Monday, March 1, 2010

Back to Business

Okay, back to blogging.

Buenas dias el dia primo de la semana. Y... 1 de marzo!

Can't believe it's March already... well actually, I can. It feels like I've been here much, much longer than a month. I've been able to do so much since when I left Pittsburgh...

Today we're going to a birthday celebration some of the care team is throwing for a patient -- how cute! Later I think we're going to a company marketing program, presented by one of our HHCs. I also believe the MT is going to be presenting on MTx with hospice.

The day still hasn't really started rolling yet so... I guess I'll write more later!

Ok. It is now later. So here's the rest of today (before it's over!):

The MT and I went to a care facility where we met up with our co. president, ED, Dir. of Ed, and an HCC. There we had a little birthday celebration for our oldest pt who turned 102! (WOW!) She wasn't very with it unfortunately... the MT sang her "Happy Birthday" and a couple other traditional tunes. There were other pts in the room as well, and they ended up benefiting from the little music session I think more than our pt did. One pt was seated at a table, slumped over in her wheelchair, her forehead almost touching her knees. She seemed pretty unresponsive, but as soon as the MT started singing "Home on the Range," the little old lady proved us wrong! She began singing every word to the song, howling away, and singing like no one was listening. Another pt soon joined in. One of the facility staff members mentioned how she used to be a singer. They encouraged her to keep singing, knowing how it was something she used to enjoy. Some of the other pts shook little egg shakers with the help of an aide. It seems everyone had a good time! If only our pt really knew what was going on, and that it was all in celebration of her! Our ED suggested we do more next time, like tie a birthday balloon to the patient's chair, or give the patient a crown to wear, since the celebration sort of came and went with us. With something like a balloon or crown, the festiveness of the occasion can remain for the rest of the day, even after we leave.

Our second stop was a nearby facility where three of our pts live. The MT went and saw our little old lady in her room while I stayed in the gathering space where our male pt was. One of the facility aides was leading a ring toss exercise with the pts, so I encouraged her to continue with what she was doing, even while I play -- the less attention on me the better! I grabbed the guitar and stepped in front of our pt, whom I'll call pt A. I completely froze and vamped on a G chord for what seemed like an eternity. Finally I just started singing Hello 'pt A' in whatever melody came to me. I basically just began conversing with him, but through singing. Of course, it was a one-sided conversation since he didn't verbalize back to me. He was so cute, sitting there with his plaid hat with his tiny little eyes staring back at me. (Pt A is the man with all the flem who coughed on me a week ago.) He was awake and seemed more attentive to the music today, so I sang "It's so nice to see your eyes today!" But of course, right after I said that, he looked away (ha ha ha Pt A! very funny!) I figured I should sing at least one song for the group, as ever time I looked behind me, they were all sitting there in heightened anticipation. I sang "Peace Like A River," as it was the only song other than "Amazing Grace" that I could think of at the moment. I stood by Pt A as I sang, but looked around the room and tried to sing to everyone who was present.

After the third verse, I turned back to Pt A and continued to try and engage him 1-1. He kept looking at the guitar, so I asked if he wanted to strum the strings. I reached for his hand and tried to put his hand to the strings. He grasped my hand gently in his, but I couldn't seem to guide his hand to strum the guitar. As I was doing this, the MT came back from seeing her pt. She reminded me that Pt A was the man who was a POW and that they used to torture him by ripping off his fingernails, therefore making him overly sensitive about people touching his hands. I remembered her telling me this when I first started, but didn't make the connection that it was this particular pt. So, of course the one pt I encourage to play the guitar with his fingers is the one who has horrific memories tied to his hands. Just my luck. I felt horrible, but I don't think I frightened or offended him. The way he held my hand was gentle and non-threatening.

We eventually left to go see our third pt as this facility. She is the pt whose mother was just added to our services, and who sadly passed away last week. When we got to her room, the pt was laying down in her bed, trying to sleep the week away. She explained to us that she wasn't grieving or sad about her mother's death, but rather stressed over all the to-do's associated with memorial arrangements and so forth...

She told us she was going to just be passive this time and to go ahead and play whatever we wanted, and to even use her as a guinea pig for any songs we haven't mastered yet. The MT let me choose songs from the songbook that were less than 50 years old (YAY!) like a John Mayer song, some James Taylor, Jim Croce, etc. Even the pt continued to rest her eyes and lay in bed, she joined us by harmonizing to every tune we sang, as if she listened to that particular song every day. She approaches our sessions from an interesting perspective... sometimes I feel like it's some sort of masterclass, where she teaches us the proper harmonizations or melodies of certain songs, and has the MT notate and dictate and follow her lead. I mean, it's not a bad thing... just different I suppose.

After lunch, we went to a marketing presentation at a newly contracted facility. There, the MT presented on the basics of MT and hospice and provided music examples. Then our ED presented on what hospice and palliative care is, and two programs our company has the other hospices don't: the one program I just learned about where the HHAs stimulate the pts senses during their baths if they have dementia, and our policy where we accept pts who have a terminal diagnosis but are still seeking curative treatments. These two programs and our full-time MT make up three examples of how our company stands out from other hospices and show that we go above and beyond with patient care.

The last thing I did today was call the very first pt I saw here in California to see if she would want me to come for a late afternoon MT session. Her caretaker answered the phone and told me she had just gone to sleep, so I told her we'd try again later this week.

Tomorrow is our big 1-year anniversary open house!

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