Friday, August 19, 2011

Rhapsody in Blue

She seemed more excited than usual to see me and her first words were: "Did you bring the book?" I replied, "yes."
The book of course was "This I Believe"  a series of NPR essays by famous and not so famous people spanning several decades.
She was happy knowing I would read to her again.  This time she wanted me to start reading right time for small talk.  The first topic was Jazz.  I asked if she like music; she said yes she did.
So, in the story was a reference to the song Rhapsody in Blue, and when I finished the story she couldn't wait to tell me about when she heard this piece played live by twenty pianists at the New York World's Fair in the 1960's.
Oh, she went on and on.  After twenty minutes or so she said, "thank you for the happy tears.  Read me another."  ...and so it went for two hours; then she fell fast asleep.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

She Graduated from Hospice

I've have been visiting with, well let's call her Sue, for almost six months. She is one of the younger patients that I have seen in the program at 53. She is missing her left leg and a good portion of her right foot is gone too. They keep saying the right leg has to come off, but Sue keeps saying: "no way"! There is hair growing on that leg, so it is still good. Of course she is wheelchair bound, but that doesn't stop her.

She knows everyone in the rehab center where she stays. Since she is a hopelessly addicted smoker, she has become a bird lover and has arranged for the folks that run the facility to fill the feeders all around the smoking area so she, and a lot of the other patients, can watch the birds. She really has a heart of gold given her life story and her condition.

Last week she told me that they were taking her off of Hospice. That is really great news since the doctors believe she will continue living longer than expected...beyond the six months that is the qualifier for Hospice. These are rare occurrences and I thought that we should celebrate, not in a great big way; just between the two of us. We did walk this path together for the last six months.

So I went to our local bakery on the last day of my visit (yes, once she is out of Hospice, I can no longer visit her) and got a little something for the special occasion

I hope her new life keeps getting better and better!

Friday, January 14, 2011

It's Most Unusual

I've been working with Hospice patients for almost a full year now and yesterday I got to enjoy my second patient who "graduated out of Hospice". This (I think) is most unusual, since people are admitted to Hospice when it is no longer feasible to continue medical therapy since death is presumed to occur within six months.

My first graduate is 97 and had been in hospice for almost six months. Not only did she graduate but she decided since she was apparently going to live a little longer, she may as well learn to walk again. The last time I visited, I was shocked to see her walking down the hallway (with the aid of a walker) wearing jeans and a big smile. Looks like she may make 100!

My second graduate was also in Hospice for almost 6 months. She is much younger but has only one leg and may lose the other to gangrene. But her spirits are high and her determination is strong. There is a lot of life left in her too!

I brought two gourmet cupcakes to celebrate. We shared each and ate in silence. We will miss theses times together.

As a volunteer, once they have "graduated" I can no longer visit with them. It is sad, but it is a rule I must live with. I still pray for them and wish them a full life; I just can't visit them anymore.

I sometimes wonder, if and when, they come back to Hospice, will I be assigned as their volunteer visitor again.