Archive for Refusing Help

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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I Just Want Them to Be with Me

This newborn day is where I can dare to make a difference…

When serving as a chaplain for another hospice—like hopefully all chaplains in all hospices—I never emphasized my personal faith. But then and now Christianity influences me, even as I try to remain open to learning from the various religious traditions (or lack of religion) represented by the dying patients and families that have been part of my work.

In the Gospel of Luke, Jesus said, “And ought not this woman, a daughter of Abraham whom Satan bound for eighteen long years, be set free from this bondage on the Sabbath day?” (Luke 13:16)

This verse from Luke is one of the places where Jesus broke the rule about not working on the Sabbath—he healed!—and was condemned by the religious authorities. Worse, he healed a . . . woman! Worse yet, the incident occurred in a synagogue. While I am a Christian pastor, I don’t think the implications of this passage are limited to Christianity or Judaism. Whether someone is Hindu, agnostic, or spends weekends worshipping a three iron while strolling along a favorite golf course, Jesus’ statement resonated with universal truth.

I’ve seen it in hospice. One of the suggestions I make to families is to let their loved one know—when it seems appropriate—that it will be all right for him or her to die. Read More →

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Everyone (mostly) Needs Help

According to the social worker’s earliest notes on the medical chart, the patient’s son didn’t want any grief support after his father died.

The nurse who’d cared for his father echoed those sentiments when the family was discussed in the hospice team meeting. Since the patient—the father—had been in our hospice’s care for several months, there had been multiple visits by the social worker, nurse, and chaplain. All agreed the son said (before and at the time of death) that he was okay. Additionally, the son’s cousin—more like a trusted friend since childhood—happened to be one of our hospice nurses.

This cousin/nurse affirmed what others concluded: the son had shared he didn’t need additional bereavement support after his father’s death.

He.

Was.

Fine.

But the cousin, my hospice colleague, also said to me, and to the social worker who’d write the official chart notes, that the son should be contacted anyway.

“Give him a call,” the cousin/nurse said. Read More →

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