Reasons that a patient will have a “patient sitter” include:
- They are unstable on their feet and have a high “fall risk.”
- They are confused and might pull IV’s out or wander from their room.
- They might sneak out if not under watch.
- They demonstrate aggressive and dangerous behaviors against others
- They are suicidal.
More often than not I sit with older patients.
Part of my job includes recording the activities of the patient every fifteen minutes on an “observation sheet.” I have to write down the time, identify what they were doing, and initial it.
Often I will write out the times several hours ahead and then just record activities and initial it when that time comes.
The other night as I was writing out the times for the next several hours it occurred to me… this patient may not make it for the next several hours. I am assuming that they will be here and doing activities for me to record!
This is not a thought I would have about someone who is younger and outside of the hospital. Someone like myself. I just assume the next fifteen minutes are mine to live. But why?
I just assume the next fifteen are mine. Maybe not. I have no more right to claim those minutes than does the confused and sick senior citizens with whom I sit.
The Bible says, “How do you know what will happen tomorrow? For your life is like the morning fog– it’s here a little while, then it’s gone” (James 4:14 NLT). This is a caution to each of us to not presume upon the next minutes. It is a call to us to live humbly and gratefully.
Humble because I know… it could be gone soon and there’s nothing I can do about that.
Grateful because I know… it is mine now to be lived with passion and love!
Victor Frankyl in his book Man’s Search for Meaning has a unique take on this idea. He writes:
Live as if you were living for the second time and had acted as wrongly the first time as you are about to act now.
Don’t read over that quickly! Stop! Re-read it!
Now, go live as if these minutes may be your last!