follow your bliss

we don't have an eternity to realize our dreams, only the time we are here -susan l. taylor

Monday, July 03, 2006

on the brink

photo of 'hands' in my garden...for this week's inspire me thursday {body parts}
of one hundred & two... today was my first day back working with acute care inpatients at the hospital where i work. last week, if you recall, i was on 'light duty' at our outpatient office. i typically work 3, ten-hour days (not counting the 1 hour commute to & fro); two of the days (mondays & wednesdays), i work entirely at the hositpal & on thursdays i work at outpatient. i've been doing this gig (speech therapy, that is) for, um, let see, going on 14 years (yikes!)...& it never ceases to amaze me (actually frightens me) whenever i come across someone who is, unfortunately, on their "last legs" this 101 yr (almost 102 yr old at the end of this week!) patient i met today. well, actually, she was soundly asleep by the time i made my way to her hospital bed & i was met by two frail looking women. one of them, who looked to be about in her late 70s, early 80s, was this patient's daughter! the other was a family friend. it astounded me that mother & daughter were rarely come across a sight like this! it did not occur to me that one of them was family (much less a daughter!) when i first entered the scene...i just assumed they were the patients' caregivers, friends, etc. but certainly not daughter! & when the one said she was the daughter, i just about choked on my own spit! she didn't look that well either...i could tell she was wrought with fear & anxiety... she recounted to me the past few days of her mother's condition & it was not good. she was tearful (& i found myself having to choke back my own tears!)...i had read the woman's medical chart & things did not look good. i looked over to the patient & thought, poor dear, she doesn't look good & it's as though the dark angel of death is hovering over her bed... the daughter spoke of her mother as not eating (NOT good sign!), being increasingly agitated & talking about seeing loved ones who have gone beyond (also NOT good) her mother wanted to see her deceased grandmother...that there were 'people' she needed to see. i knew even before the daughter shared this with me that this patient was giving up...i just have this sense when someone is ready to go (& i don't mean the hospital either)...i told the two women that they need to be reminded to do what's in the best interest of the patient & to make sure that she is as comfortable as possible. the daughter began to weep quietly as i said that...she said she felt like she was "killing her mother"...i gently reminded her that she is only trying to make sure her mother is not suffering...i hope that she was comforted by that. when i left the room, i just had this sense that this woman wasn't gonna make it to her 102nd was sickening to think that, but, i've been around enough to know when something like this is likely to occur...& when i return to work on wednesday, i won't be the least bit surprised to hear that this 101 y.o. patient of mine has left the building. but i hope that i am fiercely wrong.Posted by Picasa


  • At 7/03/2006 09:47:00 PM, Blogger andria said…

    My grandma did the same thing the day she died. My grandpa had passed three months prior and she never was able to go back home and I think she just died because she wanted to go home so badly. She kept asking my mom if she saw her mama and said that her mama said she could go home if she wanted. She died about three hours later. I know it will be sad if your patient passes, and especially for the daughter, but 102 is a long time. I hope to have my mom around that long.

  • At 7/05/2006 03:15:00 PM, Blogger Going For Greatness said…

    I, too, work in a facility where I interact with geriatric patients. I do animal therapy at an Alzheimer's assisted living center. For the 1st time visitor it's probably a bit shocking. The residents are all living in a hotel-type setting. Their rooms line the hallway and they have a community 'living room', 'activity room' and 'dining room'. It's a very large, very new and very expensive facility. I just want you, Mary Ann, to know that your work is VERY appreciated by family and friends of those lives you touch on a daily basis. I PROMISE!!
    I know it's disheartening to see what you saw, you have to stand outside yourself, so to speak, and see it from another angle. I see what the nursing staff and technicians go through. Health care is one heck of a hard job. It takes dedicated CARING, COMPASSIONATE people like you.
    I have found it very hard. We had a patient who had turned 101 years old, he was our facilitie's oldest patient and he was such a sweetie. He loved it when I brought my babies (then 1 and 3) to visit and loved my dog too. I am an animal therapist and my dog has been a therapy dog for 12 years :)
    It's un-nerving to walk in, start on your routine only to find out that someone has unexpectedly passed away. It makes me MAD, SAD and totally confused. Though he lived to 101 years old, his eyes shone with a vigor and I really miss him. As I sat and thought about it, I realized that he had lived through more in his lifetime than we would think!! He lived through WW1, WW2, the inventions of so many things that my head spins just thinking about it.
    I hope that your heart isn't too heavy carrying around all that compassion. Sometimes you have to release some of it.
    I miss Leo, tremendously, and think of him often. I know he'd be scoulding me if he knew that I was walking around sad ;)
    I have NO idea what I just wrote. I was in the zone! Sorry for any rambling and incoherent nonsence that may have flown off the tips of my fingers!!
    have a great day!!

  • At 7/05/2006 03:16:00 PM, Blogger Going For Greatness said…

    PS - does Looney have a blog? I'd love to contact her because she totally made my day!!!
    you can email me at

  • At 7/06/2006 10:55:00 AM, Blogger Kim Carney said…

    Sad and sweet. The end of someone's life, even 101 - who obviously lived a good full life, is never easy to experience or think about. I hope her daughter can celebrate her life in the moment of her death...I love the hand image


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