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Transition

Discussion in 'Snippets of Life (Non-Fiction)' started by Viswamitra, Dec 2, 2018.

  1. Viswamitra

    Viswamitra IL Hall of Fame

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    I called up the The Hospice of Florida Suncoast to inquire about their latest training program to volunteer as Patient & Family Care volunteer 3 months back and they told me 4 hours of general training to learn about the organization, 12 hours of training for Patient and Family Care and 4 hours of training for “Transition”. My mind told me why would someone needs to spend 20 hours to learn how to volunteer? That training is invaluable. They taught us how to wear and remove the glove and gown and how to wash our hands before and after getting into contact with a patient. I didn’t even know that World Health Organization has set standards for clean environment for patient care and this organization is in compliant with their standards. They did a background screening, vaccinated me for Tuberculosis and eventually when they issued a badge for me, I felt as though I finished my doctorate.

    I didn’t do anything with that training for good 3 months until I heard the spiritual speaker last week. He indicated that if I need to improve my self-respect, I need to constantly work on opportunities to help those in need. The first thing that came to my mind was about my Patient Care training. The next day, I met with the Volunteer Coordinator and sought a meeting with her. She accepted my request and walked me through the care center. At the end of the meeting, she asked me to execute a few documents and asked when I could start volunteering. When I said immediately, she requested me to shadow two interesting volunteers last Friday and next Friday from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. and then work every Saturday from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m.

    Last Friday, I reported promptly at 5 p.m. and I was given a warm welcome by these two volunteers Mr. B and Mrs. M. One was 78 years old and the other was 77 years old and both have been volunteering every week for the past 10 years since the start of the care center in that location. When inquired further, I learned Mr. B prefers to volunteer as much as possible and like to give company for terminally ill patients to make a big difference in their transition. Mrs. M walked me through the daily routine for those 3 hours volunteering, what kind of emergencies could come in, showed me the button to press if there is threat to the care center or people inside the care center, how the order for breakfast, lunch and dinner are taken the previous day for the kitchen to prepare the next day, where to pin the orders in the kitchen, How to refill coffee cups, cookies, where the blankets are located if a family member prefers to stay overnight with their loved ones, how wheel chairs and other supplies are covered in plastic wrappers to indicate that they are sanitized and ready to use, where to take the patients if they like to feel fresh air, what I need to do if a patient wants to smoke, the location of the nurse station, if requested what I need to do to sit with a transitioning patient, if there are not loved ones near them, etc.

    When I walked around the care center, I noticed some rooms are with very little light and soothing music indicating that those patients are transitioning. I was told most don’t like to eat and will be constantly in illusions seeing live and dead people alternatively and it is hard for them to differentiate which one is real and which one is illusion. They rarely talk and even if they do, it is difficult to understand what they are communicating unless we listen carefully. The co-volunteers training me emphasized how important it is to show love and compassion and always be smiling. Most importantly, they told me to keep my spirit very high understanding that transitioning is part of life.

    After the first 3 hours of shadowing, I realized these 3 hours are going to be most well spent time every week. Equipped well with the training about how terminally ill patients’ transition, what type of changes happen in their skin color, conversations, in their breathing, in their eating habits, in their back and forth between readiness to transition Vs wanting help from a live person to help them go to an unknown place. Even though it is considered a selfless service, I feel deep inside my mind, I have a few selfish motivations. One is to make me feel good by serving another soul to compensate for not being their next to my mother during her transition and second to make my own transition as easy as possible knowing death is part of living.
     
