Tuesday, October 30, 2012

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Today is a new day.

A better day.

A day to channel grace.

As Bryan Hardwick writes, "Grace leads us toward God and toward one-another."
What a wonderful direction to be led....

Friday, August 31, 2012

A Long Overdue Update

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How is it that almost two months can pass, actually almost six months can pass, without writing my weekly thoughts?

I had an amazing time on The Camino.

Three weeks trekking across northern Spain with my twin was good for my soul. Two changes of clothes, a camelbak full of water, a sleeping bag, plenty of bandaids to keep the toes from rubbing, and some toiletries....oh, and a bag full of quartz by the time I crossed Castilla y Leon (couldn't help it, they were everywhere we walked!)...

I returned to my assignment in Kansas for a 5-week extension, and it is coming to an end next week...

In the last several months, several significant things have occurred. One of the most compelling events has been my father's diagnosis of lymphoma.
He has made it through chemotherapy and just started radiation.

It's time to take a short break from travel and be there.

Isn't this why we travel? We like the flexibility of being able to take 3 week walks in Spain. We like to go places at the drop of a hat. We like the ability to stop everything when life calls us to be there for loved ones.

So! I am taking a four-month break from working for my travel company this fall, and I am returning home. Not just my home. The home of my parents.

still consider myself a traveling therapist. That is what I do. I go in where there is a void. I fill the void, pump up the practice, and try to leave each place better than when I arrived.

I am going to take my own little "assignment" (prn work) in two buildings near my parents' community this fall. I am excited to help out my parents and to be near my siblings. I will continue to work with our elder-crowd and look forward to spending more time writing about them again.

Yes, I have heard you. I will try to start posting more often!

I have a lot of thoughts about coming home, but I'll save those for the next couple posts. Suffice to say, life is full of circles, and at some point, we have to come around to close each one of them.


Monday, July 2, 2012

El Camino Trip, Day One

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Day One:

KC to Toronto to Madrid....arrive at 4 am tomorrow.

Backpack is stocked. Passport and money ready. Hiking shoes are worn in. 

I arrive within an hour or so of my twin and her family. We'll enjoy Madrid tonight before taking a train to Leon to start that section of The Way...

I am a little nervous!! This is a little more physical and a little longer walking vacation than I have done in the past. 

3 weeks. 


I'll try to post photos if I can download them from the internet cafes. 

Hasta luego, amigos. I'll be in touch.


Sunday, June 24, 2012

Considerations for Families of Terminally Ill Patients

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I am in the last week of this assignment! I absolutely cannot believe it. It has flown.

I have some grand plans on my break between this assignment and an extension at the same building into September. I am headed to Spain to walk a pilgrimage called El Camino de Santiago. You may have seen a movie called The Way which was directed by Emilio Estevez and whose main actor was his father, Martin Sheen. It's this path on which I will be trekking next week!

Anyway, I am working my last week on the initial contract at this facility, which I have come to appreciate....the therapy team, the residents, many others in the building, from the nurses to the dietary staff to the housekeepers.

They are good people.

So, my work week this week is Sunday through Thursday. Saturdays are always a great day to treat patients, but Sundays are sometimes a bit tough. Patients don't always want to work on Sundays.

I walked into Robert's room today. It was my first treatment with him. By the end of 45 minutes, I was pondering how amazing it is that people with terminal illnesses are able to achieve a level of intimacy with strangers like me that they are not always able to achieve with their own families with whom they have lived and loved for years.

Robert had dialysis yesterday.

I asked him about it. He was exhausted.

A word I have heard from dialysis patients often is WEARY.

Within five minutes, he shared with me that he was so tired that about six months ago, he had decided to go off dialysis and onto hospice. He could not take the strenuous schedule and the exhaustion he felt after each appointment.

Robert called a family meeting. His children could not accept it. He continued on dialysis. Because of them. Not his own needs. Theirs.

This is what so many people do. They hold on because their family members are not ready or willing to let them go. They hold on out of fear of what will happen to their elderly spouse if they pass. They just hold on.

And suffer.

I cannot judge this situation one way or another. I only know that I see so many older people suffer because they do not want to let their families down. I also know  -  and maybe this is because I work around long term care - that I would never want my parent to hold on because I didn't want them to die.

So, a note to family members of people with terminal illnesses: 

Consider letting your family member know that
  • you love them!
  • you do not want them to suffer!
  • if they feel they need to go, you support them on their journey beyond!

