Be Kind—in a Health Care Setting (#BestOf)

(the Best of) A Year of Being Kind, Tuesday, March 28, 2017

As I looked at this post from three years ago, I was reminded that I have helped out many relatives and acquaintances over the years. My siblings and I quite willingly were there for our elderly relatives. Moreover, I have also been trained in chaplaincy, so I have specific skills in dealing with people in hospitals and care centers. This is so important, especially for those patients and residents who do not have family or friends who are able to come and see them regularly, and give them a hand. Please, consider this opportunity to encourage someone, to brighten their day, and give them a cheery word.

 BK no act of kindness is wasted

A Year of Being Kind blog – Monday, March 24, 2014

Take the Opportunity to Be Kind—in a Health Care Setting.

I did some housework for an acquaintance of mine today. Some cleaning, some laundry. Took care of a few necessary things. This service was much appreciated, too! But what about people who need some kind of help or assistance, and are unable to find anyone to come and give them a hand?

This is a sad situation, indeed. Imagine—an older person, or a person with limited mobility, who wants to do things or go somewhere, and rarely is able to. Or perhaps a person who is confined to a wheelchair or a walker and badly needs some assistance in their home—but is unable to afford anyone to come in and help on even an occasional basis.

I know that because of employment, family obligations, continuing health concerns, or any of a host of other urgent matters, sometimes relatives and friends are unable to assist their ill or shut-in loved ones. In my work as a chaplain, I’ve seen people come to the hospital, loved ones who came a long distance to see their relative. Their relative—the patient—might not have any relations or even friends living close by. I know what a difficult thing this can be for some people (both for the patient as well as the far-away relatives). And even more complications can result when an older or infirm patient is released from a hospital or rehab facility. They come home to . . . what? Who? If they previously lived alone, it’s a real challenge to find someone for them to stay with. Or to stay with them in their house.

This reminds me of my elderly aunt, who died just about three years ago. My aunt and my mother lived together in my mom’s house for a number of years. That is, until my mom died about a dozen years ago. Then, my 80-something year old aunt moved into a senior apartment building. Nice-sized studio apartments, with an additional kitchenette, too. It’s a good thing my aunt had three nieces to check on her regularly (me, my older sister, and my cousin). Between the three of us, my aunt had visitors at least twice a week, and sometimes three, and even four days every week. But I know that some other families are not as fortunate or as close-knit.

All this talk of families and God and encouragement and illness intrigue me. A particular Hebrew word leaps to mind, too. The Hebrew word “mitzvah” means the precepts or commands of God. As a second meaning, Hebrew mitzvah, means something similar as the English “commandment.” Often, it’s a moral deed performed as a religious duty. The term mitzvah has also come to mean an act of human kindness.

So, whether you or I consider our act of kindness altruistic or a mitzvah performed as a religious duty, these are wonderful opportunities to show others you care for them! Love them! Do you know someone who needs assistance? Someone who has limited mobility? Ask if you can give them a hand. And chances are, they might say yes!

@chaplaineliza

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(Suggestion: visit me at my blog: matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers– where I am doing a PEACE journey through Epiphany and beyond, into Lent. #PursuePEACE. Pursuing Peace – Thanks!)

 

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Got Concerns? Be of Service!

A Year of Being Kind blog – Thursday, July 17, 2014

Peace John 14-27

Got Concerns? Be of Service!

Yesterday evening, I heard a dear acquaintance of mine was in the hospital. I needed to take care of some necessary personal stuff this morning (including getting a check-up on my tooth extraction, which I found is healing nicely!). Later in the morning, I tried to track down my friend, making several telephone calls. I was successful! I met with my friend this afternoon. We had a nice (and brief) visit; I do hope everything will be going well at the rehab center from now on.

Sure, I had concerns! Of course I was wondering what was happening! Yes. Not only for my friend, but also for myself (and my tooth). And, those were only two of the things I did. But even though I did some necessary business today, I still was able to check on my friend. I did not allow my concerns to paralyze me and cause me unnecessary distress or anxiety. I was able to deal with these several concerns, using my less-anxious presence. (Thank you, chaplain training!)

I remember a situation some years ago, when I only had my first two daughters. The older had just finished kindergarten. My younger one was three. Our family attended a church for the first time. Then, coffee hour time! (Cookie hour, my children called it.) The girls were running around in the church basement with the other Sunday school children. Wouldn’t you know that my oldest took a flying leap off the stage. (She was very athletic.) She landed on her feet, no problem. But she had too much momentum. She continued in a forward direction, and crash-landed on her face and hands. Crying ensued. Plus—she chipped her brand-new top front teeth.