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  2. jayasala42

    jayasala42 Finest Post Winner

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    What a great opportunity Viswa! Make full use of it.Though I didn't know much about transitioning, I have been with my mother and mother-in-law during the period.In my mother-in-law's case I could not even guess that her end was nearing, as she was fully conscious.But the doctor told us that it was terminal breathing difficulty and her end was very near.I could not guess since she had bouts of asthma very often.Two days earlier she told me that she saw a small girl aged seven wearing pattu pavadai and all the jewels looking like Goddess Meenakshi.
    For my mother , on the last day she was able to move her hands and limbs which were immobile for nine long years.She was explaining in detail giving running commentary of the scenes that came to her eyes.It was like a film show consisting of her dead mother, my father's brother and others who were so intimate to her.She was narrating about the conversation she had with our Periappa .She was watching a wall on which she saw many images.If someone tried to hide the wall she would ask them to move as though they were hiding the show.
    To facilitate a smooth transition is a good service and you are fortunate to have an opportunity.
    Wish you all the best.
    Jayasala 42
     
  3. jskls

    jskls Finest Post Winner

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    A big thank you :worship2: for sharing such useful information. Such a wonderful service. Hats off to you. I had been looking for such volunteering opportunities shortly down the road and now I understand what to expect and where to look for. Not sure if I will be able to but it’s there in the back of my mind. Thanks for sharing Sir.
     
  4. Rihana

    Rihana IL Hall of Fame

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    An informative and touching write-up, Viswa. Thank you for sharing about your experience.

    Death and its impact on the one to die and the next of kin has been on my mind quite a bit in the last few months. Your snippet has demystified some aspects of dying in the U.S. After I read the snippet, I did a quick search on transitioning and hospice care. Some questions came to mind. Asking here. Would be nice to hear from you rather than look them up.
    That's a good list of your tasks. Is this information also provided online or in print to you if you need to review in the future when you volunteer?

    Another question - if you and other volunteers re not around to do these tasks, who does them?

    Does the hospice rely heavily on volunteers? Or, are they only providing an opportunity for those who want to volunteer?

    Do volunteers work with patients who are in the pre-active stage, active stage or both? Can volunteer have a preference to not work with those in the active stage? Like, in initial days of volunteering?

    Did they give you any advice on how to deal with your own feelings as you volunteer? Any caution on not to develop too much attachment for a particular patient?

    Nice to read about it and your involvement, Viswa. You have written about it in a matter-of-fact yet from-the-heart manner. Somehow, reading it does not feel overwhelming.

    I've asked many questions. Your inputs on any would help, but please don't feel like you have to answer each one.
     
    Last edited: Dec 2, 2018
  5. Viswamitra

    Viswamitra IL Hall of Fame

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    Dear Smt. Jayasala:

    Thank you for your first response. Yes, I am planning to make full use of this opportunity. You are very blessed to spend time with both your mother and mother-in-law when they were transitioning. I missed spending time with my mother when she was transitioning but kept my word to be with her before her final rites.

    Your doctor was right about the breathing pattern. In our training program as well, they mentioned to watch the breathing pattern to figure out the transitioning stage. There is so much I learned in the training about illusions the person who transitions encounter. What a great soul to see Goddess Meenakshi and I am sure she would have spent considerable time worshiping her during her life in order to get that though in her transition period. Your mother spending time with all her favorite family members are part of the transition as well.

    During the training itself, I was determined to get this real experience to be with the transitioning patients. Hence, I went through a special training program for 4 hours to learn more about transitioning. Thank you for your wishes and I will share more whatever I learn during my volunteering.

    Viswa
     
  6. Viswamitra

    Viswamitra IL Hall of Fame

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    Dear Lakshmi,

    You are very welcome and I am glad you found this information useful. I am so happy to know that you are looking for such volunteering opportunities. I was volunteering 8 years back and my work schedule took me away from volunteering. Now I am back into action. In the meantime, the Hospice organization grew so rapidly with excellent quality treatment covering the physical, emotional and spiritual needs of those who are transitioning. The organization now has 2,000 volunteers and 1,500 employees in our county and has grown into a world class organization training staff from all over the world.

    Viswa
     
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  7. Viswamitra

    Viswamitra IL Hall of Fame

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    Hi @Rihana,

    You are right on target about your line of questioning. Every question you have asked here were covered in our training program.