Can you imagine how much less suffering there might be if we could all just do that.....

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Sending Constance Beyond

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Remember my first patient who really inspired me at this assignment?
Constance, my 3pm appointment, with whom I loved to laugh during the Ellen Show...

She went out late last week to the hospital. She came back Monday with hospice services. Ohhhhhhh.....for all you who work in skilled nursing, sometimes those older folks you just love come home from the hospital ready for their life graduation.

Constance was laying still in her bed, covered only with a white sheet, white as a sheet herself, nasal canula supplying much needed oxygen to help her breathe. My own breath did a sharp intake.

"Oh, Constance!"

I could tell her life force was dwindling. Family had been called in. Most of the day, the room had been filled with family members. Two daughters stood outside the room.

I turned to them. "I just want you to know what a blessing your mom has been. I have enjoyed her so much!" I went on to tell them about what happened when we got together to prepare her arms for splinting.

They smiled broadly. I could tell it brought them some sense of relief from their grieving.  They encouraged me to go tell her goodbye.

I walked into the room. The hospice nurse aide was there at the bedside. I went to the other side of the bed and leaned into her ear.

I told her all the beautiful ways that she had touched my life. I wished her a lovely journey.

As I walked out of her room, I could almost close my eyes and transport myself to a building about 2 hours from here in which I had worked in the past, a building whose people handled death more lovingly, attentively and Christly than any I had ever seen.

The building had a special cart of cold and warm drinks and food. They had beautiful low music playing in the background. When the loved one passed, the body was escorted out of the building with a chaplain, followed by a member of each department, in prayer and honor to the one who had passed.

I will never forget the respect and honor that was paid to those graduates of life. I can only hope that I provide some sense of positivity to those who are preparing for their journey here.

"Waiting On An Angel"

Waiting on an angel
One to carry me home
Hope you come to see me soon
Cause I don' t want to go alone
I don' t want to go alone

Now angel won' t you come by me
Angel hear my plea
Take my hand lift me up
So that I can fly with thee
So that I can fly with thee

And I'm waiting on an angel
And I know it won' t be long
To find myself a resting place
In my angel's arms
In my angel's arms

So speak kind to a stranger
Cause you'll never know
It just might be an angel come
Knockin' at your door
Knockin' at your door

And I'm waiting on an angel
And I know it won't be long
To find myself a resting place
In my angel's arms
In my angel's arms

Waiting on an angel
One to carry me home
Hope you come and see me soon
Cause I don' t want to go alone
I don't want to go alone
Don' t want to go
I don't want to go alone

Thursday, May 31, 2012

A "Listen To" on Forgiveness

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I've been really working on forgiveness for the past 6 years. You know, when you focus on something like that, you're given opportunities in large and small ways to really experience it! In the past week, I've shared the Forgiveness Prayer with several people who were really struggling to move forward in their day due to emotional pain they felt at the hand of someone else's action.

This morning, I open my laptop, click the favorites tab on Krista Tippett's On Being page on the American Public Media, and what is featured?

A show on Getting Revenge and Forgiveness....

oh, Universe, you are always so timely!

Take a listen, folks, we are all here to learn these valuable lessons.


Thursday, May 24, 2012

Embracing Those Who are Different Than Us

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I pull the chart to do a review prior to the evaluation. Embedded way back near the last page of the records sent by the hospital in the middle of the PMH (past medical history) is a diagnosis of mental retardation.

Hank has been in the building twice before  and has rehabbed home both times. I ask a coworker, "Do you know Hank? There is one little diagnosis mentioned once, but nowhere else!"

"Yep." He confirms the diagnosis. "He is married and they live in a community with a group of folks who are mentally retarded...but they get married, have kids, work and get support from the community."

My memory immediately reverses to 1993 when I was working with adults with developmental disabilities in group home and community settings while I was in OT school.

I absolutely loved working with these joyful people!

I also remember the discrimination they received. I remember the uncomfortable stares when I would lead a group of five or six adults with mental retardation to the movie theatre or even through the airport to pick up a fellow client who had spent the holiday with family outside of town.

There was not always a lot of this:

Why do people
have difficulty
embracing those
who are
different from them?

