Friday, October 28, 2005

I've been busy, really...

So much to think about, so few brain cells with which to do so, alas. CPE so very absorbing. Right now just praying for the peaceful death, SOON, of a patient who has suffered greatly. The patient is now, I am told, actively dying, and being kept pain free, but the wish of everyone who has cared for her is that she can be quickly released now from a body which has endured immense assaults from her illness. I sang to her Monday night, the night she was admitted into hospice care, as she was being medicated for pain. As I sang and the medicine began to work, I watched her jaw relax, and her forehead un-furrow, and eventually her eyebrows wiggle in a relaxed face, as if she were thinking of something enjoyable. Gradually her grip on my hand also relaxed as the medication took firm hold. I tried stopping singing and she began furrowing, moving her head. I started again and again she stilled. Eventually she drifted into deep, painless sleep, and I said good-night and left. Wednesday I went into her room; she was unresponsive and beginning the descent into dying, but very comfortable. I spoke to her and her eyebrows wiggled a response, as if she remembered the sound of my voice. I sang some more, and left her to her rest. I hope within the next hours she will rest eternally.

Thinking of a simply lovely family doing their best to help their husband/father die. They wondered why he was 'holding on;' they guessed he was afraid of the unknown. His dying process seemed slow, very measured. I asked what he was like as a person--did he love adventure, new sensations? Would he have longed for a chance to parachute, just to see what it would be like? All immediately responded that he would not, never, it was not his nature to rush into such things. Perhaps it was not his nature to rush into dying either. I wish we could tell you, I said to him, what exactly it would be like--and I wish I could tell you for sure that wonderful things would happen. Though he was unresponsive, I was talking to him and family. I have to be honest with you, I said. What's true is that we really don't know, because no one has gone absolutely all the way and then reported back. So I can imagine, I said, that a sensible man would take one step at a time. Who knows if he heard; at least, I hope, his family could relax a bit about his process, let go of the idea that they could say the right thing to induce him to 'let go.'

One patient is sharing chocolate. Her husband and sister bring it for her, and she is a generous lady, so chocolate is to be had.

The nursing and CNA staff are grieving deeply themselves, because a beloved colleague died suddenly a couple weeks ago. It was a shock to all who knew her, and working on a hospice unit does not make one's own personal shock and grief any less hard. They are stretched thin, thin, thin. I think I'll bring them some more chocolate tomorrow. Or something. One wishes one could bring something a lot stronger than chocolate, but such things are not allowed to enter the hospital. These staff are amazing. I watched them care for a very helpless and ill patient the other day, and it was sacramental, the gentleness and respect for someone who by virtue of old age, dementia, and terminal illness could be thought of as 'one of the least of these.' Not by the nurses and CNAs who proffered clean dressings and gown, plenty of pillows to support weary limbs, soft lighting for rest, medication for pain, brushing of hair for dignity, respectful touch, and gentle, loving, reassuring words.

29 years ago today my father died at 58, killed by his first and only massive heart attack.

And, a last word, buy the advent devotional book! Proceeds will help with hurricane relief. I wrote one entry, but you'll have to buy the book to find out which one.


Blogger see-through faith said...

loved the picture of you singing. Bless you in your ministry

1:55 AM  

Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home