I was only a few dozen feet away, so I came to her side. The pastor’s wife was a registered nurse, so she wasn’t far behind me. She checked out my daughter, who—other than being a bit surprised by her accidental meeting with the floor—was quite all right. The pastor’s wife remarked to me afterwards she was surprised that my daughter’s crying subsided so quickly. She looked at me more closely, and made a discerning statement. She said my calm, quiet demeanor in such a traumatic situation really helped my daughter to calm and quiet herself. I was amazed at her words. (And I still remember them, about twenty-five years later.)

Amazing, prescient words. And look at me now! God has led me through seminary, into chaplain training and service. Now, into pastoral ministry. Thank God I can be there for people like my friend at the rehab center, today. And, thank God I have been trained to use my natural less-anxious presence effectively, in a number of situations. God, how are You going to lead me to serve tomorrow? I suspect it will be interesting, whatever it is.

@chaplaineliza

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Helping A Friend In Need

A Year of Being Kind blog – Tuesday, July 15, 2014

God making a way

Helping A Friend In Need

Today was a day to be helpful. And caring. I went to visit a good friend of one of my relatives, in the hospital. He had had a procedure recently, and I said I would go to see him. Wouldn’t you know, when I got there, he had just checked out of the hospital.

But wait—that’s not the end of it! I then called one of his relatives while I was standing there in the hospital lobby. In considerable distress, the relative told me about a serious concern she had. Immediately, I felt my chaplain skills swing into action. Of course I tried to help her to calm down, to try to be less frantic and more relaxed. I asked her for possible choices she might make, and helped her see that she could take some action in the specific situation. And even though she felt weak, she was neither helpless nor powerless.

After traveling back from downtown Chicago, I swung by the friend’s house to check on him. See how he was doing. I didn’t stay very long at all, but I was relieved to see he was resting. Thank goodness, especially since he had just been released from the hospital!

Afterwards, I reflected that I haven’t been coming alongside of people as much, as when I was a chaplain. Then, of course, I helped people in the hospital on a regular basis. Assisted them when they had concerns, facilitated getting answers, prayed for them and their loved ones when they asked, journeyed with them when they needed someone by their sides. Sure, sometimes I do this here at my new job, too! However, my current job is just not as intense a position as the one where I was working in a high-needs, intensive trauma situation.

God knows that I am facing new challenges and new joys in this new position, at the church! But, I really appreciated coming back to the familiar ground of a hospital. And as is often the case, I find that people are people. Their serious concerns still touch me deeply, and it doesn’t matter whether I hear of these concerns by email, over the telephone, on the street, or next to a hospital bed.

I pray that God will be with my friend, his relative, and with all those I know who are suffering and in pain today. Please, God, touch them in a special way today.

@chaplaineliza

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What About Someone Who Doesn’t Feel Legit?

A Year of Being Kind blog – Tuesday, June 10, 2014

hugs, hearts

What About Someone Who Doesn’t Feel Legit?

The time was later in the day. A grey, cold day for June, and had been raining most of the afternoon. At the tail end of some writing work, I needed to get everything finished before I left for the day. The preschool down the hall continued to empty—I heard the cars stopping and starting again with half an ear. As I sat at the desk and pounded the computer keys, the doorbell outside the front door rang. Hmm?

I went through the outer office and peered around the corner. A tall, sort of scruffy-looking man walked back towards his pick-up. Nice, newer model truck, I thought. I opened the door. “Hello!” I called, in my best friendly voice. The man stopped, turned around. Walked toward me. Older, rather than younger. Hair mostly grey, baseball-style cap with a few faint stains. Smaller handlebar mustache, even.

“Hello, ma’am.” He extended his hand. I introduced myself as the interim pastor. “Do you mind if I talk to you for a few minutes?” I smiled and made a welcoming gesture with my hand. “Certainly. Why don’t you have a seat?” As he passed by on the way to the pew against the wall, I got a clear whiff of alcohol. Coming out of his pores. He looked clear-eyed enough, but he must have been drinking quite a large amount recently to be in that kind of situation. I could smell the booze from five or six feet away.

Then the sad story came out. I must admit, he told it well. A contractor and carpenter for most of his life, doing some roofing more recently. With little touches like, breaking his back, both arms and a bunch of ribs by falling off a roof about two years ago. His aged parents had nursed him back to health. Then a long, almost fanciful description about his parents’ home in a small town—sounded almost idyllic. Except that there was hardly a job to be had in that area. So, because of back problems, and health issues, and herniated something-or-other, he had packed the truck and come back to the big city.

