Final Gifts: Understanding the Special Awareness, Needs, and Communications of the Dying

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9781451667257: Final Gifts: Understanding the Special Awareness, Needs, and Communications of the Dying

In this moving and compassionate classic--now updated with new material from the authors--hospice nurses Maggie Callanan and Patricia Kelley share their intimate experiences with patients at the end of life, drawn from more than twenty years' experience tending the terminally ill. Through their stories we come to appreciate the near-miraculous ways in which the dying communicate their needs, reveal their feelings, and even choreograph their own final moments; we also discover the gifts--of wisdom, faith, and love--that the dying leave for the living to share. Filled with practical advice on responding to the requests of the dying and helping them prepare emotionally and spiritually for death, "Final Gifts" shows how we can help the dying person live fully to the very end.

Les informations fournies dans la section « Synopsis » peuvent faire référence à une autre édition de ce titre.

Extrait :

"It's Time to Get in Line."

LAURA

Joe paced anxiously–back and forth–at the foot of Laura's bed. There was an odd stillness in the room. He edged around the nurse's aid and the corner of the dresser so he could sit by his wife's side on the bed. Deeply concerned, he picked up her hand and began rubbing it.

"Laura, are you all right?" he asked. "Talk to me!"

She smiled dreamily and nodded, but said nothing. This upset Joe.

"Laura, it's me," he said. "Say something! I'm worried about you!"

"Joe, I'm okay," she whispered.

Joe looked to the nurse's aide, who responded with a look of uncertainty.

"Sweetheart, do you hurt?" he asked. "Do you need anything? Is something wrong? Darling, please tell me what it is?"

Laura smiled again, closed her eyes, and shook her head. Joe signaled for the aide to join him in the hall.

"What's wrong?" he asked. "She was fine this morning. A little weak, maybe, but fine. We had a cup of tea together."

The aide patted Joe's shoulder. "She just got this way. I don't know what's wrong. She's taken her medicines on schedule and she ate a little breakfast. Does she seem a bit confused to you?"

"It's had to tell," Joe said. "She's not talking much. She seems real strange. We'd better call the nurse. I know something's wrong! Joe nervously reached for the phone.

SOMEONE YOU CARE ABOUT may be very ill, perhaps dying. There's so much to do–tests, hospitalizations, visits to doctors' offices. Sometimes there are two or three physicians to deal with–a surgeon, oncologist, radiologist, other specialists.

The medicine chest is jammed with partially used medicines–some bottles nearly full, others almost empty–as new and different ones are tried. Medical equipment seems to occupy every corner of the house. All the furniture has been rearranged, whether to allow a wheelchair to pass or to permit a fast trip to the bathroom.

Coping with terminal illness is more than hard work–it's all-consuming and creeps into every corner of your life. There are so many people to talk to, so many questions to ask, so much to do. The hopes and triumphs of new or different treatments can change quickly into fears and failures. It's an exhausting, emotional roller-coaster ride. It's like having an unwanted and uninvited stranger in your midst, who seems to take up more and more space.

A terminal illness doesn't belong only to the one who is sick–it affects family members, friends, neighbors, coworkers. Not unlike a still pond disturbed by a falling stone, an impending death sends ripples through all the relationships in the life of the dying. Each person involved has his or her own set of issues, fears, and questions.

Beyond coming to terms with the loss of someone we care about, we find ourselves with a jumble of conflicting emotions shaken loose by confronting human limitations and mortality: How can this be happening? I feel powerless–what can I do to help? I don't want to face this–what's it like to die? Is there anything after death? Why are the people around me behaving this way? I feel lost and helpless. What do I do? What do I say?

Is it possible to find anything positive in this devastating event? Can this remaining time be used to share treasured moments of living, while coping with the many losses death brings? Rather than dying on a continuum, can this person be helped to live until he or she dies? Can this be a time of personal growth for all involved?

Yes.

LAURA HAD SPENT HER LIFE as a teacher, but when she retired and her first husband died, she decided to become a student again. This time her university was the world and she quenched her thirst for knowledge and new experiences by traveling–seeking new faces and new places.

In India she met Joe–a fellow traveler in her tour group. An enthusiastic widower of seventy-nine, he had an inviting twinkle in his eye and shared Laura's touring style–each lived out of a backpack, like the far younger vagabonds they encountered on the road. They were immediately drawn to each other, fell in love, returned home, and–much to the surprise of the grown children they both had–announced their engagement.

The wedding was small and charming, attended by their children and grandchildren. Laura wore a sari she'd bought in India and was given away by one of her grandsons. She'd chosen Robbie to do the honors because she wanted to feel a sense of connection with his mother–her daughter Susan, who'd died of breast cancer the year before at the age of forty-five.

Joe's best man was his son. After the ceremony, everyone feasted on Indian food served on Laura's treasured antique Russian china.

Laura sold her house and gave away much of her furniture; Joe moved out of the apartment he'd occupied since his first wife's death. They rented a one-bedroom apartment in a retirement complex, which was crammed with the belongings that once had filled their two large houses. It was a squeeze for them to pass each other in the narrow hallway, cluttered with cabinets, mirrors, storage shelves, and clocks from Joe's collection. But they were happy, and Laura was able to indulge her passion for gardening by working on the building's grounds.

Once settled, Joe and Laura returned to traveling–now as a twosome. The once-tedious aspects of the tourist life–baggage lines, ticket lines, customs lines, lines for planes and buses and trains–now were occasions to enjoy one another's company.

