Thursday, May 29, 2008

And so it continues...

Just when I thought we were making some headway on Grandpa's health, he broke his hip. Friday he was hanging a trellis on the front of his house when he fell. The MDs just thought it was badly bruised and sent him home with a walker. However, the pain only got worse so mom took him to the ER yesterday and they confirmed that his hip is indeed broken. He had surgery to replace the ball on the top of the femur this afternoon. So far, so good. He'll be in the hospital until Sunday and then he'll need physical therapy. After that, he will hopefully resume radiation and reschedule his colon resectioning. The eerie part in all of this is that Grandma was in the hospital this time last year deciding to stop treatment and go home with hospice. Grandpa was apparently admitted to the same floor- different room- and some of the RNs recognized my mom. I'm sure they will take extra good care of him. It's just strange to reflect back on the past year and be confronted with a grandparent's failing health all over again. Granted, Grandma's prognosis was grim from the start. Grandpa was told by his surgeon that he is healthier than most 55 year olds. They seem to have caught his cancer in time. Yada, yada, yada. It's just that this is how a lot of declines begin. I hate the thought of more hospitalizations in Grandpa's future. And I question how I would have the strength to lose another loved one right now. I know that I need to trust that all will work out. I have no reason to believe otherwise right now. This is just one of those times where working for hospice affects my judgement, attitude, and outlook. I've seen too much. Just today I was thinking that I should ammend my Living Will to reflect certain medications and treatments that I never want to have, based on what I've seen patients go through. I know. I'm morbid. Even though I'm questioning if I should stay in hospice, I would never trade my experience thus far. Stay tuned, my friends. Stay tuned.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Cheap Gas...Anywhere?

I was quite depressed to be glad that I found gas at $4.07 (corner of Roosevelt and Kirk) this afternoon. When you compare it to $4.27 (corner of Rts. 59 and 64- talk about highway robbery!), $4.07 doesn't seem that bad. It is just sad that we have come to this point. I remember last summer the experts declared it was going to go up to $5 and being shocked and appalled...and then it didn't happen. I think we all breathed a sigh of relief. Now I'm hearing it'll go up to $7 or 8. Say it ain't so!

Since I do a fair amount of driving through DuPage, Kane, Will, and Kendall Counties, I know where the "good" gas stations are. There are web sites that post where the cheapest gas stations are but, generally, when I need to fill my tank up, I'm nowhere near a computer. I'm betting that's true for most of us. Therefore, if you're ever curious about where to go, feel free to give me a call. I might as well put this knowledge to good use. It's too bad we don't have any local candidates offering cheap gas as a campaign stunt. Seriously. It's too bad.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Emily

I have a 46 year old cancer patient now and today I started working with his 5 year old daughter Emily. She is so precious! At some point I will also start working with his 2 year old son. Emily and I got along famously this afternoon. We played ball, had a serious talk about what was happening with her dad, and then we did art therapy. I asked Emily to draw a picture for her dad. Her interpretation of what she drew: "Daddy is in the tomb but there is no lid on it. And he has a blanket (it was pink and orange). Jesus is healing Daddy, he is pouring down his love on him." There are some theologically deep things going on this picture! I'm pretty sure Emily didn't understand all that she was drawing and saying- the magic of art therapy- but she knows that her dad is dying and that this is going to be hard. As sad as these circumstances are, it's good to be working with kids again, knowing that I can help them through this difficulty. Emily wanted me to stay there forever but eventually agreed that I could leave and come back next week. Or, as she said, "you can come back whenever you want." You have to love open invitations!

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Healthy cafe

Saturday I got down to business and studied for my LCSW. I'd been slacking off lately so I felt like I made some real progress. I reviewed the basics and delved into the DSM-IV. I'll be diagnosing you all very shortly! Annie and Ellen needed to grade papers and suggested we all meet at Clean Coffee and Smoothies in downtown Glen Ellyn. It's been open since January and now the theater is flanked by Starbucks on one side and this healthy alternative on the other. Pretty much everything there is organic. Not only do they have an amazing selection of coffee, tea, and smoothies but the ambience is phenomenal! There's a wonderful mural covering the main walls, lots of cute tables, and even some games in one corner. And since I have more studying to do, I will definitely head back to this place often!

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Thoughts

Maybe, just maybe, Lita was right. 12 of my patients have died this month already, which is unusually high. I average about 9-11 deaths per month (and yes, I do track those things because I am a social work nerd.) I can only imagine what will happen in the remaining weeks of May. However, I would like to formally thank my brother Matt for giving me a new nickname in an email- Harbinger of Help. That's why I love my brudder!