There are philosophical and ethical discussions all over classrooms and the internet discussing whether people with mental retardation should be able to marry and have children. When I was working with this group, there would occasionally be discussions on the rights of clients within our organization and about how to handle sticky situations related to dating, sex and marriage. There was not cut and dry answer. Every situation had its own set of complexities.

Anyway, in I go to Hank's room after lunch. I knock on the open door. He is sitting with his back facing me, a frail, thin man with sagging shoulders and a bony face, but I can tell he is absolutely precious the moment I lay eyes on him.

I hear rustling in the bathroom. The bathroom door is wide open. Someone is peeing! I don't have to ask who. I stand at the doorway so I give his wife privacy. I hear the toilet flush, but no water running in the sink. Out walks the sweetest little lady with a head full of messy gray hair and a cane.

"Hi, there!" After introductions, " Did you by chance wash your hands?"

"Sure did."

A few minutes later when I go in to set up Hank up for ADLs, the sink is dry. Oh, well...on come the gloves.

I spend the next hour learning about Hank and Marta. They have been married for 59 years, have three adult children all working jobs and contributing to society. They respect each other in their communication. They demonstrate the nuances of a couple who have taken care of each other for many years. They reach out with familiarity to finish what the other could not, like Marta instinctively buttoning Hank's sleeves.

We are talking about his medical history when Hank reveals, "...and they put in a spacemaker."  He is patting his collarbone area on the left side.

On my paper, I note, "pacemaker," all the while thinking, "I am going to love working with this man." He is so earnest.

Their daughter comes in before the treatment is done. Many years ago, people would have said that she is "not quite right."

You know what? She is just right. She is outgoing, funny, loving to her parents and contributing to a better society.

I have to admit something. When I was a senior in high school, our National Honor Society hosted a Valentine's Party for the state school students, students with severe retardation and physical disabilities.

I was terrified.

I had not yet come to understand they they are beautiful souls, just in a different body and mind than in what we arrived onto this Earth.

What I know now is how deeply we are all connected. We are all here to take care of each other. It doesn't matter what color, creed, religion, socioeconomic status or intellectual level.

Let me say it again!  We are all here to take care of each other. And that means encouraging every person to shine their own individual light, their I Am essence, as brightly as they can.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

A Dash of Funny

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I ventured upon an interaction today that tickled me, grossed me out a little, and just made me shake my head!

Those of you who work SNF (skilled nursing facilities) know that you always have a few residents in your back pocket who could benefit from therapy when the caseload wanes and you have the opportunity to treat some Med Bs.

Today was the day.

I walked up to Dot who was sitting in a Broda wheelchair.

(By the way, Brodas are great for people with dementia, head injuries, Parkinson's and especially Huntington's Disease.)

Dot had been tearful and anxious every afternoon into the evening. In the long term care world, we call that "sundowning."  In addition, she had become combative when staff attempted to provide care for her, especially when she had to be bathed.

As her OT, my role was to identify a plan of care that would decrease Dot's behaviors and increase the ease with which the caregivers could provide for her. I wrote about this last December (CLICK ME) in Three Tips for Dementia Management.

Today, my intention was to administer the Allen Cognitive Level Scale.

The ACLS is a 3-part lacing task that provides an estimate of a person's cognitive function. Believe me, when I first saw it, I thought, "How in the world could that indicate a person's cognition and functional levels?"  It has proven accurate time and time again!

In addition, I use the Global Deterioration Scale to further confirm my patient's cognitive level. This is a less objective scale, but I find it quite useful when documenting cognition.

I took Dot to her room where there should be no distractions. She shares the room with her husband. Before we could even begin the ACLS, she had begun to direct me, "Ooohhh, what is they-at on my bay-ed?? (a pillow) Can you please move it? Please! Take it off my bay-ed!" I took the pillow off her bed and put in on the chair. And on and on she went for about 10 minutes until she had me move everything around.

Because hindsight is 20/20, I should have stopped right away and taken her out of the room. There was another distraction besides everything in the room, however, and it was in her hand.

She had just been to the beauty shop, and she had a death grip on
 a hairpin.

I decided to forge on (mistake). The ACLS is standardized, so I had to sit on her left side and read from a script. The whole screen is read, demonstrated and cued the same way no matter who I am testing. Every tester should administer it exactly the same way.

 I presented Dot with the ACLS and asked if she had seen anything like this before. Could she see the holes? (part of the standardization of the test).

