Friday, March 19, 2010

6 weeks down, 20 weeks to go

Day 2 of being on my own!

Since we've been so busy this week with meetings and in-services, I felt like we didn't get to see many pts! So today, I saw 6 patients. My first stop was to a board in care not too far from where I live. This blog writing thing is getting to be so frustrating with not being able to use names of people and places! "Oh, then we went to that place with that one guy with the beard and that lady who likes to laugh... then we went to that place with the piano and..." Ughhh!! Haha sorrry. Anyway, it's the board and care with the young aide who played guitar for us last time. The residents were gathered in the dining room for their morning snack. I stood in the back corner next to our pt so I could be near him, while still being visible to the other residents. The pt greeted me with a cute little smile. The mood seemed a bit dull, so I started with a few slower songs, then picked up the pace with some fast, upbeat songs. During the faster songs, our pt clapped along, and, once again, was horribly off-beat. I think I may even like it better if they can't keep a beat... it tells me that they're doing it because they want to and because it makes them happy, not because they know how or can. It puts a bit of a different motivational spin on it, I think. We sang songs from the 20's all the way up to the 70's. I gave our pt and one other pt an egg shaker. He shook that egg shaker every single song whether it was an egg-shaking kind of song or not! He was just so into it! He didn't even stop shaking to eat his snack (which he ended up pushing towards me while I was singing, offering his yogurt and bananas to me -- thank you!, how sweet!)

After we sang our last song, I told the pt that he did a marvelous job and that he should be a professional egg shaker. He blushed and graciously thanked me as if I just awarded him the Nobel Prize. He was just so darling. It's so nice to have pts who are so responsive and make it easy to tell whether the music helped them or not. I'm a little bummed that his wife wasn't there today. She was the adorable little Asian lady who almost followed us out the door last time like a lost little puppy. The two of them together is the most precious thing. It's so nice that they both can live in the same board and care together, and both have dementia. I feel so bad for the spouses who have to watch their husband or wife decline as they stay perfectly healthy...

Next stop: Back to that place I was at last night! Again! Yay!
I came here to see the memory care pts, since they were eating dinner when I was there last night. Our little "Minnie" was asleep in her room, the 2nd pt was out for a drive (don't worry, she wasn't the one driving), and the other 2 were conveniently sitting in the dining room together at a table off by themselves. Inconveniently, the crazy one-armed pt who pulled out Minnie's hair last month followed me over to the table and stayed by my side for the whole visit. That woman kept trying to speak over my singing and even tried to steal my bag! (which is really heavy, so I totally underestimated her strength and ability to pick things up!)

I stayed with the two ladies for about 45 minutes, but got pretty much no response from either of them. The one had her eyes closed for most of the time, and the other was busy looking around the room, and combing her hair with a spoon. I met the daughter of the spoon comber last night, and she said she hasn't verbalized a full sentence in years, so her lack of response was entirely disappointing or surprising to me. I realize that these pts don't respond much to anything, but I'm always so hopeful going into it, with full anticipation that music is going to make them snap out of their dementia. I know people don't snap out of dementia. But I also think the music can really help them! I just don't know how to let the music help them... not yet at least... but I'll find a way. I won't give up on them that easily.

When I went to the 2nd floor to chart on the pts, I stopped in to see our pt who is slowly leaving us. Before I went in, a nurse there sadly told me he wasn't having a good day. It seems he wasn't only a favorite pt of our company's, but also at this facility. The man loves Sinatra, but I don't know any Sinatra! (Sinful, I know.) The whole time I was playing, I kept thinking to myself, "This isn't what he wants! Play some "Fly Me to the Moon"!) I really wish I could have played him something he liked more. Maybe this experience will motivate me to learn some Frank Sinatra tunes, even though I'll never ever sound as good as he does. :( (I'd kill to be able to sing those smooth turns like Frank Sinatra and Bing Crosby!)

3rd thing on the agenda for today: National Music Therapy Conference Call. Won't go into detail about that :) Just an opportunity for the other therapists in the company to toss around ideas and discuss issues they may be having.

Stop #4 of the day was too see the pt whose family was saddened by the fact that she doesn't focus her eyes well anymore. When I finally found her room, her son was there, sitting in a chair at the foot of her bed, listening to his iPod. He politely greeted me and turned off his music to listen to mine. I played a few slow songs to help her rest. Then I asked her her favorite kind of music. I wasn't expecting a response, but wanted to ask her anyway. Her son chuckled and said, "She no understand English. She only speak Taiwanese." I jokingly said to the son, "Well she's probably wondering who this crazy person with the guitar is, singing songs in funny languages to her!" "Oh, no no," he said. "She like music. She hate music when I play mp3 for her in room. But don't worry, she like your music." He was really nice. I spoke to him a bit about his sisters being out of the country, and asked him how long he's been in America, etc. Asking an Asian person with a thick accent how long they have lived in America seems like an obvious question to ask, but when they ask the question to me in return, I'm always a bit surprised and confused, like "why are they asking me?? I'm American!" Then I have to remind myself that I'm Asian too... Asian people seem to take great comfort in seeing others of the same race (like the Korean couple who waved me down at Six Flags, asking if I was Korean too)... hopefully I can offer them some comfort just by being someone they can somewhat relate to or feel comfortable around.

My last patient of the day is one of my favorites -- our Miss Chicago. A lot of the stories she told me today were repeats from our last visit, but I just acted like it was the first time I heard it, unless she asks if she told me before, which of course then I'm honest and say yes. She told me about how in college, she accidentally signed up for an Entomology course instead of the Etymology course, and she ended up learning lots of interesting facts about bugs -- like when an ant gets stepped on, the other ants will wait for the area to be clear of people, and then will go and collect the smushed ant's body and bury it! I felt so guilty for ever squashing a bug! She said that ever since that class, she never hurts bugs, because they're all such fascinating creatures, and some, have more good in their hearts than people!

We also talked a lot about Schwarzenegger -- she hates Arnold Schwarzenegger! I told her we can write him an angry letter if she wants to, to which she responded, "I'm not sure how much good that'll do... the man probably can't even read... I'll have to recollect my 3rd grade writing skills just so he can understand it." That woman is full of sass, class, and sassafras. Love it. And she loves us too. She said it makes her day when we come to visit. They've been talking about discharging her from our services though... not sure if she's still hospice appropriate :(

And that was my day. Attempted to go to the beach to reward myself, but ended up driving there, not knowing what to do with myself, and driving home. Maybe I'll go to the beach tomorrow instead...

Happy weekend everybody! :)

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