Hello, I'm Jennifer. My family have now moved from London to Poulsbo. These are my reflections on random things.
My favorite part of having a volunteer like Mona is her flexibility and ability to help out wherever needed. I love that she views the Fred Lowthian Care Center as her ‘Home away from Home’ and the staff and volunteers there as her extended family. Nothing is beneath her. She will care for a patient as soon as dust or fold laundry. She is an attractive person, inside and out and extends a great humility.
Unfortunately I don’t get to see her interacting much with patients as my office is 7.9 miles away in Silverdale, but I have caught her in action a few times in my visits to the Fred Lowthian Care Center. Not surprisingly, she is able to develop a great rapport with her open and friendly outlook and she is able to sit quietly as a support or engage in conversation according to the patient’s wants and situation. She also offers support to the family members. In fact, a family member wrote in to compliment Mona and another volunteer Jeri:
“Dear Jeri and Mona,
You both were truly my Angels sent from Heaven to care for me as I tried to care for my Dad. I will always remember you both for the rest of my life. I could not have done this without you both to help me along the way. I look forward to seeing you both at another time when I feel up to coming back.
Mona, I did not expect my Dad to pass when he did this morning but I don’t know how I would have gotten through this morning or day without you by my side. Norman sent you to me and my Dad for a reason. Thank you for staying with me all morning and afterwards. I know that I will remember you both always and forever.”
Kim told me that she was all alone at the Fred Lowthian Care Center being a support for her Dad and the volunteers were a support for her. She felt that Mona’s partner Norm who had died in the care center a few weeks’ previous, was responsible for putting them together. Mona felt that way too. In fact, Kim says, when Mona was helping to fold her Dad’s things she noticed some similar clothing items and exclaimed “Norman had a sweater like this!”
What is it about Hospice that draws such quality volunteers? This is a serious business. The people who volunteer for us have a vocational calling. They are passionate in their belief that no one should die alone. If Hospice were a corporate company, I would say that our product is a good death. Now who doesn’t want that?
Three years ago, it was a dying father’s last wish to ‘give back’ to Hospice of Kitsap County. The result of that was a video ‘Anson’s Story’ that has been on our website. We recently got the opportunity to meet up with his wife, Laurie, and tell her side of the story. The result is ready: Laurie’s Story.
We were able to make this video due to a collaboration with The Art Institute of Seattle and a former BBC correspondent who volunteered their services in the narration, filming and creation of this film.
Laurie herself had just come out of surgery but did not hesitate when asked if she would be able to take part. She is now a single mother to three children and her willingness to share her story with others is truly inspiring.
Off – camera, I got to speak with her and I have a few stories to share. The youngest of the three children has few memories of her dad in comparison to her siblings which she finds difficult at times. But she has her own way to stay connected. She is a theatrical child, always singing. Her brother and sister beg her to stop sometimes. She says “No. Daddy told me NEVER to stop singing.”
One afternoon when Laurie was picking up her children from school, another mother excused herself and came over to chat. She said “I know you don’t know me well but I have heard what happened to your family. I want you to know that your kids should now never tell you that they ‘can’t’ do something. They have lived through this.”
Please pop on over to our facebook page for a viewing https://www.facebook.com/HospiceofKC
Yesterday I had the opportunity to meet up with one of our patients, Jim (86) and his wife Mary. Jim is the epitome of the ‘salty sailor’ which is an old nautical term referring to a sailor who is experienced and thus encrusted with salt. While Jim may not be literally ‘salty’ (although his language is!) he is certainly experienced having served in 4 Wars: WWII, Korea, Vietnam and Desert Storm as part of the ‘Military Sealift Command’.
Jim joined the Navy in 1943 at age 16, his little white lie about his age only caught up with him recently when some questions arose in regards to his social security. The first ship he was on was the U.S.S. Louisville, a CA 28 heavy cruiser. He remembers being in the Philippines and the arrival of MacArthur on October 17, 1944. For R & R they were allowed 2 cans of beer and got to stay ashore a tiny atoll called Ulithi in the Pacific Ocean for one and a half hours.
