Sunday, November 21, 2010

Do You Want to Hear a Story?

The first time I went to visit with her, she was laying rigidly with arms straight under a blanket pulled up to her chin. She looked straight up at the ceiling and would only talk when asked a question and then would say only yes or no after some hesitation. Her eyes never moved from the ceiling and she never moved her body. Her son was there trying to talk with her but got these short responses. It looked like it was going to be a difficult 'visit' for me.

I tried asking some questions like how is the food? Nothing. Is it good? Pause...Pause...yes. It went on like that until I ran out of questions (very quickly). So I chatted a bit about the weather, the facility and the folks who work here; she seemed to listen intently. So I took a chance...I asked if she would like a story read to her. Yes.

I carry around several books from the Chicken Soup for series; I pulled one out of my bag and scanned the index for a topic that might somehow fit the situation...I couldn't find anything. So I went with what my gut and heart told me, they usually never fail.

The title of the short story was "Amy Graham" by Mark V Hansen. It is the story of a young lady diagnosed with terminal leukemia...she had three days left. As part of Make-a-Wish foundation she wanted to attend this healing service held in Denver, Colorado. Mark Hansen is a motivational speaker who was to conduct three services and one prosperity consciousness workshop. He was surprised that a 17 year old wanted to spend her last time doing this instead of some fun visit to Disney.

He was so moved by her desire that he asked the full house if they wanted to learn a healing process that may serve them for life; it seemed every hand raised. He explained the process, they did it and aimed their healing energies toward Amy. She returned home and two weeks later called to inform him that she had been discharged and was in total remission.

I finished the story and looked her right in the eye, she seemed to have a little spark there. I took the instruction from the process in the book...rub hands together vigorously and direct them toward the patient with loving thoughts. I held my hands several inches above her body and waved them from her head to her toes and back again. The little glint was still there. She said thank you.

I will pray for you tonight I said as I left. See you next Saturday. Yes.

Next Saturday when I got there I perused the chart that lists patients. It indicates the most recent changes in their condition whether it be up or down or if they have passed. I was shocked to see that she had moved from the worst classification to a full step higher...she is functioning much better! She may be relocating to a rehabilitation center and away from the Hospice House.

Thank you.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

It's the Little things

One of the things that I like best about volunteer visiting for Hospice is that when I least expect it, I come away with something that affects me profoundly. Now, you are probably thinking that it is something that I say or do that impacts my patients life but you would be wrong. It is something that my patients say to me that makes those bells go off in my head.

Guess it would be best to give you an example of what I'm talking about. Lately I have been doing a lot of chores around the house; just maintenance sort of stuff, nothing esoteric or exotic! So, while I am visiting my folks the conversation will inevitably turn to the question " so what have you been doing lately?"

I always make it a point to avoid talking about myself and my interests, but sometimes it's better to just answer the question. It often leads to another story or remembrance that they feel like sharing. I found myself in just that predicament today. " What have you been doing lately?"

I replied:

I've been treating my fence with a waterproofing application and then as if that is not enough I tell them that I am refinishing the chairs from my dining room set. Usually discussion about either of these two things would result in a comment like: "that's nice...what else is new?"

But not so with these folks. They invariably say:

" I wish I could do that!"

Gratitude for even the mundane things in life is real.