It's strange to see Jon Garland in non-White Sox gear. I don't like it. I feel so conflicted about tonight's game. Obviously I want our guys to win but I still have such affection in my heart for Garland. Don't even get me started about the weekend series with the Giants- I can't wait to see my beloved Aaron Rowand! If only I had the power to bring my favorite guys back to the team.

It's been almost a year since I stepped away from all church ministry. I confess I've enjoyed the break. But I know it's time to dive back in. I've been praying about a couple of options so we shall see what happens...

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Pasta and a Prayer

Last night I hosted the first ever Pasta and a Prayer Night. I'd been wanting to do a springtime alternative to Chili and Doughnut Night for a while. I didn't want to make chili in the springtime- although it might have worked with our current weather. As much as I love hearing about how God is working in everyone's lives, I thought this springtime party should reflect a different aspect of the Christian walk. Due to the charismatic church of my childhood, I've had some issues with corporate prayer. As a result, I do not always feel comfortable praying out loud in a group. Over the years God has stretched me in this area and I felt like He was calling me out again. However, I didn't want to have a typical concert of prayer (usually cheesy) and have us all follow the ACTS formula. It doesn't really work for me. Instead, I asked my dear friend George to lead the prayer part of the night and I would handle the food.

Well, I made some great spaghetti sauce, almost 20 friends showed up, and the prayer time was very convicting and encouraging at the same time. George did a fantastic job! There was a discussion about what a balanced prayer life should like, time spent individually in confession, small group time praying through various attributes of God, and then big group time worshipping and praising God. I was personally convicted by how me-focused my prayer life has become. George shared that he had once been challenged to go for a day without asking for anything for himself or for anyone else. He said he couldn't make it for more than a minute. I think I would fail that challenge too. I hope that last night will get me back on the right track again. Everyone seemed to have a good time and I'm pretty sure this is another party that will become an annual tradition. I love being a hostess and creating opportunities and reasons for people to come together. Few things make me feel more alive. Now I just have to figure out what the next party will be...

Friday, May 09, 2008

Morning shock

Every morning the hospice team gets a text message from the supervisors informing us of any staff that is off for the day and any overnight deaths. Yesterday I had one patient that was actively dying so I was not surprised to read her name. However, the next name gave me pause. "Edna" has been one of my favorite patients the last few months. She is just a sweetheart and we get along famously. My last visit with her was yesterday morning and she was perfectly fine. She had congestive heart failure, meaning her heart could go at any moment. Apparently that moment was last night. Beth, her hospice nurse, called me soon after we got the text message. She was in shock too. As much as we know our patients are going to die- they are in hospice afterall- it is sometimes hard to believe. Edna had none of the classic signs and symptoms, proof that truly only God knows when our time will be. I'm just glad that I was able to see her one last time. I had debated about if I should go yesterday or wait until today but I followed an unknown instinct to stop by yesterday. We talked about her favorite show Dancing with the Stars, sports, music, and Mother's Day. Next weekend her granddaughter is getting married and the family was going to recreate the wedding for Edna since she would not be able to attend (it's going to be on a cruise ship.) Unreal. I'm hoping to go to the wake on Monday. I don't always go to the services but I'm going to do my best to pay my respects to Edna and her family.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

More talk, less action- or is it the other way around?

There was a short blurb in today's Tribune regarding the continuing dialog about faith and politics. 70 evangelical leaders released their manifesto in Washington DC today. Their goal is to address the confusion about who evangelicals are and clarify a view on evangelicals in public life. Jim Wallis, whom I love, included some excerpts in his weekly email so I was able to read the manifesto. They also give everyone the option to sign it as well.

These words resonate with me:

We believe that being disciples of Jesus means serving him as Lord in every sphere of our lives, secular as well as spiritual, public as well as private, in deeds as well as words, and in every moment of our days on earth, always reaching out as he did to those who are lost as well as to the poor, the sick, the hungry, the oppressed, the socially despised, and being faithful stewards of creation and our fellow creatures.
It's a tall order for all of us. I appreciate the intent behind the manfiesto but I wonder if another document will bring about change. I love what Wallis and his Sojourners movement has done so far. But when do we stop talking about the problems and start creating solutions? If they will know we are Christians by our love, how will they see any love unless we start acting? Believe me, I don't know what the first step should be. However, the economy is only getting worse. How can we justify talking about misconceptions about evangelicals when our country is troubled by increased gas prices, the lack of affordable housing and healthcare, homelessness, etc.? We need to live out our faith. Enough of the dialog. Let's show the world what living for Christ really looks like.

Sunday, May 04, 2008

Unwanted Nickname

I am easily nicknamable but a new one gave me pause the other day. At one of my nursing homes, we've had a lot of patients come and go. The activities aide said she was going to start calling me "Harbinger of Death." Not quite how I want to be known these days. I had to remind her of a patient on another floor that we've had for over a year and a half. She then agreed to never call me that again. Phew!