Jim met his wife Mary in 1983, the result of a blind date and the third marriage for both. He describes marriage as ‘smooth sailing for some parts but it depends on how you handle the rough spots.’ When I met them, they were both clearly devoted to one another, anticipating and finishing each other’s sentences. I asked Jim if he had any advice from his life experience. His answer “When I joined the Navy, you didn’t talk back, you just did so I learned to keep my mouth shut. My advice to people, young and old alike is to think before you say.” Mary bursts out laughing, “Jim, you never think before you say!”
About 18 months ago Jim was given a diagnosis for pulmonary fibrosis. Around the same time Mary was, according to John ‘poking around in my mail’ and she came across an application for ‘Honor Flight Network’ a non-profit organization that transports Veterans particularly WWII survivors to Washington D.C. to visit and reflect at their Memorials. Going to see the Memorials in ‘the other Washington’ had been on Jim’s bucket list for years. So unbeknownst to Jim, she filled in the application and mailed it off.
About two months ago, two things happened. Mary received a call to tell her that her application to Honor Flight Network had been accepted and they would pay for Jim to go. Jim’s initial reaction was “I am dying, I can’t go!” Around the same time Jim came onto Hospice as a home patient. In addition to his regular care, Hospice of Kitsap County are working alongside Bellevue Home Medical Equipment to make arrangements for the oxygen canisters so that Jim can make this journey. His neighbor, who is himself a veteran of Vietnam, is accompanying Jim as a guardian. Mary’s family are coming up to visit and keep her company while Jim makes this historic trip.
I ask him what his view of Hospice of Kitsap County is. “I have been in hospitals before and been cut up and poked around and had various procedures done. I can honestly say that since I’ve been with Hospice I never thought I’d get this type of care. I never thought I’d be treated so nice.” “You all give the best.”
“In my estimation”, he pauses to smile at his Hospice Social Worker Kiam Parker, “you are angels.”
So the Executive Director heard that we had this patient on the books – an 86 year old Veteran of 4 wars who was going to D.C.and he thought it might make a good story for the Hospice to use somewhere. So I arranged with the Hospice Social Worker to go out with her and meet him and his wife. Well I thought it/he was an excellent story for the papers to pick up so I made some calls and then got some feedback that they were interested: The North Kitsap Herald wants to run a story on Friday and The Central Kitsap Reporter wants to put it in a special edition they do for Veterans at the end of the month. They want to send their own reporter out and photographer and it all sounds great. Well I tell the Social Worker this good news and she is hesitant. So the next morning the editor of the paper is calling me and I have no answers yet. I can’t get in touch with the Social Worker and then she shows up at the office and she calls and speaks to the wife. Apparently he really enjoyed the interview I did and it was cathartic in a way to talk but he is done now. No more. He doesn’t want to talk to anyone else and what’s more – he doesn’t even want his name used although he said we could use whatever I had had written, although he hadn’t read it yet. So I changed the names in my article to John and Sue and with a disappointed heart I call the papers to let them know the deal is off. I speak with one of the editors and he says that the story and pictures I took were fine but he really is going to need to run the article using the real name. He says “Tell him that this is about honoring him. Tell him that by using his real name he is helping others in a similar situation access the help he received from Hospice.” So I print out what I’ve written, I tell the Social Worker I would like her permission to go on over back to his house and show him what I’ve written so far and ask if he would reconsider allowing me to use his own name. We talk over the reasons as to why he might have changed his mind: 1. Afraid of unwarranted attention 2. Too traumatic to hash up his war memories 3. He is terminally ill , let’s not forget and gearing up for this trip of his LIFE this FRIDAY and probably just needs to concentrate on that. I totally, completely understand and respect that. I will be very sensitive to the situation but I want him to see what I’ve written. She gives me her blessing to go see her patient.
The card I got my husband for Father’s day says ‘I chose the right man to have kids with.’ Inside it says ‘There’s no denying it. They are yours.’
I was driving along in the van with the kids and Dylan was in the front seat with me.
