Monday, July 03, 2006

Comfort Care

One of my main responsibilities is to make Bea comfortable. I fluff pillows and rearrange her in the bed several times a day. When Hospice & Palliative Care of Cape Cod first sent its representative, Barbara explained that we are now undertaking comfort care for Bea. One thing she emphasized was to always call the hospice 800 number in case of emergency. When my dad passed, Sven called 911, which turned out to be a mistake because the medics tried to revive my dead father, whose body, at 97, needed to be left in peace. That is their job, reviving people. During this ordeal, I hold Bea in the next room. Then the fire chief, a friend, held me.

Soon after Barbara’s visit, a Comfort Pack arrives Federal Express. It contains just about everything needed to relieve discomfort.

Today Bea sleeps, third day in a row, all day. She is only awake while Lisa gives her a bed bath. Bea accepts three spoonfuls of cream of wheat.

A hospice nurse from another state happens to be staying at the bed & breakfast. We get to talking and she describes the experience of comforting patients right before death.

Lisa overhears and comments that some people refer to hospice health aides and nurses as “midwives to the next life.” The analogy makes sense. To Lisa, the quote means that she "helps people who might feel fear about death realize that we, in the hospice field, look at our chosen profession as importantly as a midwife looks at the new life she/he is helping bring into this world...”

In going through some of Bea’s old papers, I come upon this poem, composed November 9, 1992:

“Comfort me with apples”,
with zinnias, anemone,
and heliotrope.
These will be my diadem.
Exonerate my unknown guilt
and take me swimming
in the shimmering golden pond
of my longing.
Read to me a litany
of someone’s faith.
And in the spring
let us rejoice –
so little time –
in the earth’s rebirth.

As soon as my zinnias grow tall enough, I will make Bea a big bouquet and place it by her bedside.

2 Comments:

Blogger Garison said...

Hello,
Thank you very much for your blog I found while searching for things I'd like to send my parents. I live in Falmouth but my folks live in Pittsburgh. My mother is in the last stages of Parkinson's and my father is totally devoted to her. She is completely bedridden and I was looking online for gifts she might enjoy her few waking hours a day, but also helpful things my father might need. They have a nurse come in daily and I have siblings very close by...

The lotion and the soft fleece are thoughtful suggestions and I'm hoping you may recommend some sources. God bless you on your own journey and thank you again for being there.

8:27 AM  
Blogger Alexandra Grabbe said...

Hi, Garrrison. Glad you found this blog useful and comforting, too, I hope. Not sure whether you will find this response but I wanted to thank you for writing in. The lotion my mom had was Alba Very Emollient Body Lotion. As for the fleece, I am afraid I do not have a particular source I can recommend at this point. I hope your mom will have a peaceful passing.

8:44 AM  

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