"Yes, somewhere (to part 1). Yes, I can see the holes."

"Good job," I thought. Now, I'll read the script....

The moment I started to read the script and introduce the running stitch, I lost her. Out flicked the hairpin, and you know where it went?

Just guess.......in her

"Oh, no, Dot! Not there!" I could just see her punching out her eardrum. Memories of my mom's voice cautioning me not to stick the Q-tip too far into my ear returned full force.

Out she fished the hairpin and in a flash she had it in front of her lips.

"Oh, no, Dot! Not in your mouth!"

Before I could even get the words out, she had blown a hunk of wax right off the hairpin.

And I thought.....only here in long term care in the dementia unit...

I stopped reading the script. To hell with the script. She did not have the focus to complete this screen, which put her at Stage VI on the Global Deterioration Scale (during which: an individual cannot carry a thought long enough to determine a purposeful course of action) -

unless it is to clean out your ear with a hairpin...

I'm confident I will identify some activities to modify that Dot once loved, activities in which she can engage when she becomes anxious. But for today, I waved the white flag.

I surrender, Dot!
Let's try again tomorrow.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Moments of Lucidity

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So, you know how birds of a feather flock together?

Well, no matter where you go, you can find someone with whom you resonate!

I have been cycling on my way home through the historic Square of this little town in which I am living, and I have discovered an art gallery/coffee house that is open til 8 every night! I am so surprised!

I walked in tonight to a darling place that would rival those in any little American town, with a sizeable contingency of locals chatting with the owner. The art on the walls was captivating. The people were very friendly!
I love it that anywhere you go, you can find creative people...
you just have to look!

So, anyway, I am sitting in the coffee shoppe/gallery at this moment drinking an iced chai tea and feeling supremely happy that I have found a new place to spend my early evening hours.  This is just enough to get my creative writing juices going, so watch out!!

I'm also happy because I was inspired today by one of my patients.

I walked into Constance's room, my arms loaded with elbow splints, to reverse her elbow contractures.

I've explained contractures before, but let me tell you what is happening with this patient. Constance has dementia. Many people with dementia simply quit moving. When they quit moving, their muscle tone many times still feels normal, but their tendons become tight and joints become very stiff,  causing a loss of range of motion. You will usually find contracture formation in patients with dementia who experience it in multiple joints, i.e. both knees, both elbows and/or both hands.

Another thing that happens with people with end-stage dementia is that they quit talking. They simply become nonverbal. Constance is not completely nonverbal, but at this point, the other therapists tell me that she just doesn't talk much at all.

Constance was being treated for hand contractures when I arrived, but I discovered when I saw her for the first time that her elbow contractures had not been documented and treated. Hence, the splints.

Back to today...I had seen Constance earlier in the afternoon as the nurse aide wheeled her out of the shower room. She was doing what she does when she is feeling anxiety - breathing in and out quickly and whistling on the intake. I could tell she was stressed. (Check out my former blog entry that includes Bathing Without a Battle).

When it was time for her treatment, I went to her room.  It was time to fit the new elbow splints. I was really hoping that she was going to be relaxed.

Constance was reclined in her lift chair with a neck support

and covered with a colorful afghan, no doubt crocheted by a family member.

isn't that sweet? Makes me want to make one!

Anyway, what was on the tv, but the Ellen show.

I turned to Constance. "Oh, Ellen! Doesn't she just make everyone dance!"

Constance got a huge smile on her face. "Yes!"

I told her what I was going to do next. "Constance, I'm going to pick up your arm, gently shake it until it relaxes a bit and stretch it a bit at the elbow...then I'm going to put on this splint."


And that is what I proceeded to do. Constance and I were both actively interested in Ellen's introduction, during which Ellen revealed that a coveted guest, Johnny Depp, was going to finally be on her show. Of course, Constance didn't know this guy, but guess what?

She knew the older version of the movie he was pitching! Anyone know what it is?

Dark Shadows!

(BTW, Jonathan Frid, the guy who played Barnabas Collins died on Friday, the 13th of April - just a few weeks ago!)

"Constance, do you remember Barnabas Collins?"

"ooohhh, yes!" She was fully engaged!

"I do, too! I remember being about 4 or 5 and watching Dark Shadows when my mom was ironing my dad's work shirts. I was so scared of him!"

"Me, too!"

We went on to talk through the rest of her treatment, and she was able to converse within context and with emotion. She, delightfully, was full of smiles and eye contact.