We were silent, the radio was on and out of nowhere he asks me who I would teletransport to if the world was ending. “Well I suppose I would teletransport to Dad.” (Dear Reader: don’t worry if you don’t really know what ‘teletransport’ means, I was just going with the flow and using his terminology. I am not sure why we could just not drive there but as the world is ending, perhaps this is how people get about in the future.) “Oh I would too.” Dylan said sounding somewhat relieved. “In fact we all will” he said gesturing to include his siblings in the car. “That way we will be together.”
Okay Dyl. I am glad we have figured that out.
I got my own dad a Father’s Day card that says ‘Know why I got this card saying what a wonderful, terrific Dad you are?’ ‘Because you always taught me to tell the truth.’
Oh my Dad has many wonderful qualities. But I did find a chink in the armor of truthfulness in regards to bringing home supplies from work. The pens in our house were all imprinted with ‘Property of the U.S. Government.
Compliments vs. Complements. It is a common mistake to misspell ‘Complementary’ therapy as ‘Complimentary’ therapy although that sounds good too (“My don’t you look nice today Darla,” “Why thank you Charlene, have you lost weight recently?”) Complementary therapies is called such because it ‘complements’ or is in addition to what is usually on offer. In the case of Hospice, Complementary Therapies partner the medical side of things perfectly, providing a ‘whole person’ type of care.
But seriously, you DO look fabulous today!
Rachel Yantzer, Complementary Therapies Manager, shares the story of one of our pediatric patients, Baby Brianna. Born with Trisomy 8b with a life expectancy of only a few weeks, her muscles had contracted, contorting her little body into a tight knotted ball. After one visit, Rachel was able to loosen her muscles and get her to relax. As the tension was soothed away this little girl began to visibly expand, like an unfurling rose. At the end of the session, Rachel was able to hand a calm, peaceful baby back to her mother and father who could now do the same thing for their little girl.
A terminally ill mother of two and her husband were in our Fred Lowthian Care Center. Their two middle aged school children were having a very rough time coming to terms with the impending loss of their mother. The son had virtually closed up completely and was not talking to anyone. Our Complementary Therapies team were there to find ways to communicate with them on their terms and at their level. Art was a way in. Julie asked them to take their pick of our art materials and worked with them to recreate their favorite memory of their mother and then share it with her. Her son, using cardboard and paints, recreated a representation of robot. He wanted to share his memory of him and his mother working on a science project together that had won a prize at the school fair. Her daughter layered colored sand in a bottle using her mother’s favorite colors. She spoke to her mother about their summers spent at the beach and how much they had both loved walking barefoot in the sand. They were both able to make keepsake items connected with past memories and a new memory of how they had spent their mother’s last days remembering the good times together.
Could you play your harp for me?
Our therapeutic musicians are in high demand, both at our care center and also for those being cared for in their homes. The goal of hospice or palliative care is not ‘cure’ but is management of symptoms of the illness or disease in order to relieve pain, thus ensuring the patient has the best quality of life possible in their time remaining.
Therapeutic musicians ‘play’ a part in a well orchestrated approach to pain relief by a multidisciplinary team. Music can be either a sedative or stimulating, the practitioner can be guided by the patient, as to what approach to take. As you can imagine, someone dealing with a terminal illness potentially has many things to be anxious about: fear of death, uncertainty as to what lies ahead, depression, worries about their economic status, family worries and anticipation of pain.
Research has found that sound and music act to suppress pain, distract and promote relaxation.
Rachel, the Complementary Therapy Co-ordinator for Hospice of Kitsap County tells people new to working in Hospice “All your beliefs will change.” She has massaged people until they have died. People ask how do you do it? I believe that our bodies decay but we, our souls, are eternal.
I ask “What is the hospice story?” “What sets us apart?”
“I don’t know!” She says exasperated but laughing. “I am only a small part of it. Don’t you know?”
We continue talking. She changes her mind, she does a waving motion to indicate the space between us, “This right here is the best thing we have going on. Our rapport with people, that is what sets us apart.
All of this is dependent on public support. Can you help? $10 pays for an hour of massage for a terminally ill patient.
Tele – From Ancient Greek, At a distance, far off, far away, far from.
