April 8, 2014

I Lost a Patient Today

A lot of nutrition-things have happened lately.  I went to a national Public Policy Workshop for nutrition in Washington DC.  I attended our Spring Assembly for Illinois State Dietetics.  I hosted a Vegetarian Dietetic Practice Group exhibit booth there.  I participated in an Illinois State Leadership Retreat, preparing for my Presidency in Chicago next year.  In the midst of all this excitement and forward momentum, something else happened....one of my patients died. 

I don't talk about my patients often on this blog; I like to keep their lives completely private.  I am proud to say I'm in cancer-care and see a lot of great, happy things but I also lose people on occasion.  This person I lost was one of my favorite patients and I had a close relationship with her family as well.  I was always struck by her desire to change her diet and follow my advice in hopes she would get better and be cured from her disease.  Even though she lacked social support at times and the things I was asking her to do (cut out sugar!) were foreign at first, she persevered every day and was thankful that these changes to her lifestyle made her feel better and got her through treatment more comfortably.  I always respected her tenacity and she really proved that anyone can change their diet at any age if they really want to.  I believe, and hope, that the changes I helped her make gave her more quality time with her family.

Colleagues at work also share their experiences with cancer care

Unfortunately, cancer won this battle and I learned my patient went into hospice at home.  I asked her family if I could visit and they invited me in.  I visited her at her house and got a beautiful picture of the life she had lived.  She did recognize me when I got there and reached out to hold my hand like she did so often, when she was well, at the clinic.  Her grip was so strong even when she was only hours away from passing.  I got an email that she passed away the next day surrounded by family.  I'll be forever grateful that I got to spend that time with her before she transitioned out of this life.  

Another one of my patients told me recently that she is thankful that she got cancer because she's happier now than she ever has been before.  She told me she is happy every day that she's alive and so grateful for every interaction.  She told me that people stop her all the time to tell her she looks vibrant.  My patients are such an example of beauty and love that they also teach me to be thankful for every day I have with all of you!  Keep these wonderful people in mind as you move forward, practicing gratitude for your time with friends and family.  Also, know that you can make any choice you want - a choice for health and vitality despite any barrier in your way.  I see it happen every day.   

1 comment:

  1. Beautiful post, I'm sorry for your loss.