Joe was quite forgetful, so he relied heavily on Laura as an organizer and manager–roles she loved.

They had to cut short a trip to Mexico celebrating Laura's eighty-third birthday, when she came down with dysentery. Her condition persisted until she had to be hospitalized for dehydration. But X-rays showed a tumor in her colon, which when removed was found to be malignant. The cancer had already spread to Laura's liver and, considering her age, aggressive treatment wasn't recommended, the doctors said she had about six months to live.

Joe took this news badly, seeming to become more muddled than usual. Laura decided to spend her remaining time at home with Joe, who was eager to help in any way he could. They decided to call the hospice for help and support.

The next four months passed uneventfully. Laura's discomfort was minimal, and easily controlled with medications. Their families visited often, bringing meals or simply spending time with her. She and Joe would sit for hours paging through albums of photos from their trips and their younger days. These weren't always happy interludes; pictures of Susan as a healthy young woman always made Laura cry.

"Mothers aren't supposed to outlive their children," she'd say. "I miss her so much. It should have been me, not her."

However, Laura was stoic about her own situation, and did her best to maintain her social contacts and gracious manners. But her terminal diagnosis and increasing dependency were beginning to overwhelm Joe. His distress showed in his behavior. When Laura asked for a pain pill, he would dash off with great purpose, but distract himself along the way with a series of meaningless activities, and forget the medicine.

Laura's children dealt with this by hiring a home health aide, who wound up spending nearly as much time and energy helping Joe as she did Laura.

They managed quite well until the morning Laura's behavior changed. She refused the bath that she usually enjoyed, and seemed distracted and distant. Joe was alarmed when he called our hospice.

I arrived to find him agitated and impatiently waiting for me at the apartment door.

"She's different today," he said. "She's looking at us–but through us–like we're not there."

Laura seemed restless and preoccupied, picking at the bedcovers and staring into space with a faraway look in her eyes. A quick physical check revealed no apparent reason for the change in her behavior.

"What's happening to you, Laura?" I asked. "Where have you been?"

"It's time to get in line," she said.

"Tell me more about the line," I said. "Is there anybody there you know?"

"Susan is in the line," Laura said, breaking into a radiant smile, but continuing to stare into space.

"How nice for you," I said. "Would you like to get in line? Can you tell me more?"

Laura became thoughtful, and sad. After a few moments she said, "But Joe can't go with me."

I sensed that she was feeling torn between going to be with the daughter she missed so terribly and staying with the husband who needed her so much.

"That must be a hard choice for you, Laura," I said. "Can we help Joe get ready for the time when you have to get in line?"

Laura visibly relaxed, and simply said, "Yes."

Joe was in the living room, surrounded by antique furniture and exotic souvenirs from their travels. Around him half a dozen clocks were ticking, each one set at a different time. I joined him on the sofa and told him about my conversation with Laura. He began to cry.

"I know this is hard for you, Joe," I said, handing him tissues. "What do you think Laura is telling us?"

"It sounds like she's dreaming about seeing Susan," Joe said. "Like maybe they'll be reunited."

"What else do you think she might be saying?"

"It sounds like she wishes I could go with her," he said. "But I can't–maybe she's worried about that."

"Is there any specific reason Laura might be worried about leaving you behind?"

"I depend on her a lot," he said. "I...

Biographie de l'auteur :

Maggie Callanan has specialized in the care of the dying since 1981. She lectures widely to lay and professional audiences on death and dying, bereavement, and hospice care. Maggie is also the author of Final Journeys. She lives on the New England coast.
Patricia Kelley has worked in hospice care since 1978. She formerly held positions as Clinical Director of Montgomery Hospice in Maryland and as Director of Health Systems Leadership at the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization. She now works as a national and international consultant providing education and training on issues relating to hospice and palliative care. Patricia is also the author of Companion to Grief: Finding Consolation When Someone You Love Has Died.

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Description du livre SIMON SCHUSTER, United States, 2012. Paperback. État : New. Reprint. 211 x 137 mm. Language: English . Brand New Book. In this moving and compassionate classic--now updated with new material from the authors--hospice nurses Maggie Callanan and Patricia Kelley share their intimate experiences with patients at the end of life, drawn from more than twenty years experience tending the terminally ill. Through their stories we come to appreciate the near-miraculous ways in which the dying communicate their needs, reveal their feelings, and even choreograph their own final moments; we also discover the gifts--of wisdom, faith, and love--that the dying leave for the living to share. Filled with practical advice on responding to the requests of the dying and helping them prepare emotionally and spiritually for death, Final Gifts shows how we can help the dying person live fully to the very end. N° de réf. du libraire ABZ9781451667257

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Description du livre SIMON SCHUSTER, United States, 2012. Paperback. État : New. Reprint. 211 x 137 mm. Language: English . Brand New Book. In this moving and compassionate classic--now updated with new material from the authors--hospice nurses Maggie Callanan and Patricia Kelley share their intimate experiences with patients at the end of life, drawn from more than twenty years experience tending the terminally ill. Through their stories we come to appreciate the near-miraculous ways in which the dying communicate their needs, reveal their feelings, and even choreograph their own final moments; we also discover the gifts--of wisdom, faith, and love--that the dying leave for the living to share. Filled with practical advice on responding to the requests of the dying and helping them prepare emotionally and spiritually for death, Final Gifts shows how we can help the dying person live fully to the very end. N° de réf. du libraire ABZ9781451667257

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