Thursday, November 6, 2008

More About Our Hospice Visit

I wanted to write a little more about my Hospice experience earlier this week. It's cathartic for me to write about it and I also thought that perhaps other people might become interested in volunteering if they know more about what it is like.

One woman Katie and I visited was a little out of it...probably from pain meds. I asked her from the doorway if she wanted a visit from a large dog. She didn't really respond, but didn't seem opposed to us coming in. Her brain was functioning quite slowly and it took her eyes a while to send her brain the message of what she was seeing. After many seconds had passed her eyes got huge and I realized she was finally "seeing" Katie. I immediately started reassuring her that Katie was very, very sweet and the woman relaxed right away. She very slowly told me that she likes dogs. The woman was so frail and small in her hospital bed. I wanted so badly to embrace her, rub her back and kiss her cheek. I satisfied myself with rubbing her arm and trying to send her every ounce of loving energy that I could. I swear she was soaking it up. I could see it in her sweet face.

There was another lady, probably around 85 years old, who got very flustered when she tried to talk. Her brain also wasn't working well. She said "I'm sorry I'm not making sense". Without thinking I reached down and grabbed her hand and said "Don't worry about it sweetie. It's just fine.". I immediately mentally chastised myself a bit for calling her sweetie. I was hoping she didn't take it as me being condescending... needless worry on my part. She was so happy to hear that - she had been quite embarrassed about not making sense and was glad to hear my reassurance. She squeezed my hand tight, told me I was an angel and then kissed the back of my hand. How could my whole mindset not change after that. We held hands for the rest of the visit.

It's difficult to be with people who are dying, but I am really looking forward to going again next week. If Katie and I can give these people even a tiny bit of comfort I want to do that. Also, I feel that these people have a lot to teach me. Tuesday night alone was one of the most important lessons of my life.


with love, Madison said...

Hi! We are already thinking about getting Madison into some kind of service work -- she has the most lovely temperament and lots of her "relatives" are therapy dogs. What a wonderful thing you are doing with the hospice visits.

The Zoo said...

Oh that is just awesome! It's so rewarding what you & Katie are doing. I bet you bring a lot of comfort to those in times of loneliness.

The Seeker said...

Hospice is such a wonderful organization. We had it with my mom. It is nice that animal lovers can also have the companionship of dogs. I fully believe in pet therapy!

Kathryn and Ari said...

I really admire you: you have such warmth and compassion--and I know that everyone you meet at hospice can feel all of that and more. Thanks for sharing these stories--they make us want to work extra hard on our CGC test training.