This was a special day with Constance. These days are few and far between. I was the recipient of a lovely moment in her life. I don't know how much of her response was due to therapeutic use of self (aka bedside manner) or just a good day, but I guess I will find out tomorrow.

My goal is to activate her awareness, to engage her in reciprocal conversation and to even to dig up a few remote memories. If I can do that, it is undoubtedly a successful day.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Words of Wisdom Shared

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I receive a daily email called The Morning Blessings by a gal named Reverend Angela Peregoff. Her words touch me every morning.

A couple days ago, she wrote about St. Francis. Take a look at her Morning Blessing for May 4:

During these challenging times, each of us has the opportunity to inwardly introspect on what may be our own aggressive tendencies.  Sometimes we think, "Oh, I'm a very peaceful person.  I just love everyone!"  Try this: Walk down the street and look directly into the faces of others.  Objectively observe how your mind chatters about appearances.  You will be amazed at the overt and subtle ways in which aggression manifests.

Aggression of thought has its own vibratory potency, and it begins and ends with us.  It is good to often pray the prayer of Saint Francis, "Lord, make me an instrument of Thy peace."  Mean it.  Saint Francis' lesson was to heal the struggle he had with his vision of God. After a strong and powerful illness he came to an understanding. He saw that he had tried to equate "goodness" with "love of God," and they were not the same. Early one morning as the dawn began to break, when all was very quite and still, he heard a bird outside his window -- in a totally new way. In the power of the song of that bird he understood! The way to love God and the only way was to hear God's voice in everything.  In the mist of his physical healing he realized You love God through loving God, and not from anything else. He knew, absolutely, that there was no separation between the sounds of the world and the "Voice of God."  The birds that sang, the cries of the dying, the scream of the mad, in the despair of the leper, in the moans of the abandoned child. From that moment on, Francis could never again separate out any call for help from the God Source he knew to be Real.

The only difference between you and Saint Francis is that he came to know God was absolutely real and that he could be in touch with that reality at any time. He knew it, with all the power of his being. You also have that same potential. Go out today and be touched by the life and lessons of Saint Francis -- know that every moment you are speaking, you are not speaking to others; you are speaking to God.


I admire St. Francis.  He left a life of luxury to found the Franciscan Order. He lived in poverty. Many people thought he was mad, and I don't mean angry.

I walked outside at lunch and sat down on a park bench. I heard the birds with new ears; I watched the squirrels with new eyes. I thought about my patients who challenge my patience or get under my skin.

How do I open my heart to see theirs as voices of God?

St. Francis gave us the roadmap:

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
and where there is sadness, joy.

Yes, I know it's tough.  No one said it was supposed to be easy.

How much change could we effect
 if we all put this into daily practice?

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Inspire Creativity in your Life

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I walk down B Hall toward the nurses' station, and there is one lady that I have noticed since day one. I try to catch her eye from where she sits inside her room or at the doorway. I have learned her name, and I call out as I pass by:

"Good morning, Susan!"
"Good afternoon, Susan!"
"How are you?"

No answer. In fact, if you look in her eyes, you will notice that she is absolutely absent.

She's young for a nursing home resident. She's nonverbal, except for a very occasional word. I don't have her on my caseload, so I can't go peeking at her chart to take a look (HIPAA, remember! We have a Privacy Act we must follow!) ....

By the way, when one of my patients points across the room and asks, "What's wrong with (that patient)?" I reply,

their information is private, just like yours.
That means if someone asks about you, I can't tell them anything. But... if you want them to know you can tell them. If you want to know about him, you'll have to ask him.... and he may or may not tell you."

So, this gal. She puzzles me. Her look is soooo vacant. I am spurred to make a connection, but she is not making it easy.

I am thinking about her tonight as I write. My message isn't really about her; it's about what happens when you go through a period that feels as if you are walking through molasses in a swimming pool, or waking up endlessly fatigued.

Yes, it's personal. I sometimes wonder if I have recently drawn the energy of the people like Susan who seem like they are just waiting to die.

I'm not sure what it is, but I'm choosing to look at it as a "rest period." After all, towering oak trees grow through spurts (my creative time in California), then they need some rest time (here).

At any rate, I feel like I am coming out of the rest period and moving into a more creative place lately. I have been searching for activities and ways of spurring my creativity. Honestly, some of it has just bumped into me. (Being "lost" isn't always a negative thing!)