Been thinking about communication and the whole man/woman thing. If you are a woman, you would have noticed there are a lot of men about.
At my last job we had for a short while, a young 20 year old college student who was helping us out on her break from college. She had gone to an all-girls high school and she was lamenting the fact that there were boys in her classes at college. She just wasn’t used to it! She was finding it hard to get her work done, she liked the socializing mind you, but as far as actual learning with disruptive males around, uh-uh.
I was in mixed schools for all of my education and I really liked it. I liked/like male company I had/have a good number of male friends. I wouldn’t say I am particularly a boy’s girl or a girl’s girl. I don’t think I am in the category of ‘overly sensitive’ female and I grew up with a lot of male cousins and Uncles which I think trained me up to take teasing and being given a hard time and the ability to give it back.
What brought this all about? Well in different situations, different males will come out with the same lines to me: “And that is the difference between you and me.” Oh honey. You are not the first to use that line on me, you probably won’t be the last and I know exactly what that means. It means that you think your way of doing things is better. Well at least you admit it so that is good. There’s also the line “In your world.” Whatever.
There are lines I use repeatedly with my children in an effort to pound certain routines or ways of doing things into their head. One of them is “Put clean underwear on.” “A new pair, everyday.” (whether you need it or not. Ha!) Realizing I say these things often, to sometimes no effect reminds me of the Gary Larson cartoon ‘What dogs hear’ (when humans talk to them) ‘Blah, blah, blah blah blah.’ Just like we hear ‘bark, bark, bark, bark.’ Or there’s always thinking that you come across sounding like Charlie Brown’s teacher.
Here are some American English colloquialisms: “I know, right?” The person saying this means that they agree with whatever observation you have just voiced out loud.
*face palm* This is more of a written thing. It means what it says but I always get it wrong and write something like ‘upturned face to palm’ like I am giving stage directions.
I just saw a merc whose license plate holder (rear) said ‘Chains required, whips optional.’ The front one was more traditional saying ‘Happiness is being the mother of three kids.’ Ermagod! Now I like ‘Ermagod’ being what ‘Oh my God’ sounds like in certain accents.
This Queen’s English phrase that I picked up really annoyed my American friend “Whatever, whatever.” ” Stop saying that! It’s redundant!” “Yes, but it’s fun to say.”
I discovered something about myself recently: I don’t like swearing. Maybe I have always known it but I am now coming out of the closet as a non-swearer. For some people, it is just the pattern of how they speak and they don’t even notice it. I was going through Wimbledon station with Florence when she was young and the ticket checker at the stalls was effin’ and blinding; (good terms, aye?) and I asked him in my loud American voice to please stop talking like that when there were kids around. He did. I asked a teenager on the bus to stop smoking (while we were on the bus, mind you). He did. A frustrated I.T. (such a different meaning from an IT girl in London) man let it rip roar at work. I shouted from my office for him to stop. He did. It was pointed out to me that I am like this having been a mother in one form or another since I was 24. Also, having lived in England for 14 years there are so many more words to choose from than the usual F-bomb. (Stupid word but it fits.) Bloody this or bloody that. Minging’ minger. Like monopoly and play money, to an American these are like play swear words, except they have real currency.
Yesterday I posted that a few things about my son 1) I was excited and nervous about him heading off for an overnight camping trip with school and 2) He had got into the AGATE (talented and gifted) program here, or at least is on the waiting list for his grade. A former school mate commented “The apple does not fall far from the tree!” This made me laugh and I immediately remembered that we had both been in Mrs. Brown’s TAG class at Naples American High School. Also in regards to field trips our class had gone to EAST BERLIN WHEN THE WALL WAS STILL UP! Okay, I was older than 10 but my parents weren’t with me on that trip so suddenly my son going camping in the Olympic National Forests seems alright.
Also I remembered that my field trip back in 4th grade with Mrs. Stevens at St. Cornelius (who happened to have been my father’s first grade teacher at St. Barnabus) was to the LONG BEACH WATER DEPARTMENT.
But here is the strangest field trip of all: Clare a former work colleague had a field trip to an ABBOTOIR.Also known as a slaughterhouse. She is now a vegetarian.