I woke up early today, in time to make it to work by 8:45am in case the MT wanted to meet there. We didn't end up meeting till 10am at a care facility, so I was about a half hour ahead of schedule. The beach was an arm's length away, so I figured, why not go? What a way to start your day! Despite the winds and chilliness, I went for a short walk along the beach to kill time before meeting up with the MT. I even got to shoot some hoops with a local. By the time I got to the facility, I was up and ready to start the day! (Wish I still had that energy now!)
The new RN came to shadow the MT for her morning visit. I initially thought the nurse was only a few years older than me, but she recently told me that she has a son who is almost my age! Guess I miscalculated by about 20 years or so... I hope people think I'm 20 years younger than I really am when I'm her age! But anyway, the three of us went to go see the pt, but when we got to his room, he was fast asleep, snoring like a bear. (well... maybe like a bear cub... not a big bear...) So.... that was a bust. But things like this happen. You make plans, but they don't always work out. The MT ended up showing the RN a brief powerpoint about music therapy, just so she learned at least a little bit about what it is we do. I think it's nice that we're required to shadow the other members of the care team during orientation since we are a team, yet don't see pts together. This way, we know what each other does, can make appropriate referrals, etc.
Our second pt today was about 3 miles down the road from the facility. She is a new pt, so this was the first time the MT and I visited with her. She was living with her daughter and son-in-law in quite possibly the most beautiful house I've ever seen. The daughter kept apologizing for "the mess," but really, I have no idea what she was talking about. Everything was just breath-taking. They had the cutest little puppy, and two gorgeous ragdoll cats with bright blue eyes. I think I want to move in!
The daughter sat us down in the living room as she went to get her mother. She came back soon after with an adorable old lady wrapped up in blankets in her wheelchair. Her daughter said she was going to be turning 101 next month! The two sat facing us and patiently anticipated to hear some music. We sang some older songs, and the ladies listened and smiled. They had an upright piano nearby, so I played some of Beethoven's Pathetique (the Andante in Ab Major.) The piano was beautiful, but extremely hard to play, with some of the keys not even making sound. I wanted to stop playing as soon as I started, just because I thought it sounded loud and just plain awful, but I stuck it out and played 2 pages worth. The daughter said how the pt used to play piano. I instinctually almost blurted out "Oh why don't you play something then!" but I mean, the woman is almost 101 years old and is on hospice... playing the piano is probably a bit beyond what she can handle at the moment. I really do hate playing for other pianists though if they don't play as well. I feel like it's only fair for everyone who can play to play. But, since she is an experienced pianist, hopefully hearing someone play the piano brought some comfort or good memories to her.
The daughter's husband came home in the middle of the session, so the MT asked if he had any requests. He looked up with a pondering look, turned to walk away, then paused to request something from The Sound of Music. I was all ready to sing "Edelweiss," which I love, but of course it was missing from my songbook. Instead, we sang "The Hills Are Alive" and "My Favorite Things." The MT asked the pt, "What are some of your favorite things," hoping to spur some discussion and maybe some reminiscence, but the pt misunderstood. She thought the MT was asking her what her favorite songs were, so she responded, "Oh anything is fine." The MT rephrased it by asking, "Well what are some things that make you happy?" But the pt just responded, "Oh just play whatever makes you happy." She was too sweet. The mother and daughter both were just really kind, friendly women. Can you believe the pt's great-grandchildren are my age?! The woman lived long enough to see her great-granddaughter get married! How wonderful!
I was sad to leave my dream home, but it was time to move on. After lunch, we went to see another new admit. She was staying at a board and care, although not for long. She had just come from the hospital, where apparently she was neglected, poked, and prodded. When we got there, the pt was laying in bed, her eyes closed, and a look of distraught on her face. She looked skeletal, and her hair was scarce. We sang some soft, calming music for her. One of the aides even joined in and sang with us. She didn't speak at first, so I assumed she was non-verbal and possibly even comatose. Well, wrong guess -- again with the whole assumption thing -- by about the third song, the MT asked the pt if she would like to hear another one, and she said yes, and even commented that it sounded nice. Okay, so the pt was actually almost totally with it, and I immediately wrote her off as a dying vegetable. (<--that sounds way harsher than I what I meant...)
We ended up only staying for about fifteen minutes, but sometimes even just passive listening to music can wear a pt out, especially someone as weak as her. I'm sure we'll be seeing her again soon though...
Our last pt of the day was a cute gentleman who was also at a board and care. The workers there were a very nice married couple, both young and very friendly. The pt was sitting in a chair with his wife by his side. The two looked so in love, like they were two kids still in high school. One of the other pts living at the board and care wheeled herself into the room to listen to the music. The pt wasn't elderly and likes music more from the 50's on. Thank god! Songs I know! We started off with some improv, the MT on guitar, and me playing her wooden flute. Although I like to avoid playing wind instruments these days as I'm a bit out of practice, the wooden flute is pentatonic and doesn't squeak like a clarinet, so I was pretty much in safe territory. (I forgot to mention that the nurse was there when we arrived, and stayed for most of the session. You'd think having another staff member there would make me nervous, but I actually like it when the nurse is there. I guess it makes me feel like someone is there to actually witness and appreciate what we do for the pts. Our line of work is pretty unique, and I think it's something you have to witness first hand to truly understand and appreciate it.)
We ended up staying for a good hour with the pt. He didn't really speak, but he did smile a lot. The opposite goes for the pt who weaseled herself into our session. She talked up a storm. I think it's fine that she was there and it's great she took an interest in the music, but we're there to see the pt and to engage him in the music and socialization. At times, she completely monopolized the session by talking about her own life and experiences. I was a bit flustered, as she shifted the focus from the pt and his wife to her own self, but maybe I was just over reacting.
The MT let me choose a lot of songs from my binder of songs that Katelyn and I used when we played at the hospital, so they were all songs I really like, and more importantly, knew well enough to sing. Although we didn't do much reminiscing with the pt, we did sing love songs, and I think we were able to honor the love between the pt and his wife, and to just provide some friendly company and sincere support for the pt.
Today ended early, which was good since all my energy from earlier was completely drained. I called the pt who lives near me to see if I could come visit her before I went home, but no one answered. I left a message on their answering machine, and in the middle of it, realized I didn't know the company phone number or my blackberry phone number. Yes, I gave a pt my cell phone number. I know you're not supposed to do that ever!, but this pt is a relative of one of our HCCs and I doubt they'll be calling me in the middle of the night. But, note to self - figure out a call back number to give before you call someone and leave a message.
And that's that. Until we meet again...