An Abundance of Baptists!

Old Time Religion

We were discussing the new patients being admitted to hospice care. One of our chaplains* explained that a patient had “. . . a Baptist background, but couldn’t attend church anymore.”

Moments later, describing the next new patient, the same chaplain said, “She was a Baptist, but hasn’t been in any church since ‘they started projecting those dumb songs on the wall.’” He paused, then smiled. “Her words, not mine.”

And then, about another of his assigned patients: “He was raised Baptist, but said he lost interest in going to church after his children grew up and moved away.”

On that morning, at our patient care meeting**, it seemed each of that particular chaplain’s new patients were raised in, had been affiliated with, or were once deeply involved in churches from the many variations of the Baptist denomination. Hey, how many Baptists can you fit in a room?

But it’s just as likely the next meeting, with the next new patients, will reveal a variety of religious allegiances: Buddhist, Sikh, Muslim . . . along with the vast array of Christian “tribes” (from Armenian Orthodox through Russian Molokan to the Church of the Latter Day Saints). While there may not be as many religions as grains of sand on the beach, counting them would still be intimidating. There are major religions. Minor religions. There are faith traditions that hardly anyone practices anymore. Some denominations are growing and expanding. Certain ones seem quaint (and are often stereotyped) like the Amish. There are examples like Scientology, which may not be considered a religion, or even religious, by many—but it represents the only way to have meaning in life by adherents. Read More →

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We Said No to One Hospice

Choices and doors

Don’t judge a book by its cover.

But we do, don’t we? Or what about this cliché:  first impressions matter? Indeed, they do.

My mother’s unexpected cancer diagnosis was around this time six years ago. After a problematic surgery, she quickly required a second one: an inevitable “corrective” procedure. These efforts were designed to provide temporary relief from a tumor-caused blockage in her colon. However, even if the first surgery had been successful, our family would have still needed a hospice evaluation.

Time, and Mom’s relentless, rotten stage-4 disease, was not on anyone’s side.

Since we were unfamiliar with the hospices where Mom lived, my two sisters and I briefly pondered transporting her to my home. Once there, she could be served by the hospice where I work. That thought evaporated like snow in the desert. Contemplating a grueling 170-mile ride and her living far away from supportive friends had too many negatives. For us back then (and for the many who suddenly face hospice care “right now”), each of the dwindling options seem to add more complications.

What should we do? Read More →

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In Hospice: To Bed or Not To Bed?

hospital beds

The rational reasons for using a hospital bed make a long, persuasive list. But you don’t care . . .

Who would want one?

Does anyone really like ‘em?

They have cranks and levers, wobbly wheels, and are cumbersome to move or adjust. Newer models are often complex, with silent electric motors, links for computer cables, and (though pricey) lightweight metal alloy frames.

But who seeks to be horizontal in a hospital bed of any kind? Not for overnight, and certainly not for the remainder of your life. Whenever the hospice clinical staff discusses current patients, it’s nearly inevitable that at least one patient has recently balked at shifting to a hospital bed. I view the hospital bed as one of the intimidating symbols of hospice care. Of course, it’s more than a symbol once it arrives at your home.

Wouldn’t you refuse?

We like love our bed in our bedroom. It’s a sanctuary. Don’t all the health care experts tout the value of a good night’s sleep? Whether retired, in a part-time job, or with a stressful career (along with raising kids, volunteering, and don’t forget yard and house work), doesn’t everyone desire to sleep every day? Do the personal math: we’re on a mattress more than we eat, work, play, exercise, procrastinate, shovel snow, mow a lawn, or take a vacation. Hey, for some, a little sleep is as close as they’ll get to a vacation for long stretches of time. Work is demanding. Families are demanding. At least let me escape into my cozy bed! Read More →

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