Friday, July 29, 2011

Awesome weather

I had a great walk with my hubby today.  He had a rare day off and we made the most of it.  We walked around the lake, now lush and green with leaves and branches hanging across our path.  It was pretty sticky, but still a lovely day.  We checked on the progress of 2 properties that had their buckthorn removed.  Now the other non-invasive species have a fighting chance for survival.  It totally changed the landscape.  It is a lot of work to get rid of the buckthorn in  an area, but the pay back is enormous.   Later in the day, we were driving down a dirt road and we spied a Great Egret perched in a tree right next to the road.  I haven't seen that too many times in my life.  In the blink of an eye, we spotted a male belted Kingfisher on a fence overlooking a stream.
It's amazing what one can see when we slow down to look around us!

Physical Pain vs. Spiritual Pain

I just visited with one of my amazing patients yesterday.  I was struck by her honesty and candor.  When I was there I asked if she was in any pain.  She was not.  In hospice, the goal is for the patients to be as pain free as possible.  
I had just spent 90 minutes at an in-service dealing with physical vs. spiritual pain.  The premise was that if a patient has unresolved spiritual pain, it can manifest in physical symptoms, or it can be misunderstood by the patient and/or caregivers as physical pain.  Often the result is medication.  
What my dear friend and I got to is that she is frightened.  She knows that she is in hospice, and that her time is limited.  What she was wondering about was if her new declined state would be the new status quo or if she was in a downward spiral.  I spent some very treasured time just listening to her concerns and letting her cry while we held hands.  Then we talked about what it might mean if this was the "new her" or if things were going to decline. 
It was an important moment for me.  I realized that upon initially asking her if she was in pain, both of us were thinking of the physical pain that she is asked about countless times each day.  What she needed to come to grips with and let out was the spiritual pain of the uncertainty that she was feeling.  That took some time and talking to uncover.  So often, the care-givers are rushed due to their mountainous work load, and they don't have the time to just sit and talk.  
My wish for everyone, patient and care-giver, is that there is someone in their lives who can just come and sit.  Sometimes, the patient is in need of a good listener and hand-holder, and sometimes that is the need of the care-giver. 
A dear, dear friend of mine just lost her father to cancer.  She ran herself ragged between her family in one town, and her parent's home in a town 4 hours away.  She didn't know how long any of them had.  She shared with me, the hours that she laid in bed with her father.  They just talked, or looked at photos, or even watched bad daytime tv together.  She told me that the memories from that time are among her most precious. I don't know if she remembers how many loads of laundry she did, or how many bedpans she emptied, but she has crystal clarity of the times when the two of them were just quietly together.  It gave them time to talk about her father's hopes, fears, and the mark that he left on this earth and in the heart of everyone who knew him.  What an amazing gift!
Pay attention to the spiritual care of the family.  Find the help that makes it possible to "just be" sometimes, and see what comes up for exploration or release. It is the ultimate gift!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Mystery Solved

Well, I have been scratching my head at the lack of blooming plants in my back gardens.  Upon closer inspection over the weekend, I saw that the top of my phlox had been eaten.  I wondered if the pesky rabbits were to blame.  This morning I was sitting on my screen porch writing in my journal when the cats went to high alert.  I looked up to see what had gotten their attention.  A doe and two fawn were ambling across my back yard on their way to the woods.  It was amazing to see, and it helped me to solve the mystery of the chewed up plants! 

Last night while chatting with neighbors, one reported that there had been a coyote sighting less than a mile away.  Sometimes I forget that we really are out in the country.  It reminded me that years ago a friend was telling me about a coyote pack that was roaming a suburb.  Small children had to be supervised when outside, and pets that were leashed or in electric fencing were in danger.  The dogs were confined to the invisible fence or leash, but the coyotes were not, and they used that to their advantage while hunting.  It feels a bit like Wild Kingdom around here lately.

I did have a great bird sighting over the 4th.  I was on the Lake Woebegon trail up near St. John's University when I spotted a red bird dart by.  I realized that it wasn't a cardinal because the wings were black.  I looked it up and sure enough, it was a Scarlet Tanager.  I have only seen two of those in my life time.  We were roller blading on the trail and trying to find another wonder- a crop of wild lady slippper that was blooming.  We had to make two trips to find it, and it was almost spent.  The heat of the weekend had faded what must have been amazing blooms!