Hospice: 10 Things Patients and Families Need to Know

Hospice is a care philosophy that focuses on maximizing the quality of life as opposed to the quantity of life. Hospice may incl...

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Feculence happens


Every Wednesday, I sit in on patient case conferences. At my practicum, this is where the doctor, nurses, social worker, and speech, physical, occupational, and recreational therapists sit down and discuss each patients needs one by one. The dynamic essentially parallels to that of a corporate business meeting, with the doctor serving as the CEO and everyone else pitching ideas. For each patient, the doctor ultimately has the final say and signs off on all the necessary paperwork.

Anyway, during today's meeting we were discussing the bowel problems of a particular patient. One therapist detailed how this person basically saturated a diaper, along with her hand, with human by-product. Everyone in the room looked at her sympathetically and joked about how they hoped she got paid extra for her experience. While these exchanges took place I quietly sat in my seat, in the process of consuming an angel food cupcake and attempting not to visualize what she had just described. Later in the meeting, someone commented that the rash between a different patient's buttocks had the same yellow color as the frosting of another cupcake sitting on the table. Fortunately, the cupcake I was eating at the time had blue frosting.

Now one might wonder why am I writing about such less palatable things on my blog. When I entered my MSW program, I knew that I ultimately wanted a job that allowed me to work in a hospital and use the medical model of social work. I essentially wanted to avoid anything that involved stabbing people with needles, slicing them open with scalpels, and cleaning up various forms of human waste - things that deterred me from pursuing other medical occupations. As of now I have yet to see anything too disgusting, though there are times I find myself trying not to hold my breath or gag while in a patients' room. Knowing that other practitioners in my unit regularly handle sights and smells I am still learning to tolerate, I have a much greater respect for them and am glad that I do not have to do their job.

My apologies to anyone who was eating while reading this.

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