Thursday, January 20, 2011

January 20, 2011

Greetings from Florida! This is a great time of the year to live in Florida if you don't like the cold and snow and ice. Our temperatures can be cool in the mornings but by afternoon, it is usually in the 60's. I'll take 60!

Hospice work has been busy. Lots of activity from deaths to admissions. Last week, we had 30 deaths in one week. It is hard on the staff to have people die in a room and then immediately have another patient come to that room. So the new plan is to open the windows while the housekeepers are cleaning, spray a little sage oil, and anoint the door. It may sound peculiar to you but I am convinced along with others that the energy needs to be moved after a death.

Today, I was able to sit with another one of my favorite patients. She was in the hospice house 3-4 weeks ago to get symptoms managed. She was so thankful to go back home and I was happy for her. I was surprised that she was back so soon for end-of-life care. She loves Christian music so I hooked up my IPOD to a portable speaker and took it to her room. She is unresponsive now but the belief is that hearing is the last thing to go and we believe that she could hear. So I played her favorite music and just sat with her for a bit. When I have patients that I have gotten close to, I actually want to be there when they take their last breath. It helps me.

Yesterday, another one of my favorite patients left to go home but I called her today to see how her first 24 hours went and she is already struggling. I expect to see her soon. She has been a beautiful woman and has taken care of everyone her whole life. So, she struggles to know her value. I wish that ministers would preach and teach that God is not a God that makes good and bad things happen. People that believe that have a really hard struggle when they die of an illness.

I am around death all of the time and just today I told a hospice worker that had just lost her grandmother that it still is hard when it is personal. A good, dear, friend of mine died on Monday. She was 87 years old and her smile could light up a room. I will miss that smile! Rest in Peace, dear Phyllis.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

January 4, 2011

Happy New Year to all. I can't believe that there is another year behind us. Seemed like a year to two ago when I was testing systems for Y2K at Lincoln Financial Group in FW. But here we are, 2011.

Christmas time is a difficult time at hospice - nobody wants a loved one to die at Christmas. We had a 48 year old mom with two daughters, 11 and 9. The girls had one thing on their Christmas list - for mom to come home for the day. Everyone hoped for it. The doctor and nurses were doing all they could to "buy" her a few more days. On 12/23, things really changed. We all believed she would die. I was with the family all day, the social worker was called in, the child counselor was called in, family members were called in to say goodbye, the girls came. We waited. I watched a Christmas miracle as she bounced back enough to go home on Christmas eve for 18 hours. What gratitude for the gift of a day! She did come back and was with us until this morning. So, my miracle friend, rest in peace.

I often offer blessings at the end of life - one is for the living - to be in peace, to let go and know they are loved. Recently, I provided the blessing and 5 minutes later, he died. Yesterday, the patient died while I was giving the blessing. The doctor told me I rocked, some wanted me to give blessings to patients that were so close but wouldn't let go, and others were afraid to be around me! You have to have a sense of humor to work in hospice so I was glad to provide the humor for the staff. But it is quite a holy moment to be blessing someone as they take their last breath.

This time of year is a great time to be in Florida. They weather is beautiful and it is nice to not have the gray, cold days during the winter in IN. But I miss my friends, family, and chats at Starbucks with several of you. So have a tall, non-fat, extra hot, raspberry chai and think of me! I'll do the same!