Thursday, June 25, 2009

"Pal Care" and Shoeboxes

Recently, my team and I were sitting and talking with a patient who was hospitalized due to severe pain from multiple myeloma. On her admission, this lovely vivacious woman was reduced to a cringing shell, praying for death.
Fortunately, we were able to positively affect her symptoms and she became much more talkative and showed us a spunky, flirtacious woman who has more life than three normal people combined.
She has labelled our team "Pal care" and I asked her if it was really that hard to say the word palliative? She laughed and said... "No silly, you guys are my pals, so you guys are Pal care".
What a great idea and one which caught us all aback, yes indeed we try to be the patient's Pal.
This lovely woman also explained to us that we now have a Pal Care shoebox.
When asked to explain, she said that everyone has a shoebox, the oncologists live in the cancer shoebox, her fears live in the stinky thoughts shoebox, and now we are in the Pal care shoebox. I cannot think of a better description of "compartmentalization".
Today, as she was preparing to leave tomorrow morning, she asked me to stay behind and speak privately to her after the team left the room.
She spoke to me of her fears... fears of death... fears of a life of pain... and fears of saying goodbye to the hospital family she has grown to love, even without knowing their names.
As I left, she touched my hand and said, "thank you for helping me deal with the stinky thoughts shoebox".

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