Sunday, April 29, 2012

A Different View

It has been awhile since my first hospice patient has passed. I had several other patients assigned to me since then, all of them deciding it was best to go see their heavenly Father right before I had the chance to visit them. I guess I can't take that too personally when I think about it. I mean, "Get a visit from me, a hospice volunteer, or go to heaven and live in eternity with God." It's a no-brainer really. However, I was glad to finally meet my second patient yesterday. A sweet young man that a progressive brain disorder has left him unable to speak with limited mobility. How different from my first patient, who with Alzheimer's, loved to tell me stories about the fish he caught and was getting ready to clean and cook up (in the nursing home) or all about the warm socks he was wearing because New York is cold in the winter, although he lived in Virginia at the time. :)
This new patient was far different. Only able to give me a thumbs up or down for yes and no (and sometimes getting those mixed up) he moved about with his walker ever-so-slowly, walking circles around the few rooms he visited each day, almost as if he were searching for something. After watching TV and walking circles for about an hour, I decided to fire up my iPad and call up a few games. Encouraging this patient to have a seat at the table, I placed the iPad in front of him. Looking down at a Bowling game I called up, he immediately gave me a "thumbs down"; but after seeing him eat a wonderful lunch and doing a fantastic job at feeding himself, I decided his limited mobility didn't include not being able to use his finger to push a virtual bowling ball down a lane. After taking his finger and demonstrating how to play... several times.... he got it! STRIKE -- at one of his first attempts! Although he made no expression at his champion bowling skills, the cheering section clapped and hollered, "YOU DID IT! GOOD JOB!" With still no expression on his face, I can only assume his glance at me was either to say, "Thank you" or "Keep it down, "cheering section!" Regardless, we celebrated by mastering Angry Birds as well. Now I'm on a mission to find games he can play with just the touch of his finger. Being a hospice volunteer has made me not only reflect more deeply on what's really important in life, it's given me a whole new respect and admiration for these patients' true caretakers; their spouse, sibling, relative, or friend. It's almost embarrassing to be thanked over and over for taking a few hours out of my day that provides these caretakers a much needed breath of fresh air and a little time to regroup.


"One person caring about another represents life's greatest value." 
- Jim Rohn