Monday, June 22, 2015

"I am dying"... the documentary

“I am dying”… the documentary It was Saturday morning around 11:30 when I was channel surfing. My attention was directed to the National Geographic Channel. The program shown was riveting. “I am Dying” was the title. It was a close-up glimpse of patient Renee Heidtman — a spirited, active yoga instructor in her 20s — on her hospice journey after she was diagnosed with breast cancer. The film follows Renee and her family through her attempts to get treated, her final months of in-home care, and, finally, her death on April 11, 2013. The program was just 30 minutes long but was a powerful 30 minutes! If anyone doubts hospice nurses are angels, there could be no doubt left as two nurses were mentioned from the Sutter Care at Home Hospice. Their manner was delicate and compassionate. One of these Angels was providing instruction to Renee’s sister, Rita, and her Mother on how to instill the methadone between her cheek and tongue when Renee could no longer speak. The “Existential Slap” (see my 11/13/14 post) about crumbled Rita as she repeated what the nurse said and couldn’t grasp that her sister would no longer be able to speak. Life for Renee was coming to a too-early close. While spiritual care was not a part of the program, it was clear that it was needed. Renee, Rita, and their Mom would have benefitted from a clinically trained Chaplain who would provide comfort, counsel, and companioning along the way of this journey. There is much the hospice IDT does not see. In my 9/3/14 post, I wrote about what the Chaplain does not see because of the brief time he/she is engaged with the patient and family. However, in this documentary, a hospice team member did a great job suggesting a video diary. Two portions of that diary were portrayed. I will say to Rita, “How sad that Renee will not speak, but her legacy speaks on in her video diary.” Death may silence the day to day interaction, but a video diary can be a cherished place to go when the pain is too great. If you haven’t viewed this documentary, I urge you to check online or the National Geographic site. Hopefully, you will be able to view it and grow from it.

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