So, today I want to share some methods that help me on my creative path. Maybe one or two will move you, too.

Create an inspiring space.

Since I am in temporary living space, I can't quite decorate the way I did at my home:

my favorite room to rest and regenerate at the "Tre House"

so I bring together some of the notes, momentos, photos and small pieces of art together on a bulletin board.

These things are a constant reminder that each of us can make a difference!

Take a walk or a bike ride.

I can honestly say that when I ride my bike to work (9.5 miles) and back, I feel better! I see the which flowers are blooming, smell when someone has cut their grass, look up at the clouds and feel more thankful to be alive.

Shasta Daisies from the Tre House garden

Try a new food or drink that you've never tried before.

Our prn PT Tracy brought in some foods from Trader Joe's yesterday that many of my coworkers and I had never tasted. It was such fun! Then again, everything Tracy does is fun. She is uplifting.

Visit with a friend you haven't seen for a while, especially a positive one!

I spent last evening with a very special friend, Angela. We used to teach Reiki CEU courses together, and she is one of the most amazing healers I know. When we get together, we can solve the world's problems, stimulate our appetite for creating and manifesting whatever we want in our lives. When I leave her, I feel "right on track."

Turn off the boob tube.

I know it's easy to get sucked into a series, but really...how much of our lives do we need to lay around watching senseless reality shows? There are so many amazing things we can do.

Make your list!

So, this is how the Universe works for me much of the time. I wrote, Make your list...then I thought, let's check out You Tube for a good video. Click on this one, and the first thing you see is

Make lists....   : )

This is a great video. So great, in fact, that I think it's a good place to pause and have a refreshing, positive, creative day at work...

You guys have a great day!!

Monday, April 30, 2012


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My twin, Elle, visited me for several days and she walked me to the door this morning as I left for a half day work before spending the rest of the day with her.

She looked me over. Grey-blue Grey's Anatomy scrubs

down to my Mary Janes

"Hhhmmmm, I like your shoes!"

I told her, "So does my 93 year old patient. Every time she looks down and sees my feet, which is at least three times a treatment session, she breaks out in her wicked-witch-of-the-west voice,

"Now you can just put those shoes right in my closet!"

(little deeeaarrriiiee)....really, she could have been on the Wizard of Oz...

and Elle said,

"You need to write about shoes!"

I've procrastinated tonight, having spent the evening with Elle and another wonderful little sister, Kate, so I'm going to make this short and sweet.

Choose the right shoe!

I had gotten to the point a couple years ago when I was limping by the time I got home. I was wearing expensive running shoes. They didn't work for me! By fluke, I was in a uniform store in northern California that carried a brand called

Alegria (the emphasis is not on the leg  but on the gri .) Click on the link and it will take you to their website.

Check them out. Really! Within a day, I realized that I had no  foot pain. I have been brand loyal since then. Not only do they feel wonderful, they look great. Someone comments on those shoes every day.

We healthcare providers spend too much of our days on our feet - and you know the saying - we need to take care of ourselves before we can take care of others....

so, take care of your feet...

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Bathing Whimsy

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The patient I wrote about yesterday?

Eva looked like a different person today. Honestly, I was dumbfounded at how much she had improved since yesterday. I have to give credit where credit is due - I have to believe divine intervention played a part. It was too much of a turnaround to be chance or meds or anything other than what it was.

Anyway, this morning I introduced Eva to a leg lifter. It's used primarily following hip surgeries to help lift the leg when you're getting in and out of bed.

Eva sat on the edge of the bed without assistance and began a bed bath with a pan of soapy warm water. She did great! Of course, she couldn't reach her feet (gotta be careful about bending!). I assisted, and she did the rest.

As she worked her way toward the middle of her body, she started to tell me a story.

"When I was a little girl, my mom used to say,

Wash down as far as possible,

then wash possible."

I paused a second before it sunk in. Then I began to laugh.

I had never heard that before! What a kick! That was my whimsy for the day. I learn something new every day, and today that was it. A new description for that part of the body.

When I told Stacie, the COTA, she had heard it before. In fact, she could add to the story. One of her patients (this must be a Kansas thing) had told her that Loretta Lynn had sung about this....

Of course, I tried in vain to find the song to include it in the post, but no luck.

Do any of you know more of the story? Send it if you do!

