Jun 21, 2022
by Melissa C Palmer, LCSW, ACHP-SW, APHSW-C, JD
In honor of PRIDE month, I re-watched the documentary “Gen Silent”, directed by Ben Mattux. The people who fought for equity and safety for the LGBT community are now finding themselves returning to the closet out of fear of victimization, othering and marginalization at group living communities for older adults.
While palliative care has made tremendous headway as its own specialty, referrals continue to be placed late in the trajectory of serious illness. With the plethora of studies proving the effectiveness of palliative care in supporting those living with serious illnesses and those that love them as well as decreasing healthcare costs, I continue to be perplexed as to why there continues to be a hesitancy in referring early.
Jun 7, 2022
by Devin Gilhuly, MD Katherine Morrison, MD Kerry "Nellie" O'Connor, MD
There are many tasks and distractions that demand our attention during the work day. The average employee reports spending 40% of their time and energy on tasks that are unimportant to them; leaving only 60% of their time and energy to focus on what is important to them.
Even though I live in a dry climate where rainstorms are few and far between, I still carry an umbrella in my car. I only needed to get caught once in a sudden raging rainstorm to never want to be in that situation again without the protection of an umbrella.
Medical Assistance in Dying (MAID) is defined by the authors as “the administration of a lethal substance by a medical practitioner to a consenting person to intentionally cause their death or prescribing a substance that the eligible person takes themselves, in order to bring about death.” This study was conducted in Canada and MAID was legalized there in 2016.
One fateful day on my very first clinical, I was assigned to a young woman with breast cancer that had turned into leukemia post-treatment. She was very weak, and her husband and two young girls were going to visit that day. I helped her bathe, and it was one of those seminal moments where I really began to understand the truth of care-giving.
She was a strikingly beautiful woman. She lived life fully, juggling her catering business with raising her kids, being a partner to her doting husband, and occasionally doing a favor for friends and serving as a model for their restaurant business. Life was good. Until the dentist found a lump.
In our busy lives, it can be tempting to create more hours in the day by sacrificing the time we spend sleeping. However, sleep is essential to our well-being—benefits of high-quality sleep include memory consolidation, improved cognitive performance (alertness, attention, and vigilance), and improved mood regulation.
Apr 19, 2022
by Beth Patterson, MA, Certified Palliative Care Chaplain
In my email this week was a link to the On Being blog, called ‘The Pause’. I read it early in a week which holds the anniversary of both of my parents’ deaths; my mother’s when I was 23. This story resonated in a way that felt like it might be worth sharing with our palliative care network.
The common theme of my palliative care rotation has been an inability to identify my own emotions. Without warning, some unidentifiable but powerful emotion will hit me square in the chest and before I can even label it, BAM!
Patty*, a woman who had already been in the hospital for weeks, was facing impossibly difficult decisions regarding how she would choose to live. Would she follow her sisters’ wishes and attempt to regain strength with a feeding tube in her nose for another month in the hospital to then be reevaluated for surgery and possibly end up in what could be the same predicament? Or would she choose to go home to live her days unattached to machines to be enjoyed with her family comfortably?
Mar 29, 2022
by Christine Merchant MSPC BSN RN CHPN
During this past two year struggle with Covid-19, we were consulted for those long term ICU vented patients that were not progressing. The majority were unvaccinated, ventilator dependent, and families were not about to give up. Intensivist’s getting frustrated after sometimes weeks of discussions would reach out to the palliative team to see if perhaps a different dialogue could somehow change things. I became known as the Covid support nurse.
Mar 22, 2022
by Beth Patterson, MA, Certified Palliative Care Chaplain
For some, the term ‘doula’ brings to mind home and alternative birthing scenes. The term has been borrowed from the birthing movement to add a layer of support to the deathing movement. You may begin to hear the term ‘end of life doula’ from your patients and their families, as the movement gains traction.
I saw many family meetings throughout my time with the palliative care team, but one stands out and will shape how I approach future patients. This was a patient with multiple severe GI pathologies occurring and had unclear goals of care.
One of the many patients who left a lasting impact on me was a 92-year-old woman. I was amazed by her strength and will. Her story is that she was at home, a place where she had lived for most of her adult life. She fell down 15 stairs and broke her neck.
Since its release in December, I've watched the movie Encanto with my kids three times, undistracted, and like many families right now, the soundtrack is also playing on repeat in the car, house, and mind. I haven't experienced emotive earworms this strong since "Let it go" (Frozen 1, of course).
As I watch a snowstorm move in over the Rocky Mountains, the necessity of water comes to mind. Today’s snowfall will melt into flowing rivers, filling reservoirs, offering a balm for our scorched Denver landscape and the hope that this summer will not again fill our hearts with the terror of fire.
Feb 15, 2022
by Melissa C. Palmer, LCSW ACHP-SW APHSW-C JD
On December 24, we learned my dad needed cardiac surgery. Not just any surgery, but a triple bypass. His 90% occlusion in three arteries stymied my family; my dad is healthy, does not drink or smoke, exercises regularly, and plans to live to be 100 like many of his ancestors.
63 years old, large tumor in the liver, probably hepatocellular carcinoma but he wanted no biopsy, not a test, no treatment. I called and an overly cheerful man picked up the phone and in short order confirmed that he knew he was dying and did not want anything to slow that down. He said he was just an old hippy and he wanted to stay home and smoke pot till he died.