Archive for Family

The Skeleton Dance

Fox and Prince

How are your bones?

As in, all 206 of them. When born, babies have 270 bones. Some soon fuse together. The actual number depends on what you read, and how argumentative you like to be! Me, I wouldn’t want to be tested on the names or number of bones. In a single wrist, there are eight: capitate, hamate, lunate, pisiform, scaphoid, trapezium, trapezoid and triquetrum.

However counted, bones are the solid infrastructure of our bodies.

Once, in a hospice team meeting, as we reviewed a patient’s concerns, a nurse mentioned the ulna.

“What is that?” I asked, ever ignorant.

“It’s a bone in the upper arm,” answered another nurse.

“No,” the hospice physician said, “the lower arm has the ulna and radius. The upper arm bone is the humerus.”

All of us professionals smiled and chuckled. How . . . humorous? Come on now, and sing with me:

The foot bone’s connected to the leg bone.
The leg bone’s connected to the knee bone.
The knee bone’s connected to the neck bone.
Doin’ the skeleton dance.

The thigh bone’s connected to the hip bone.
The hip bone’s connected to the backbone.
The backbone’s connected to the neck bone.
Doin’ the skeleton dance.

The Skeleton Dance, a children’s song and a long 200+ list of Latin names we can barely remember and even a thoughtful nurse will occasionally mistake one for the other. Read More →

Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

Please Don’t Wear Your Hospice Nametags

It feels odd when the hospice staff is asked to NOT wear nametags on home visits.

A spouse or grandparent nears death, but the family doesn’t want the person to know she or he is dying. And so, a scheme unfolds. Perhaps telltale mail is hidden or discarded. If there are any family conversations about dying or death—or other “bad” words—incomplete sentences become the norm if the “wrong” person enters the room. Friends join the hush-hush efforts, though the more talkative or gossipy ones may be left out of any “information loop.”

Often a doctor that’s concluded there’s no longer the possibility of a cure joins the conspiracy. Whether it’s the inevitable health complications of aging or an opportunistic, grim cancer, the physicians and nurses that were tending to the person’s needs remain silent about the prognosis. (Or at least, silent enough.)

And so, when a hospice admitting nurse knocks on the front door (because the person’s physician has formally requested hospice) and a family member opens the door (he or she has likely been peering through windows, anxiously awaiting the visit), the nurse is first greeted with . . . Read More →

Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

Cancer Can Break Bones and Caregivers

Along with the primary diagnosis of cancer, a hospice nurse quickly listed her patient’s other health issues at our team meeting. One of the patient’s concerns was a . . . “pathological fracture.”

To which I thought, “Huh? What?”

I first thought of pathological liar, a phrase I’ve read in novels and seen in films. Actor Jim Carrey’s Liar Liar from 1997 humorously came to mind. There he played a lawyer who frequently and thoughtlessly lied. Lying for Carrey’s character was no different than breathing. But did the familiar “pathological liar” have anything to do with “pathological fracture?”

In the realm of words, there’s a common ground because of “pathology,” or the study of diseases. Lying about everything, though funny for a movie’s plot, will hurt, and can be diagnosed as an illness. Lying can cripple a person and profoundly impact every relationship.

A pathological fracture literally cripples a patient. Read More →

Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather