Tina McDaniel, RN Case Manager for Heartland Hospice serving Augusta had an experience that reminded her how plans can change and the privilege of being there with her patients as they near their end-of-life journey.
She recalls, “I had other plans that day but a call came into the office that this patient didn’t look good. The wife was distraught and not very clear. I was asked to visit this patient and his family first before going to my other appointments.”
When Tina arrived the patient was in pain, struggling to breath and very scared. She gave him his medicine and made him comfortable in his bed. “I told him that I would be with him as long as he needed me. I sat at his bedside at eye level and told him, just look at me,” explained Tina.
Tina continued to talk quietly to the patient while holding his hand and keeping him calm. At one point, he spoke two words to her, “thank you.” His family later told Tina those were the first words he had spoken in the last few days. She never left his bedside and was with him as he took his last breath. Tina explains, “He comforted me just as much as I comforted him. He also reminded me that sometimes schedules and plans are not the most important part of my job.”
“I firmly believe we are put exactly where we are meant to be and I was supposed to be there with him. Death is as much a part of life as being born. Someone transitioning deserves the same love and compassion as a new baby entering the world. This patient shared his last hours of life with me. That is truly the highest honor and privilege I could ever hope for,” added Tina.