After a nearly fatal incident, Lorraine wasn’t sure she wanted to live anymore. Then nurse Maree showed up and gave her the hope she needed to find joy again.
It was dire. Lorraine had fallen out of bed in the middle of the night, and didn’t come to until late the following afternoon. She called for help, and when the ambulance got there, her body was starting to shut down. Lorraine had a perforated diverticulum and she needed bowel surgery and then a colostomy bag to survive.
“It was pretty traumatic for me,” Lorraine said. “Knowing I had to have a stoma bag sent shivers through me. I coped quite well in hospital, the stoma nurse was great, but then I had to come home. Well, I just thought, ‘I’m not going to cope with this. I’ll just die anyway’.”
Then in walked Registered Nurse Maree, who has been with integratedliving Australia for 27 years now. “Maree came that first day at home, and she was so supportive. She was so lovely, gentle and professional. She gave me a lot of confidence. And from then on, she just got me through the whole thing.”
Both based in Ballarat, Maree came twice a week for many months, and another ‘wonderful’ nurse attended Lorraine on a third day weekly.
“Maree was so sympathetic and sweet but so positive,” widowed Lorraine said. “It’s just wonderful what she has done for me as a person. I really appreciate everything she does, and she does it without any fuss and so professionally.”
After Maree's grandson Samuel survived very serious bowel surgery, the pair formed an even stronger bond. Following an article about Samuel in the newspaper, Lorraine has kept the little survivor close to her heart.
“His photo’s still on my fridge and I talk to him often,” Lorraine said. “How he came through it gave me inspiration as well. The little darling was only 24 hours old. I was 77 at the time and I thought ‘if he can do it, I can do it’. I felt very grateful to know I wasn’t the only one on this Earth who is struggling at the moment.”
The admiration between client and nurse is mutual. “The way Lorraine has coped, the way that she's gone forward with the help that's been provided, but strongly independent, is very inspiring,” Maree said.
“Lorraine is vibrant with life now,” Maree said. “She has been able to get back into life and living, whereas she thought she wouldn't be able to go on. I admire her very much and I'm always very excited to see her.”
In more good news, Lorraine has been able to have her colostomy bag removed. “That was a terrific bonus,” Lorraine said.
Maree says supporting people like Lorraine back to better health is a huge privilege.
“One of the great joys of this job is looking after people who are more senior, who've had more life experience than I have,” Maree said. “Obviously, they've come to that point where they need help in their own home and being able to provide that service and to go in there as a nurse, it's a really privileged position to be in, to be in someone's home.
“It's their sacred space, and to be invited in because they're becoming more fragile, less able than previously is a privilege. And just to be able to give them what they need in order to stay in that lovely home that they've always been in, whether it be very humble or more grand. It’s somebody's home and that's the main thing. That's where they want to be and it doesn't matter what their home’s value is, the value for that person is in being in their own home and it's where they love to be. So I love that I can help with that,” Maree said.
Maree is certain that the giving is the receiving, and that through her work she gains even more than she can give.
“I think I'm very, very fortunate that I've got a job that gives me that. It’s hard to describe that joy. Sometimes I can walk in and find someone who's perhaps having a really hard day or has had some bad news and is feeling sad about a loss or their own losses. Their losses within their own family or community.
And hopefully, we can give them a little bit of a lift and walk out of there knowing that they've at least had a smile on their face that day or we've had a bit of a laugh. I love that. I walk away and I've gained as much as they have. I think even more quite often because I feel like I’ve done something worthwhile. That gives me life.”
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