Archive for Skilled Nursing Facility

Madge Used 5 Words

Still alive?

“Why am I still alive?”

Madge repeated those five words, again and again.

Back then, as a twenty-something clergy and newly appointed associate pastor, visiting Madge and nearly everything else I did was a new experience. I fumbled through communion. I over-prepared for sermons. I felt like the youth group kids knew more than I did, and definitely outnumbered me.

The senior pastor, with decades of church work behind him, was a kind man and excellent mentor. He took me on visits, introduced me to the congregation. I entered homes, apartments, emergency rooms, hospitals, job sites, lunched at restaurants with church members, and . . . went to convalescent facilities.

The last was the worst. Well, maybe I should say toughest. No, both. The foul smells clashing with the stark odor of disinfectants, the rattle of wheelchairs and gurneys, the bored looks of underpaid, overworked staff, and the endless hallways paved with shiny linoleum.

And there was Madge. (Not her real name.)

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Mr. Cantankerous Goes Home

You'll Accompany MeFinally, the husband and father came home.

With his family.

He had a “good death.”

His wife, who the patient said that he loved more than life itself, sat beside him until a breath became the final one.

Not yet fifty, he should have been fussing with his vintage Chevy, playing with his first grandkid, or renovating another house with his business partner. Instead, he was stuck in bed. Because he enjoyed rock-and-roll, a lot of music was played during his last days at home. In those precious moments, in those fading breaths, there was one particular song that . . .

But I’m getting ahead of his story. It’s a story with a sad ending because a man too young dies. It’s also a story with a good enough ending, because of those four opening sentences. How I wish everyone’s death (old or young, rich or poor) had some version of those simple, blessed opening sentences. That won’t happen. Some deaths are hard. Some deaths strip a person or family from any opportunity to prepare or plan. Sometimes we deny impending death and then find ourselves grieving not just the person, but our own blindness or stubbornness. Read More →Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

Speak Up!

It's always nice and easy to share with "Friends" and others. Or is it . . .?

It’s always nice and easy to share with “Friends” and others. Or is it . . .?

Instead of visiting homes to provide care, one of our hospice nurses is assigned to patients in skilled nursing facilities (SNF). SNFs are also known as convalescent hospitals, nursing homes or the-place-no-one-wants-to-be. Sometimes Keon—let’s give that name to our friendly nurse—will also tend to a patient at an ALF, or Assisted Living Facility.

Mostly, though, it’s a SNF. The patients aren’t doing well. Even before they neared death, they likely had other injuries or illnesses that required serious, ongoing medical attention. While no longer able to stay in a hospital, they were far too serious to consider going home.

But kindly Keon, either by mistake and design, was assigned several patients at home.

Just before the start of a team meeting, Keon joked with other staff and said, “Today I had a patient talk back to me and hardly knew what to do.”

Whoa! A patient spoke! The majority of Keon’s SNF patients were too ill to speak. But in a home, with family and friends helping, the patient will happily give feedback. Or angrily give feedback. The patient (and you and I) can choose from a long list of feelings for answering questions or sharing opinions:  beyond happy and angry, there’s sad, scared, confused, offended, irked, aroused, two-faced, pleasant and . . . oh, how endless is the list. Endless and complex. Read More →Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather