As I continue on my journey through nursing school I am realizing that things are not always as they seem. I use to think that having a mental illness meant being bipolar, schizophrenic, or suffering from depression. I have learned this quarter that there is more to having a mental illness than being a nut case stuck in mental hospital in a catatonic stupor.
I have been able to spend time with patients during clinical hours that have a chronic illness such as congestive heart failure, chronic kidney failure, diabetes mellitus, and the list goes on. Before the last few months, I never made a connection that having one illness can lead to another illness, let alone leading to depression, anxiety, or a chemical imbalance that could lead to dementia or Alzheimer’s.
This past week has been a whirlwind of emotions ranging from ok, things will be ok, to this just got a little serious. When I walked into the ED on Sunday night, dad was talking and did not seem as though anything was wrong. I expected him to be home the next day just because he was dad.
I received a call from my brother saying that dad had been transferred to another hospital and was going to need CABG, although how many was going to be needed was not an answer that was available. When I went to see him we started talking about advanced directives and his wishes. Usually one of his brothers or another family member generally is available to make those decisions. This time he gave me his healthcare power of attorney.
When it comes to my dad or my mom, I still think of myself as a kid not as an almost 40 year old man. Throughout my different clinical rotations, post op complications are always a topic during any lecture. Talking about advanced directives was the time I realized that things may not go according to plan. I felt my anxiety level increase while the look on my dad’s face and the tone of his voice told me that he believed everything was going to be ok.