you every happiness.

Love,

Sue

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Lisa,

I am so sorry you have had such a hard time lately. I know you feel like your world is spinning and rocking. Nothing is turning out as you expected which is especially painful added to your already hurt and broken heart.

I just wanted to tell you to be kind to yourself. Don't expect things to be easier or better if your heart doesn't say it is time yet. You lost the love of your life, and I for one think that a year and a half is not going to return you to normal. There may be days that go by without the tears, but then other days will feel like it was just yesterday. That is normal. The best we can ask for is that in time those days of good will be longer in between the hurt. And no one can determine that length of time and say what is normal or what you should feel.

Take whatever time you need. Tell your family how you feel, and how their persuation and current inaction to your moving has hurt you. Take care of you and take care of Tariq; all else is unimportant.

I will keep you in my prayers.

Carleen

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Oh Lisa, I am sorry you are struggling. I remember when Ahmed was ill and your family came to stay with you to help you with the in-law issues. Most likely they aren't aware of how much you still need them. What about trying to make them part of your life routine somehow. For example, on Mondays you and your mom do lunch or something. We have started to have a family dinner every Sunday and invite my mom--everyone loves it. She gets out and we have some family time together and a great meal.

You will begin to meet new people. It will get easier over time. You've got a great kid to help you keep focused. The home care job sounds wonderful.

And Shirley McClain....been a long time since I saw the movie, but I believe the point was how hard it is to watch someone you love in pain. It was heartbreaking.

So we're hear to listen. Hang in there.

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Lisa:

I wasn't here when you went through your struggles with Ahmed, but it's as if I can feel your hearbreak and pain in what you have related here -- Tariq sounds like a wonderful, caring, bright and talented son and you have alot to be proud of in him.

15 months isn't alot of time since Ahmed's passing for you to expect yourself to "have it all together." I lost my dad almost 12 months ago and I know I haven't even begun the grief process yet (he was my confidant and life mentor in alot of ways; now consider that I am not even dealing with the soul-mate spousal connection you're experiencing.....) -- I too find it getting harder, not easier, since I now have added new life situations on top of that: you have your move to a new community, parenting Tariq in the "new normal" and coaching him to move on with his life, and new job; I have quitting my job, dealing with dad's estate, running our family farm, and mom's dx with LC.

All I can say, is don't be so hard on yourself by expecting yourself to endure being "strong" for anyone other than you.....just do the best you can and let your heart guide you -- actually sounds like you are doing that with your description of your recent new job (and then to change it) decision....right on....go with your heart, that's how you will heal in your life. Never, ever be sorry that you empathized with Shirley in that movie -- you're 'gonna make an exceptional RN to many, many patients with what you have been through.

I hope you find the peace you need and so deserve in your new life in NC and with your family.

Hugs,

Linda

P.S. I lived in NC too for a bit and moved there to start a new job (didn't know anyone): I was in Oxford, NC. Does take some getting used to in it's own right and at times was rather uncomfortable for me. Please feel free to PM me if you need to talk about that culture adjustment or anything else.

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