For February 18, 2010:
This morning, I left around 9:00am to meet the MT at the first pt’s SNF. She was sitting in her room, nicely dressed, eyes glazed with shadow, and lips puckered in a pale red shade. Her caretaker was there by her side. The pt was so excited to see the MT since she absolutely loves music therapy. When the MT sang a song, the pt just gazed up at her, like a yearning child watching her idol, mumbling along with some lyrics here and there, some jumbled syllables. She was captivated by the music, and also having someone sing to/with her. The MT asked a couple of times throughout the session if she had any songs in particular she would like to hear, but she left the song choosing up to the MT and continued to contently listen. The MT had me play a couple songs for her as well. I can sing along and guess at the lyrics I don’t know when the MT has the guitar in hand, but as soon as she hands over the reigns to me, I freeze, and all songs except “Amazing Grace” leave my memory. I can’t think of song titles, lyrics, what chords to play… I think the older population intimidates me because I know I am still quite unfamiliar with songs they would recognize and enjoy. I could play her a Jason Mraz tune or some Coldplay, but she wants to hear songs from the 20’s, 30’s, and around that time.
Fortunately, the pt’s health has been improving, but unfortunately, she is now no longer appropriate for hospice services. The MT tried breaking the news to her, but as she was beginning to utter the words, the pt looked up at her and said, “I love when you come and sing. It makes me so happy. It really brightens my day.” How do you tell a pt you can no longer see them when they look you in the eye and tell you that?!
The MT plans on visiting her one more time before she is officially discharged from our services, but who knows what the future will bring… maybe she’ll become eligible again, or maybe she can hire the MT personally.
The second pt we saw this morning was a new admit living in a board and care. It was also a beautiful California ranch house in a nice, quiet neighborhood. The pt was reclined in her chair in the living room, with three other pt’s seated on the couch and easy chair. At this visit, we were not the only hospice workers there. Another hospice employ from a different company was there to see one of the other pts. She was unloading her car right when we got there, so we ended up entering the house as one big trio. She was the epitome of a California girl. Shame on me, I judged her immediately. It turns out that she was a bundle of energy, full of love for her pts, and the pts loved her in return. :)
The pt at this house was filled with love and emotion. She offered everyone love, and freely allowed herself to experience every second of the visit. She cried when we sang of love, shared stories about traveling around the country, and talked about her beautiful home in Texas. The people she mentioned most were one of her daughters, and her new love, “John.” She often would repeat positive things her daughter has told her, as if saying, “Well, my daughter said these things about me, so I guess they’re true.” Her daughter keeps in contact with her every day, and it really makes a difference in the pt’s life.
The second person she often mentioned was away at an activity for the day. She missed him so much and couldn’t wait for him to return. At the end of the session, she confided in me that he worries about being separated from her, because he’s afraid she’ll leave him when he’s away. She continuously told us how much she loved him, and how much he loved her in return. It was nice to see that she was able to form such a special relationship with another resident, providing her with increased support through this last stage of her life.
When the MT played a song with poetic lyrics, the pt cried. When I played piano, the pt cried. She expressed her gratitude for having music the entire session, not just at the end. We stayed with her for over an hour. She really opened up and was enjoying the music immensely.
As we said our good-byes, the pt gave the MT and I “kisses from God,” which were small kisses on our foreheads. She explained to me that the forehead is the eye of the Spirit, and that’s where you give kisses from God.
Together, we reminisced, talked about death, talked about loved ones and relationships, engaged the other pts (and the other hospice worker), held her hands and provided emotional support… she was an amazing pt and I hope I get to visit with her again!
In the afternoon, we drove to a facility about 20 miles away. It smelled awful. There, we saw two patients. The first patient was an older male, who shared a room with his wife. When we entered, the two were in their respective beds situated on opposite sides of the room. Our pt was fast asleep, but his wife awoke to our arrival. We invited her to come sit by her husband while we play some music. Already my heart was broken, walking in a room of a married couple, their beds on opposing walls. She sat by her husband and looked up at the MT, ready and waiting. As the MT began to sing, the pt’s wife joined right in, perfectly in tune. She later told us she used to be in many choirs!
The pt awoke to the music, and listened for awhile, his eyes taking long, slow blinks. He eventually fell back asleep though, and it was just the three girls singing once again.
As we packed up to leave, the pt’s wife joked about the three of us going on the road to sing as a group. She patted her husband’s leg and said, “Sorry Grandpa, we’re gonna hit the road!” The woman called her husband “Grandpa.” I thought she was just being silly at first, but she repeatedly called him “Grandpa,” or “old man”… that’s when I realized her dementia was so advanced that she could very possibly view him as an old man, while believing she is still a young woman who could very well go on the road and sing. I felt a couple tears come to my eyes. It was the most innocent yet saddest situation… the mind of a young girl, trapped in an aged body, further trapped in a room with this “old man,” the man she was once in love with. Since our pt is extremely weak himself, I don’t think either of them really notice that their relationship has changed from lovers to “old man” and young, friendly companion. All the years they spent together just seemed to disappear…
The second pt we saw at the facility and the last pt of the day was asleep in her room. The MT believes this is the pt who cursed out one of our nurses… As we began to sing, her eyelashes batted up and down. She heard the music, but did not want to wake up. We sang a few songs, but only stayed about 10 minutes. The MT tried rubbing her shoulder and offering a comforting touch while I played the guitar and sang. Hopefully the pt felt comforted by our presence and the music… I think she’s just a tough one to crack (hehe).
After pt #4 of the day, we drove back to the office to do some documentation before our psychosocial meeting.
The meeting lasted for about an hour, giving me about 15 minutes to freak out about how I have to play music tonight for a bunch of people I don’t know.
Then I threw the guitar in the back of the mom-mobile, and started off on my journey to a new city for a marketing birthday social event. Of course, the address I type into the GPS doesn’t even exist, so I decided to just drive to the road and figure it out from there. After driving past my exit that was closed and through a major intersection with broken lights, I decided at the last minute that I would search for the hospital under points of interest under my GPS. The best thing I could find was a speciality outpatient unit, so I just set that as my destination. I finally got frustrated with that, stopped at a mattress store to ask where the hospital was, drove to the hospital, called the marketer, and found out they’re not actually at the hospital, but another facility owned by the hospital. The markerter told me I was close and to just go further down the street and turn right. I drove further down the street… and further down the street… and further down the street… and finally decided I was going further down the WRONG street… I turned around and drove the right direction down the street (having to stop every 50 feet for another red light) and finally reached my destination an hour and a half after I left the office.
The marketer teamed together with a couple other staff members from the hospital facility to throw a little birthday party for two nurses. There was food, margaritas, lots of nurses I didn’t know, and a little scared MTI with a guitar. I played “This One’s For the Girls” for them, which almost completely applied, but of course, two seconds before I go to play the song, a man walks through the room.
After the song and some food and drinks (I opted out of the margarita – can’t drink and drive!) we sang “Happy Birthday” and cut the cake.
Despite the fact that it took an hour and a half to find the place and I only knew one person there, it was an enjoyable evening and all the people were really nice. They were very interested in music therapy, and now that I work for a hospice company, I can narrow down my definition of music therapy, instead of trying to describe the entire scope of our practice in two sentences. Now when people ask what music therapy is, I can say, “Well with our hospice patients, we can…” Hopefully what I said sticks in their minds and they remember music therapy and our company!
At last, 12 hours later, I made it back home. It was a long long long day, so sorry I didn’t get this posted when it was supposed to be!
But in other better news… IT’S FRIDAY!!