Friday, February 6, 2009

Friend or patient?

This week I took care of my friend's husband. He died yesterday morning when neither of us were there, which was probably the way it should have been, as he was such an independent person. It was a first for me, to be in charge of the care of someone I know.

I didn't know him well, just through my friend. That helped, in a way, to take the liberties that we must in order to ask the questions and do the exam. It was a little awkward at first, asking all the questions, getting the history, delving so deeply into his personal life. My friend is a nurse, and she understood what I needed and why, and that made it easier. In some ways, she was caring for me. Then the physical exam, which is intrusive at best.

In many ways, he was no different from many people I have cared for. The diagnosis was not unusual; the end of life course was typical and predictable. He was happy that it was me and not a stranger managing his care. What a blessing that I could give him the peace of mind that he seemed to need, that he was surrounded by friends, and friends of friends, to his last breath.

And people wonder how I can do this work.

1 comment:

  1. I can very much appreciate your feeling about caring for family members of friends. I live in a relatively small town (40K), and it's not unusual for us to have some other connection with people. I, too, have found this to be comforting to people -- to have a friend providing the care. Of course, there's always the danger of crossing boundaries, but I haven't found family members to have unrealistic expectation, nor have I felt compelled to become too involved. Like you, I see it as a rare privelege. Thanks for the topic