Sunday, May 18, 2003

Work has been really awesome. I've been doing lots of reading about perspectives of death and dying and hospice. Not to sound morbid, but it's absolutely fascinating. There is a lot of spirituality involved, and in much of the literature, it is simply stated as fact that patients who are suffering spiritually will hold on, despite their physical shutting down, until their spiritual crisis is resolved.

I really like the philosophy of the company I'm working for. I guess you have to be centered and focused, philosophical and spiritual when you are surrounded by dying, pain and suffering. Somehow you have to make sure that you're doing the best you can. To do this job half assed can be devastating for patients and their families, not to mention yourself. The greatest part of the job is the autonomy I get to practice- I get to practice new and creative ways in dealing with and communicating to the patients and their families. Also, to find creative ways to get the patients and family the care and supplies they need. The main complaint, as in many home care situations is the massive amounts of paperwork. But I do like to write, and I've been encouraged that if I find the office isn't the place to let the paperwork juju flow, then I can take it home. I'm salaried for 8 hours a day, and not all of that will be in patients homes and in the office.

I just finished reading Margaret Edson's play, Wit, which was made into a movie starring Emma Thompson. I tend to like reading plays as opposed to seeing them live, because each actor and director has their own perception of the characters. For me, my favorite character was Jason, the oncology fellow. I read him as a vulnerable, somewhat befuddled person, not a typical pompous asshole doctor. He's been taught to do one task, research cancer, and has made it his life's work. The research fascinates him, and you can tell he loves what he does in one monologue, but it's obvious his motivation is off-kilter. He has no bedside manner, nor cares to develop one, simply because it's not in the cards as a researcher. In the end, faced with a decision to let fate take over his patient, he finds himself doing something horrible to a person in order to salvage his "research." Upon realizing his mistake, the devastation he exudes is palpable and gut-wrenching. (Not wanting to give away the ending- I encourage you to read it!) I also picked up two books that were highly recommended: On Death and Dying by Kubler-Ross (the four stages of grief guru) and Final Gifts.

On Tuesday, I traveled to Va Beach to train with a bigger branch of the company. It was so amazing, and I am so excited to get up each day and go to work. I knew that I was in the right place when I could sit with the patients, touch them, be with their families. Plus, it was the beach, and it's just so hard to be uptight and stressed at the beach. So the combination allowed for a great learning experience.

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