Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Open House

What. A long. Day.......

I called in for stand-up today at 8:45am, and put my blackberry on speakerphone in the bathroom while I straightened my hair (never mess with a girl who can multi-task!) I left the house around 9:15am and drove to the SNF where I saw two actively dying pts last week. The activity aides gathered the pts in the large room for our little "memorial service," so they were all present and waiting by the time we got there. I looked around the room and was sad to see that this time, since the two pts had passed last week, only one pt was left. She was bundled up in a pretty heart blanket in her geri chair, fast asleep. There were about 20 to 30 pts gathered, and they were all either sleeping, or seemingly disoriented. I didn't mind that we were there, but I did feel a bit silly having a memorial service for a bunch of pts who were asleep or wouldn't understand what was going on. The MT organized the service by alternating familiar spiritual songs with moments of silence, reflecting on the pts who passed, honoring their memory, etc.

Boy did these sleepy disoriented pts prove me wrong! Not only were the pts fully capable of comprehending the purpose of our gathering, but some even shared memories, sang along, and shed some tears. One pt said that our pts who passed are in a good place now, and they're happy because they know they beat us to it! Another pt sobbed as he told the MT that our dear "Mary" was 99 years old. One of the activity aides added that she had a good heart.

After the MT initially began singing, I went over and knelt next to our sole survivor of the group. She looked asleep, but I stayed next to her anyway as I sang along with the MT. After the song was over, I heard a tiny voice say, "That was good! That was real good!" I looked to my left and realized it was our pt who was talking. She had picked her head up ever so slightly and struggled to open her eyes. As she continued to look around the room, the pt seated next to her was staring blankly in front of her, yet singing every word to "When the Saints Go Marching In." Honestly, almost every pt made me a fool today. You know what they say about people who assume... Some pts grieved, others sang, our little pt spoke to me... it ended up being a really nice memorial that was truly appreciated by most who attended (there were still some pts who just slept the whole time -- but that's bound to happen, and it's okay.)

After the service, I stayed at the facility to see our other pt residing there. She was the nice pt I met the other week who actually likes the Beatles and other music from post 1950 (yay!) I got to her room the same time as one of our nurses, so we went in together, and the nurse (re)introduced me to the pt. She then presented her with a special little treat she brought for her, a Snickers bar. After the nurse left, I got out the guitar and sat down in the chair at her bedside. We ended up having a really great session, full of songs from the 60's and the pt sharing life stories. Some of the songs we sang together were
  • All My Loving
  • Leaving on a Jet Plane
  • Sound of Silence
  • I Wanna Hold Your Hand
  • Blue Skies
The pt told me sooo many stories. Let's see... (All My Loving) she told me she was married to her husband for 50 years. I asked if it had been hard for her since he passed, but she told me no because she's grateful for all the wonderful memories and that he had lung cancer and doesn't have to be in pain anymore. (Leaving on a Jet Plane) She told me they used to live in Chicago, but they moved to NYC. They took a plane there, and they hit a bad storm, so they had to circle the airport in New York for 3 hours before they could land. After that, she refused to ride a plane for 10 years. Finally, her husband convinced her to join him for a lunch date with a friend and fly to Bermuda, and now she's okay with riding on planes again. She requested a song that I knew well (I'm blanking on the title right now...) but I couldn't remember all the lyrics to it. I told her that I can sing along to the radio and know all the words to so many songs, but when it comes time to remember the lyrics on my own, my mind goes blank. She then told me that she used to watch or listen to a show when she was young, before college, that played the top 20 songs at that time, and she could sing the words to all the songs. She debated whether it was on TV or the radio, so we tried to figure out when TV was invented. I mentioned that I'm pretty sure people had to listen to the radio for the news during WWII, and she told me I was right and that it must have been a radio show. She said she was in college during the war, but was only 16 at the time since she graduated high school early (smart cookie!) I asked if a lot of her friends at college were drafted for the war, and she said yes and that it was sad to see them go. She then added that the same thing is happening today with the war in Iraq, but at least during WWII, we knew what they were fighting for and it seemed more worthwhile. Today they're fighting so the men in charge can put some extra change in their pockets.

(Sound of Silence) "What do you think they mean by 'sound of silence'?" she asked. Unsure of the answer, we looked at some of the other lyrics of the song. The pt interpreted the "neon gods they made" as a reference to television (the influence media has over the public.) "People talking without speaking, people hearing without listening." The pt told me that a lot of times, people today just talk without saying anything meaningful or purposeful, and when they listen to you, they don't actually care to hear what you're saying; it's all 'in one ear, out the other.'

I forgot to mention something she told me when talking about Chicago. She used to work in the Wrigley Building as a receptionist for the actors studio. She wanted to work there because it was such a big, beautiful white building. She enjoyed her job there, but had to move when her husband got a job in sales for CBS. He later got promoted to head of sales for the west coast, and so, they reluctantly packed up for California, even though they loved living in Connecticut near NYC. She told me she hates it here, but her husband's promotion was too good to pass up.

(I Wanna Hold Your Hand) The pt and her husband were married for over 50 years and were truly in love. They had three children together -- the pt only briefly mentioned her having children, and refined her topics to her own life experiences and her husband -- perhaps she is not on good terms with her children currently?...

An hour had passed and it was time for me to leave. I told her that I could stay and talk/play music with her all day. She said she really enjoyed our visit and wishes I could stay all day too. I can tell she's miserable and lonely at that facility. She's cognitively much higher functioning than most of the pts I've seen there... it's like she's being held hostage in some sort of hospital asylum... I really could have stayed all day and talked to her... it was a really enjoyable part of my day and I think her MT sessions really help with any isolation/loneliness issues she might be having. If only we could spend even more time with her!

After lunch, the MT and I met at a pt's home south of the office near the beach. This pt enjoys planning tea parties and having friends over, and has incorporated the MT into her get-togethers. She mentioned that it was such a nice service that she had to share it with her friends. It was a party of about 10 women, ages 60-80. They were all nicely dressed and amiable in nature. I arrived first, and set up the keyboard the MT is letting me borrow (it's smaller than mine, and much more portable.) The MT and I took requests and played a variety of songs, from John Denver to Elvis to Dona Nobis Pacem to Besame Mucho to classical tunes on the keyboard. The MT invited the women to share a little bit about themselves. They told us where they originated from (mostly from out of state) and other details such as stories about their families, and where their grandchildren went to school, etc.

It was a fun little gig for the MT and I... at first, it doesn't seem much like music therapy, and more like some friends offering an hour of music entertainment. However, the pt is someone who likes to plan events and be the hostess, so by helping her host events for her friends makes a huge difference in her socialization and quality of life. Entertaining guests is something she considers important and rewarding, so by helping her do that, we are providing a service that falls under her plan of care. (Or at least this is what I believe to be the case...)

The rest of the afternoon/evening was spent entertaining guests at our company's big one-year open house. Us playing background music while the guests mingle would be a good juxtaposition for the pt's tea party we played for earlier. Pt tea party = music therapy (facilitating socialization for the pt) company open house = not music therapy, but still, advocating and marketing for the company and showing the guests that we are able musicians who can play a wide range of music which can be used to serve our pts.

Ok this blog entry could have been written much much better, but it's 1:15am and I'm exhausted so it's going to have to do for now!

1 comment:

  1. that sounds like a very busy and eventful day!

    -Aaron :)