ok, just had to get my diva on for a moment. :)
Today was my first official day on my own <<fighting the urge to sing again...>>, though I ended up doing one visit on Friday unattended (I shadowed the team chaplain and while she had an urgent phone call I was up to bat. I sat with a patient's wife on Friday and used active listening, live music, proximity, reinforcement and prompts to help validate her, her husband, and their life together. After being with her for an hour and half, playing some good old songs "none of that jive music" as she put it, and having her teach me the secret to a 65 year marriage I left that assisted living facility on cloud nine.
Today was just as wonderful. Since, the visits are "transition visits" my supervisor is attending them with me, but I have to do it all myself. And.I.Love.It!! From the patient who cracks me up continually to the sweet heart who sings along. From Irish tunes to American standards, introductions to documentation, I felt like I was doing exactly what I was supposed to be doing. Sure! There are lots of things that I need to work on... realizing part way into a song that the meter is 4/4 as opposed to the 3/4 I am playing or having the gumption to just take the lead in a situation and "go for it". But as I continue on my journey I am continually faced with the question, "Isn't it hard to work in Hospice?"
Two months ago that was a real fear of mine. That it would be too hard. I'm a fairly emotional person. I cry at sad/happy/sappy/scary movies. I cry at weddings. I empathize with others to a fault. I had a very serious fear that this position would prove to be to much. To much death. To much sadness. Now, my honest feelings are not of fear or sadness. Rather they are of pride in the work that every one of the staff members on the hospice team does. The feeling of making a difference in the world. Ok... making a difference in the life of one person. I love the results I see...
- the tears of a wife as I sing Ave Maria
- the slow steady breaths of a patient with Pancreatic Cancer as I improvise at his bedside
- the recognition of a song for a patient with an Alzheimer's diagnosis as they sing along
- the comfort a patient diagnosed with dementia feels (and the much less agitated/more cooperative attitude they display) when being played music as they are given a shower
- the smooth transition from labored breathing while being assisted with a BiPAP to breathing on their own
- the memory made for a family member or an entire family as they spend musical (non-medical) time with their loved one
When we touch a single piano key, we hear not a single string, but the rich sound of many strings vibrating in harmony. When we touch a single life, the harmony that spreads enriches the lives of many.I'm not saying that I am any big deal. By no means. I am not out changing the world. But I just feel lucky to know that maybe I made a difference to someone somewhere along the way.
A man was walking along a deserted beach at sunset. As he walked he could see a young boy in the distance, as he drew nearer he noticed that the boy kept bending down, picking something up and throwing it into the water. Time and again he kept hurling things into the ocean. As the man approached even closer, he was able to see that the boy was picking up starfish that had been washed up on the beach and, one at a time he was throwing them back into the water. The man asked the boy what he was doing, the boy replied,"I am throwing these washed up starfish back into the ocean, or else they will die through lack of oxygen. "But", said the man, "You can't possibly save them all, there are thousands on this beach, and this must be happening on hundreds of beaches along the coast. You can't possibly make a difference." The boy smiled, bent down and picked up another starfish, and as he threw it back into the sea, he replied. "I made a difference to that one."