Thursday, May 11, 2006

A typical day?

Recently someone asked me what a typical work day looked like. I had to laugh in response. In any given day, I have no clue what will happen. Basically I have to be available, flexible, and plan that my plans will be broken. One of my families asked me if it was like being on-call all the time. Pretty much, yes. Except I'm trying to do all my regular visits at the same time. At least when I'm on call on the weekends the only things I'm trying to accomplish are get caught up on my tv shows and, these days, pack up my apartment. Just to give you a hint of what typical might look like, here's what happened this week:
Monday: I went into the office to drop off paperwork, make condolence calls, complete a referral for a volunteer, and set up a few visits. After that, I stopped by to see a patient who had been actively dying on Friday (I was with the family for 5 hours) but somehow turned the corner and is now alert and talking. Then I saw 3 patients at 2 different nursing homes then headed out to meet with a pt. who had just moved into his daughter's home. Once there "Amos" told me that his wife had him served with divorce papers on Friday, her form of punishment since he moved into his daughter's home instead of the nursing home like she wanted. And that's after more than 50 years of marriage! It was a pretty good visit, I'm going to try to facillitate a meeting between Amos, his daughter, and wife, if she'll agree to it. I'm not holding my breath. He's been living with his daughter for a month and his wife has refused to speak with him the whole time he's been there. I left her home a little bit before 5, 40 minutes later I got home and typed up my note.
Tuesday: While checking my voicemail at 8 am, I got an urgent text message from my boss requesting that I see an imminent pt. (just admitted last night) at a local Hospital ASAP. I'd already set up a visit with a new pt. for 9 am so I called Joyce to explain the situation, figuring I could be at the hospital by 10 or 10:30. She was fine with that since one of our RNs was heading over there first thing. I headed out to meet the new pt. and her husband, it went well. I made it to the hospital at 10 am (it worked!), found my patient's room, he died just as I walked in. Please, no angel of death jokes:) I comforted the family, called the coroner and funeral home, and helped out the hospital staff as able. After lunch, I saw 5 nursing home patients and called it a day.
Wednesday: Saw a nursing home patient and spoke to her daughter by phone, the daughter's son is being treated for cancer right now so she's barely hanging on. The patient is tired but stable, very sweet lady. Next, I saw one of my favorite patients, she is so strong and tough, she's been through so much yet has an awesome attitude. Her husband gave me a "hard" time since I didn't get to see them last week but I dished it right back. I love joking around with my families! Wednesdays we have ICC meetings in the afternoon so my next stop was our office. ICC stands for interdisciplinary case consulting, each week we discuss patients falling under half the alphabet (A-K or L-Z). Every 2 weeks I lead the meetings but this was not one of those weeks so I was able to catch up on paperwork a bit.
Thursday: I am now the social worker at an LTCF with whom we just renewed our contract. I saw a new patient there, such a sweet, spunky lady! Next I saw another favorite patient. She's starting to decline, becoming weaker and more confused, so it's sad. She always tells me she loves my visits but worries that she's taking me away from someone else who needs my help more. In the afternoon I saw a pt. in assisted living and then 3 pts. at a nursing home.
Friday: Started my day visiting a 98 year old woman at a nursing home. She always says, "Oh my land of Goshen" when she's excited, surprised, etc. I love her! She also gave me a Milky Way bar. Yum. Next I headed out to see a cute old Alzheimers man and his wife and daughter. They're coping pretty well but when he starts to decline the family will be a mess so I try to get out there every week. The next stop was an assisted living facility where I saw an old pt. and a new pt.
All in all a pretty good week. God came through to give me the strength to survive and, hopefully, thrive. Hope that gives you a somewhat better understanding of what my day can be like. Thinking back, this was pretty tame. Just wait until I get another crisis!

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