Friday, February 12, 2010


Hello all!

It's 63 degrees and sunny today here in the OC :) Let's see.... got to the office just in time for stand-up at 8:45. I thought I was going to a meeting about my internship at 9am, but they decided to just keep it a private meeting, which is fine, I respect that. So from 9:00-10:15 I looked up songs we could sing at Valentine's Day Celebration #2. I picked some Elvis, some Beatles, "Moon River," and some other tunes and printed out the chords and lyrics. Also got my TB test checked -- yay! no tuberculosis! for the 8 millionth time in the past 3 years :)

We left around 10:15am for a SNF in the southern regions of Orange County to play at a second Valentine's Day celebration. When we arrived, we stopped by to see one of our pts., said hello, and sang her a quick song since she didn't want to go to the reminiscence area and join the party. It was sad to see another young pt. She's only in her mid-50's, recently divorced, and has a 19 y.o. daughter who also seems to be struggling with some mental health issues. She was very sweet and apparently likes to sing as well!

We then to the reminiscence side where all the pts. were gathered, eating cookies and drinking punch. Again, I attempted to play some songs on piano, but I guess my skills aren't quite up to par yet. The chords I printed off weren't very accurate, and unfortunately I don't have the know-how yet to be able to figure the chords out on the spot in my head. One of these days though, when I gain more experience (and more confidence!), hopefully I'll be able to just play anything a pt. requests! Two of the pts. in this group were in our program, and even though the MT was sure to include them in our singing, she included the other pts. as well.

Our marketer dropped by to bring the nursing staff some cookies, and our social worker was nice enough to stay and listen to our music. Even though it's good business to get people on your good side by smiling, saying hi, bringing them cookies, etc., all the staff at these facilities are so nice that being friendly just comes naturally. I guess what I'm saying is, even though being extra nice is what you should be doing from a business stand-point, the kind acts shared between our staff and the staff at these facilities is genuine and from the heart (at least from what I can see!)

After we charted on the pts., we got back in the car to drive back north. After stopping for a quick bite to eat at this yummy new restaurant (I forget what it's called, but it has the most delicious chicken and rice bowls!), we went to a much smaller facility to see a new admission. He was an older Asian man just arrived at this facility after being d/c'ed from the hospital. We arrived the same time as our social worker, so the three of us went in together to meet the pt. He was laying in bed on his side, eyes closed, mouth gaped open. I sadly noticed build-up of saliva and mucus between his upper teeth and lip, and as an MTi, could not do anything about it. (Now that I think of it, I probably could have told his nurse...) I think one thing that will be hard during this internship is using my knowledge gained as a nursing assistant, but remembering not to put it into action. I'm not aloud to grab a mouth swab and perform any oral care on the pt. Anything that could be considered medical care is not something I'm permitted to do :( But anyway, the MT got out her guitar, and PIMA'd softly as the pt. slept. The social worker gently rubbed his arm. He opened his eyes occasionally, but never for more than a few seconds, and did not focus on anything in particular. The MT began softly humming, harmonizing with the simple I, IV, V chords she was playing. She then added some words. "We are here." "You are at peace." "All is well." We knew the man was Buddhist, so the MT tried to incorporate themes centered around peace and tranquility. I took over playing guitar for awhile so the MT could step out and check his medical chart. While I was playing, the pt.'s cousin and son entered the room. The social worker and I introduced ourselves, and I continued playing guitar for a little while longer. He continued to open his eyes every so often, but still, not for very long.

When the MT returned, I strummed one last chord and returned the guitar to her. Then, the MT and social worker just talked to the family, reminding them that they can always contact us, and a nurse is on-call 24/7. They made sure they knew that they were here for them, and that if they had any questions, they would either provide an answer themselves, or find someone who could. I suppose it's important to just put the family at ease as much as possible. They're going through a really hard time emotionally, and we need to be there for support in anyway.

I think the company's IDG is well-balanced in that it has a medical professional (nurse), an aide for that professional (HHA), a creative therapist to help with processing all the emotions of dying/losing a loved one (art and music therapy), a social worker to help the family find those resources for all the arrangements, finances, planning, etc., and a chaplain to talk the family through the whole process in a spiritual way.

After about an hour with the pt., we left him to be alone with his family. They said they're a very big family, and visit him in shifts, which is so nice that he doesn't have to be alone through this last stage of his life. They were all very nice and it was so sad to have to see them go through this. But, I guess in this line of work, I'll be seeing a lot of cases like this... death is a part of life... it's inevitable for even the strongest of us... at least there's things like hospice to help make the transition a smooth transition, so the pt. can die peacefully and not alone, and the family can come to accept the death in a healthy way.

And well, that was my day! I feel like I've learned so much already in only my first week here. So far, so good!

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