Monday, April 23, 2012

Healing in All Forms

Back to my blog home page: http://travelingotr.blogspot.com

I'm at the three week mark,

almost a month, in this new assignment...

I can't believe it!

This is a really great place.

I've come to enjoy how easy it can be to do therapy when you have all  
  • the staff (5 OTs/5 PTs/1 ST)
  • equipment (anything we need)
  • beautiful living environment  (clean, quiet, well decorated, like a hotel)
  • and support (manageable caseloads and efficiency standard/tech/great Director)

that is possible in a company.

It’s nice to have an easy  assignment!!

In addition to work, I'm enjoying visits with my parents every weekend, laughter and deep life discussions with my many siblings, and working on a small cottage my twin and I purchased near mom and dad. I’m connecting with dear friends from the area. Family is why I have returned.

I loved California so very much. Although it was difficult to leave there, I am grateful for this time with my family and lifelong friends.

It's amazing how when we make a change, our schedules and daily priorities can shift!

At times during the week, I find myself


It is natural when one is in a new assignment. It is easy to connect with the patients. It's not always easy to make new friends right away. In fact, I found that the point at which you really make a good friend is about the four-month mark, just after I have extended... It just seems to happen that way…for me, anyway.

Something happened today that lessened the loneliness.

Today, I had the pleasure of co-treating with a physical therapist with whom I have had limited contact.  Our patient, Eva, admitted on Thursday evening last week following a hip revision (a re-do) in which the ortho surgeon actually broke her femur as he was trying to get her original hardware out.

To top it off, when I evaluated Eva on Friday, she was having hallucinations from her medications and was unable to keep food or fluids down. She required max x 2 for all tasks (that means she needed almost total help for moving in bed, dressing, toileting and standing). She could not cognitively follow the NWB order (non-weight bearing) on her leg.

She was just a mess.

I came in this morning (Monday) a few minutes after the PT had arrived. We gently guided Eva from lying in the bed to sitting up, allowing her to do as much as possible. The PT was on one side of the bed facing Eva’s back, and I was on the other in front of her. As soon as I saw the PT place hands lightly on Eva’s shoulders to guide her, I knew immediately that she was a fellow energy worker.

It was the intention she used. It was lovely!

“Do you do energy work?” I asked her.

She looked me in the eye. I smiled. She smiled back.


“I’m a Reiki practitioner,” I revealed. I was so happy to find someone like me. It’s the same way I feel when I meet a twin, or a person from a large family, or a person who loves the same out-of-the-way places and activities that I like. Or a kindred spirit like Elsje, a talented ST I met through writing this blog.

“You’re one of only two people who have noticed this in all my years of doing PT.”

Eva began struggling with nausea and pain. We moved from our conversation to supporting her with healing intentions. What followed has few words to describe.

Our focus became only about silently providing Eva with the highest level of support to assist her in moving past this difficult place in which she found herself. We moved in tandem as if we knew what the other was thinking without speaking. Eva reached a point in which she could sit nearly unsupported; however, we both kept hands on her as she began a series of deep, thrusting dry heaves and began vomiting.

I have to admit here that I have never been able to deal with vomit, except when my children were young. I could hold a cool cloth to their heads and take care of them without blinking an eye. When it comes to any other person in the world, my hyperactive gag reflex kicks in and I will lose it if I am in the presence of someone losing their lunch.

We were in such a deep and almost meditative place of providing support for Eva that in a surreal way, it was the first time I didn’t bolt for the door and call for a nurse. It was as if the three of us were surrounded by Divine support and guidance. It’s difficult to imagine that a scene such as this could be a spiritual experience, but it was.

It was about caring for someone else at the most basic level – and really, it’s about why we are all here. It’s about loving humankind. We intended God’s highest and holiest healing for her, and it took us out of the “now” moment of oh-my-gosh-she’s-puking to a place  I can’t describe.

In a few minutes, Eva made a remarkable change.

She was able to get dressed with assistance, make an amazingly improved transfer following her weight bearing status from the bed to the wheelchair and then pushed the wheelchair to the therapy department.

If you had seen this woman at the beginning of the treatment, you would never have guessed she would be able to do this.

I am convinced  that something very meaningful occurred,  that it propelled Eva’s healing…and that it came from a Presence much greater than either of us.

What IF …

each day

we intend

the highest and holiest healing