Archive for Stubborn

Bed Wars

hospitalbedNo one wants one.

No one likes them.

Some have cranks and levers, wobbly wheels, and are cumbersome to move or adjust.

Newer ones are more complex, have silent electric motors, links for computer cables, and (though pricey) lightweight metal alloy frames.

But who wants to lie in a hospital bed of any kind? Not for overnight, and certainly not for the rest of your life.

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.

Whenever the hospice clinical staff discusses current patients, it’s nearly inevitable that at least one patient has balked at shifting to a hospital bed.

Wouldn’t you refuse? Read More →

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I’m Fine

I'm FineYou visit your mother and she mentions a little ache in her lower back. In her seventies, she still rises early to stretch. The brisk walk with Cosmo the dog comes next, and then a sensible breakfast for both of them. But there is that ache. She’s taking more Advil, and has less energy in the afternoons. Because of that “little” pain, not even naps seem to give her enough rest.

And you ask, since you love her, “Is everything okay? Should you see your doctor?”

“Oh, I’m fine!” she says.

Nearing your golden wedding anniversary, your husband often appears short of breath. He’s never been into exercise regimes, and has one of those metabolisms everyone hates. At seventy-two, he can put on the tuxedo worn when you celebrated 25 years of marriage. Now, while doing yard work, his breathing is occasionally labored. You notice he wakes at night more frequently for bathroom trips . . . but he (and his prostate) are getting older. However, on several occasions he didn’t immediately return to bed, but sat on the chair by the closet.

In the dark of the bedroom, you ask, “Are you okay?” Read More →

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Ornery Is In Our DNA

In Joan Halifax’s Being With Dying, she wrote* . . .

World religions scholar Huston Smith once told the story of a well-known psychologist, an ornery old man close to death. One morning, as he was struggling to get to the toilet, a nurse tried to help him. He snapped back at her, “I can do it myself!” Then he dropped to the floor dead.

Smith used this story to illustrate just how defensive about needing help we are often are. He called this reaction ‘the porcupine effect.’

Stubborn starts early. Do humans have an ornery gene in the DNA?

Stubborn starts early. Do humans have an ornery gene in the DNA?

I agree with Smith’s “porcupine effect,” or . . . don’t touch me! Over the years of working with those close to death (and those caring for them) I have frequently heard a variation of the phrase: how you live is how you die. That may not be as true when death happens because of a car accident or an earthquake, but still . . .

During life, some are ornery like Smith’s “well-known psychologist,” and that’s exactly what they are like as they approach death. All humans are many things. Gentle. Crude. Fearful. Talkative. Stoic. Finger-pointers. Self-deprecating. Calm. Anxious. Generous. Miserly. The list of the ways we describe ourselves, or others describe us, is lengthy. But we’re never one thing. We are a stew of emotions, a tossed salad of reactions, a buffet overflowing with contradictions.

But I think most are stubborn. (Or call it ornery.) We are gentle, kind, and stubborn. We are fearful, secretive, and stubborn. We are self-deprecating, touchy-feely, and, yes, stubborn.

  • Don’t help me.
  • I don’t want your assistance.
  • I can do it on my own.
  • Leave me alone.
  • Add your own human warning label: _____________________

Read More →

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