As most of you know, I work as a social worker on an in-patient hospice unit. It is a challenging job, but is definitely very rewarding. All of our patients are terminally ill and dying. During the past year, we have started a program that we refer to as "one last wish". The goal of the program is to take "wishes" that our patients have and make them come true within the time they have left. Most of the time, we try to do these things as surprises for our patients. We come up with the "wishes" from the information the patients tell us or from their family members.
For example, we had a patient who loved to go fishing with family and friends- it was pretty much his favorite past time. During several of my sessions with him he mentioned how he would love to go fishing one last time. We were able to arrange a fishing trip for him- equipped with a handicap boat and all. The day before the fishing trip, I told him about the trip we had planned for him and gave him a fishing hat. The look on his face was priceless- it was like a little kid hearing that he was going to Disney World. Sadly, the next day he became too sick to go on the fishing trip. It crushed my heart- but he wore that fishing hat so proudly. I truly believe that he was just thankful for our thoughts and planning. He passed away a few days after our planned fishing trip, I will always remember him. A couple of days after he passed, his brother came in to thank us for everything we had done for him. His brother shared with me that he would wear the fishing hat we gave the patient in memory of him and his love for fishing.
Another family expressed to us that their brother always enjoyed Christmas caroling on Christmas Eve. Due to the patients illness, he was not going to be able to go out and go caroling. So, we were able to bring Christmas Carolers to his room. I have never seen so many people tear up while singing "Silent Night"- there was not a dry eye in the room. The look on his face was just amazing... he lived about eight days after Christmas Eve, it was a great feeling to know that we were able to make his last Christmas Eve one to remember.
Another patient expressed that she wanted "Amazing Grace" sang at her bedside when she was dying. When the time came, we were able to get a volunteer in to sing "Amazing Grace" to her.... it was very beautiful and peaceful. The patient passed away just hours after the ceremony.
Our most recent "last wish" is taking a patient to the movies, one last time. The patient has always enjoyed the movies and the film business. He had no idea that a movie would actually be created in all 3-D and have the momentum like Avatar. He talked about wanting to be able to go see the movie, but thinking that he was too sick to make it out. We are planning a surprise trip to the movies for him this coming week. I can not wait to see the look on his face when he hears where we will be heading!!! Of course, the trip would not be complete with out some soda and pop corn :) I will keep you all posted.
I hope you enjoyed a little look into my world at work...it may be a stressful job and sad at times, but it certainly is rewarding. I enjoy being able to make people's "last wishes" come true and their darkest days just a little brighter. I have met many people- maybe for just for a few days, weeks, or months but they have all touched my life in one way or another and I truly believe I am a better person because of them.
Until next time.... have a great rest of the weekend. I will be busy tomorrow resting, doing some cleaning, and heading to dinner at our friend's house!