Saturday, October 31, 2009

Happy Halloween!

I hope everyone enjoyed the holiday. Gary and I, as is our Halloween custom, had dinner out -- Thai appetizers for dinner -- and then had decadent desserts and drinks at a chocolate bar in town. Then we came home and watched Scrubs, with blinds drawn and outside lights off. Yes: we are terrible people who try to avoid trick-or-treaters.

Speaking of which, this afternoon we saw a fairly grisly, but fascinating, trick-or-treater enjoying a treat in our backyard. Some kind of raptor (hawk, I think, but Gary wondered if it was a falcon) had caught and killed a smaller bird and sat in our yard methodically devouring it before flying away with the rest of the carcass. The raptor was gorgeous. Gary and Bali and I were all glued to the window, watching it. It wasn't a good day for the little bird, though.

This morning was my first hospital shift since early September. It felt good to be back, but it was a strange shift. We had some heavy-duty cases, but I barely got to talk to anyone associated with them. I spent some time trying to track down the relative of an intubated patient who'd been admitted to the ICU, but that person had evidently left the building. We had a very sick child who was being transferred to the ICU of another hospital, but that bed was so surrounded by medical folks that I never even got into the room. At the very end of my shift, the victim of a violent crime came in. The case manager asked if I'd talked to the patient, and another volunteer asked if I'd talked to the patient, and I wanted to talk to the patient, but every time I went to the room, something else was happening and it wasn't the right time.

At the end of my shift, I said to the case manager, "The police are in there interviewing right now. Do you think I should stay until that's over?"

We decided that I shouldn't; the police and other medical staff were providing support, and family would be arriving soon. So I went upstairs to sign out. But on my way out, I started feeling guilty and went back. I knocked on the door and waited for a pause in the police interview to introduce myself (the officer was very nice; we'd spoken previously in the hallway). The patient didn't want to talk, but thanked me for coming by, as did the police officer. So I left feeling a little less like I'd run out on someone in dire need.

It would have been easier if I'd known that another volunter chaplain would be there later in the day, but from the schedule, it looked like that wasn't the case. Ordinarily, I try to be pretty firm about my own boundaries -- if I let myself get into "just one more patient" mode, I'd never get out of the hospital -- but this was an unusual situation. I have to admit that I was a little relieved, though, when the patient didn't want to talk.

Thank goodness for police. I don't know how they do their jobs, but I'm glad they do.

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