    We were given a manual along with every training program which operates like an operating manual of how to fine tune our service based on the needs of each patient. They have poured in all of their experiences into these manuals.

    Doctors and Nurses take care of medical needs, social workers take care of emotional needs, Revs take care of spiritual and religious needs and volunteers are trained to be present to supplement any needs of the patient but with the guidance of the principals mentioned above. We were trained how to hold the palm and squeeze them gently when a patient is terrified by the transitioning experience, listen patiently when they communicate, help them to have the right environment like proper lighting, right music, right feeding of fluids, etc. We were trained how to wash hands before contacting the patient and after. We were also trained how to wear and remove gloves, gowns, masks, etc. if the patient had an infectious disease.

    The Hospice rely heavily on volunteers and in general, the volunteers are overflowing than the actual need. Volunteers are always available mostly during the day time from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. Almost 3 out of 5 retired people prefer to volunteer in some form or another and if they are veterans, they prefer to help other veterans who are hurting due to PTST or other deployment-related mental issues besides terminal illness. There are many teen volunteers as well to meet the Bright Future Scholarship but eventually end up volunteering lot more than the required 75 hours. There are many mid-aged people who volunteer if they have only one job for a few hours. The volunteering opportunities are spread over many requirements including, reception desk, medical record data entry, home care, pet therapy volunteers, musical instrument players, drivers to get drugs or even take the patient for a drive, wheeling the patient out, moving the cadaver to the mortuary van, Reiki treatment for pain, running errand like getting groceries, toiletries for home care patients, life-time legacy video recording and many more.

    It is entirely up to the volunteers to choose where they like to volunteer. Patient and Family Care is only one of such engagement. Many volunteer to give emotional support to the family post loss of loved ones as well. If one chooses, they could work only in the office and not be in contact with any patient.

    Yes. They did tell us how to keep our feelings on check during volunteering. If volunteering with a particular patient or overall patient care was overwhelming, the volunteers are told that their own mental, emotional and physical health to be given priority. Everything is patient driven. We were trained not to get emotionally involved with a patient too much. We were also told sometimes, the loved ones may like to spend time with transitioning patients and they may find the volunteers as not needed.

    A registered nurse Barbara Karnes poured out all her experiences with transitioning patients into a booklet called "Gone from my sight - The Dying Experience" - The volunteers use it like a bible as it narrates withdrawal, food intake, disorientation, physical changes, skin color changes, breathing pattern changes, body temperature changes, surge of energy, restlessness, congestion, open or semi-open eyes with no focus, purple hands and feet, etc.

    Viswa
     
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  8. Srama

    Srama Finest Post Winner

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    Dear V sir,

    Kudos to you. Personally as much as I want to be able to help, this is something I have learnt I cannot do. Working with elderly, I am fine but with terminally ill and the transitioning patients is beyond me. I have learnt it the hard way :( and for that reason, I often tend to stick with children, hoping that I am helping them with their future .

    Thank you for sharing this. It sure is an inspiration for many!
     
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  9. Viswamitra

    Viswamitra IL Hall of Fame

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    Dear Sabitha,

    During the training program, this question was asked to every volunteer. Many clearly but categorically told they won't be able to make it. Some attended to refresh themselves and were doing transition for many years. It is interesting to hear the perspective of veterans how they handle fellow sergeants transition when they face line of fire from enemies. Everyone has emotions but the way they handle them varies.
     
  10. GeetaKashyap

    GeetaKashyap IL Hall of Fame

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    @Viswamitra Sir,

    Thanks for sharing your experience and all the best to you in your new chosen activity. Last week my relative was here and we were discussing this process at length. She is working as a volunteer for quite some time. (Apart from the actual work, I was also curious to know about the Spiritual experiences if she has had.:)This was of special interest to me as I have read about them a lot.)In India, we still don't have such concepts. If we had, perhaps I too would have volunteered. Kindly share your insights with us as and when possible.
     
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