My Silent Words to the Nurses

She may have heart failure, but her ears still work.

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This woman is my mother-in-law. She’s raised 3 strong, handsome and good sons, and buried one. She’s laid one of her five daughters to rest, and the other four would, and do, anything for her. She is cherished by nineteen grandchildren and 27 great grandchildren. She watched her husband, and father of her children, take his last breath on this earth, then laid him in the ground.

She is strong. She is proud. Give her some dignity. At this stage of her life, dignity is a distant memory. Do you think it’s easy having to let everyone take care of you, when you were the one taking care of them? As you provide care for her, treat her as you would your mother or grandmother. Be compassionate, empathetic, and kind.

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When you are in her room, and you repeatedly tell the other care providers, “she’s very heavy, much heavier than I thought”, or “she had a diaper on when she arrived”, she can hear you. Do you know why she’s heavy? It’s because her heart is not working the way it should. She is full of fluid, in her lungs too, which is why we are here. Yes she’s heavy, but a month ago she was thin. She wasn’t wearing a “diaper”, she was wearing ladies Depends underwear. Do you know why? Her heart is not working properly and she is very weak. It takes time to get to the bathroom. How do you think your words make her feel. As you situate her in her room, give her dignity. Cover her legs, she is a modest woman.

Remember, her ears still work.

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Mom with her son, my husband

Have you ever not been able to get air, to breath. Have you ever felt the panic of gasping for air, as your lungs refuse to take it in. Try it sometime. Hold your breath for as long as you can, then hold it longer. Do you feel like you will pass out? She has pneumonia, fluid build up and heart failure and everything that goes along with it. She didn’t ask for this, and she doesn’t want to be here, but here she is. All I ask is that you give her dignity at this stage of her life.

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Mom with my grandson, who she helped raise.

She’s not just another patient. She’s the woman who raised my husband into the wonderful and good man he is today. She held my babies and helped me to be a good wife and mother. She cared for my grandchild from infancy to grade school. He had recently had open heart surgery, but she took him in without fear. She loves the Lord her God and her children, grandchildren and great grandchildren with all her heart. Her mind is as sharp as a new razor. So as you provide care for her… remember…

…her ears still work.

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My mother-in-law and me