Now, here I intuited that he was telling the truth, amidst the fanciful fabrications. He made mention of a specific hospital where he was being treated. A ways from the church, but that did sound legit.

I interrupted him, and asked him in a kind voice, “I’ve been listening to your long, involved story for some time. What is the most important thing for you to ask me, right now?” He took a deep breath, looked at me with an assessing eye. Then made his pitch for money. “If you could see your way to giving me a little money for gas. That’s all I need.”

“I don’t have any money available right now, I’m afraid. But you mentioned that you were really hungry. You have lost lots of weight in the past weeks, you said, because you didn’t have food,” was my response, still in a kind voice. See, I had been listening. “And what you mentioned in your story? Sounds a lot like you did Step 4 and Step 5 with that priest. Making amends? Sounds like you were working Steps 8 and 9.” His eyes narrowed. The corner of his mouth twitched—not favorably. “Yeah, I heard about that stuff . . . “ he replied, slowly. “I guess.”

I stood up and walked down the hall to the other side of the narthex. He followed. On the table stood two boxes with the collection for the local food pantry. “I’m sorry I don’t have any money, but you are welcome to any of this food.” He cast an eye over the gathered food and grabbed some cans of vegetables. He thanked me, but his bright story-telling persona had gone away. I had a suspicion it might. On the way out the door, he asked me whether I knew of any other churches nearby. Sure, I mentioned a large Catholic church about seven or eight blocks away. Right down the street. “Oh.” Again the twitch with his mouth, and he mentioned something about already going there, before.

As I sent him on his way with the cans of vegetables and an encouraging smile, I felt a twinge of sadness. I knew about the solution for some of his difficulties, at least. Since I have a certification as Alcohol and Drug Counselor, I know about the help that comes from the 12 Steps and from the recovery program. But he did not seem open to hearing about that, at all. God, I listened to him. I provided him with some food, and gave him encouraging smiles. But God, I didn’t give him what he most wanted, perhaps what he most needed. Money for alcohol. I pray for him. I pray that he can find the solution for his problems. And find You, God, in the process.

@chaplaineliza

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Being Kind, Accompanying a Friend

A Year of Being Kind blog – Thursday, April 24, 2014

 

friendship when people know all about you

Being Kind, Accompanying a Friend

I accompanied a friend to a medical visit today. I was happy to! Really.

This reminded me of situations in the hospital or in the care center, where I—the chaplain—would stay with patients and their relatives while medical personnel came into the room and talked at length about their medical condition. Or, about other sensitive or confidential information.

Of course, I would never stay without their permission. Sometimes, if the patient was unable to request my presence, the family members would. And, I understood, oftentimes. If I do say so myself, I have a comforting, less-anxious presence. This is helpful when I deal with upset or anxious patients and loved ones, or even angry and downright upset patients and relatives. And on occasion, the patient or family want me to pray for them, pray for the loved ones at home or scattered throughout the country. Or, pray for healing of body and soul, pray for comfort and encouragement for everyone involved (in the hospital and outside, too).

There’s another reason I remain with them: an extra pair of ears is sometimes helpful, too. I’ve seen it happen again and again. Even though the medical personnel often speak slowly and try to make sure the patient and family understand all the explanations and details and options, sometimes things can be overwhelming. All the information, all the upset, all the distraction. The unfamiliar rooms and beds, the hospital units, the unfamiliar staff coming into the rooms at all hours. And in some hospitals, the sheer size of the facility can be intimidating.

Not that my friend today was involved with any of these unpredictable aspects, but all the things eventually got squared away. I did, however, keep my ears open when the medical personnel came in, and I simply listened. Active listening, I mean. I hold people’s confidences very dear to my heart, and do my very best to get the clear picture from the medical professional. Just as backup for my friend, in case there was any clarification needed or discrepancy found.

My friend and I had a good talk, after the office visit. I am glad I was there to be an extra pair of eyes, ears and way of transportation.

I wonder: will there be anyone to do that for me? I am in fairly good health. (Yay, me!) I don’t think I need to go into the hospital or care centers right now. So, I suspect there will be sometimes when my loved ones need medical care. Or, even me! I might need to go to the doctor or oral surgeon or some other kind of professional. Ya never know. (I don’t!)

@chaplaineliza

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