Wednesday, February 24, 2010
We are currently on death watch for my grandmother-in-law.
Nana is 94 years old and from her bed in the nursing home, has refused food, water and medication for the last several days. Simply put, she's lost the will to live. Yet, she's in no pain, she's not dying from cancer or anything-she's just very, very old (and as we all know, age isn't about years, but aboutthe life in those years)
This morning over coffee, we got today's update on Nana's condition. Stable. This is actually bad news...she's not faltering quickly, and the dying process could drag out for weeks.
This sparked conversations about what we'd want to have happen if we're ever in Nana's condition. first and foremost, we have legal documentation that let's our wishes be known. Second, we talk about the hard topics; life support, Alzheimer's, dementia, etc.
Because death is so taboo to so many people, their wishes are never known. And that, my friends, leaves a lot of pressure on the family.
I encourage you to take the time to discuss your wishes with the people you love. Even better, drop $100 on a lawyer writing up your wishes. We're all going to succumb to the ggreat equalizer, sooner or later. My goal is to stay out of that grey area between life and death. Whatever your wishes, communicate them now, while you're in the white zone.
Monday, February 22, 2010
For example, if you've kept up with me on Facebook, you've probably seen that the last few months have been spent getting my newest health care book finished. Well, it finally got sent off to the typesetter this morning! Keep your fingers crossed, but it should be in hard copy and ready to distribute by early April. Yippie!
For the last couple of years of taking notes, observing scenarios, etc. that have been turned into this book, I've planned on the title: "The Other End Of The Stethoscope: 33 MORE Insights For Excellent Patient Care."
Last week, I got a call from one of my distributors. He said that when their buyers see two books with such similar titles, they often cancel each other out. I.E., instead of buying both as a set, they'll buy neither. We certainly don't want that. So, what to do? Change the title!
Now, I've never been emotionally married to "Stetho #2" for a title. Still, that's how I've referred to it for the last couple years. Now that it's about to be published? The title has changed. It will be, "I'm Here: Compassionate Communication In Patient Care."
It's just one of those things; I've had to learn that the way it was planned tain't going to happen. So, we change. We adapt. And hopefully, that also means growth.
Now, throw in another situation:
This Friday, we'll be flying to Missouri. It's time to see family, but the most important things on the schedule are my grandmother's 90th birthday party, and a keynote lecture for the Team Spirit reunion in Jefferson City.
Then this morning? The phone rang. It's my lawyer. In late 2005, I was denied access to a taxi in St. Louis due to Carson's presence. While I hate the idea of suing anyone, I'm not willing to allow my civil rights to be trampled upon. It's taken the better part of tive years, but it's finally time to sit down with the lawyers, give the depositions, listen to the other depositions and, if necessary, go to court. While I'm ready and willing to do whatever has to be done, it throws that monkey wrench back in our travel plans.
Also just got a call from my mother in law. My wife's 94 year old grandmother will, in all likelihood, pass away within the next week. She's ready to go and I think everyone will be happy, for her sake, when she finally gets some relief. There is a strong possibility that her passing will also cause us to alter our travel schedule.
Right now is such a perfect opportunity for me to work on being Zen. Whatever will be, will be. And even to recognize this is a decent step for a control freak like me.
Sunday, February 14, 2010
Chances are, unless you're in a relationship, Valentine's Day pretty much blows for you. Looking over the Facebook statuses of my friends the last several days, there seems to be as much hatred as love going around!
And really, this makes sense. I think it's human nature to want to be in relation with others. I also think it's human nature to want to be in a close, intimate relationship with one other person. That doesn't mean monogamy because, we all know, there are plenty of folks who can't seem to only sleep with their spouse. But I DO think most folks have a desire to be bonded with another human being. And thus, we have Valentine's Day. A day filled with references to love, relationships, intimacy, etc.
Let's think about people who do NOT have a special someone to fill that intimacy need. First thought is about single people. These are the people most likely to be disgruntled about having all the lovey dovey stuff shoved down their throat. But, I couldn't help think of a few other factions of folks:
What does Valentine's Day mean to you if your partner is deceased?
What does it mean if your loved one is dying?
What about if that person is serving in the military overseas? Incarcerated? Out of town on business? Divorced from you? Separated?
There are so, so many people who Valentine's is a painful holiday. Today, while you're (hopefully) spending time with your special someone, give a few thoughts (and maybe a call or a card) to those who you know who may not have a special someone with them...
Friday, February 12, 2010
Flipping around on the History Channel, I came across an interview with an expert at the Smithsonian...and learned some stuff.
First off, the Smithsonian rep discussed how agonizing it is to hear parents and grandparents telling their children things that aren't historically fact. For example, the original Star Spangled Banner...
If you're walking through the Smithsonian and see a ginormous flag, your brain might jump to all the things you know about the flag. It was sewn by Betsy Ross, her flag flew over Fort McHenry and was spotted by Francis Scott Key when he penned the poem, yada yada yada.
But, you'd be wrong. In all actuality, Betsy Ross had absolutely nothing to do with the creation of our American flag. True, she was a seamstress in Boston. True, she knew George Washington. But past that? Nada.
Once our American flag was born, Betsy Ross' son (who would get a great job in PR these days) went around telling everyone how his mother sewed Old Glory. But, he was simply a big, fat liar. And yet? How many of us were taught this in school? MMy hand is raised!
Several weeks ago, I was having dinner with a friend and we were discussing someone we both know loosely, but neither of us would consider a friend. MY friend said something I didn't believe...an outlandish claim made by our acquaintance. I called B.S. on that and asked my friend if she believed it. Her response?
"Well, I guess I've heard him say it enough times that I don't think he can be lying."
Really? So, if someone says something repeatedly, it gains more credibility?
Sadly, that's true. It was back in the late 1700s when Betsy's son was spreading HIS B.S....and it happens today.
Maybe the older I get, the more skeptical I get. And maybe that's not a bad thing. But hearing things, both like this episode on History AND the convo with my friend, make me question much of what I believe.
Thursday, February 11, 2010
Feb 8 found me speaking for several different factions of Buena Vista University in Storm Lake, Iowa. This was my first trip to Storm Lake and, well, it lived up to the name! For a Floridian boy now, being knee deep in snow drifts and negative temps was quite the eye opener! (pardon the pun)
The only thing more fun than being hunkered down in a warm suite, cuddled up under a blanket watching the Superbowl with Marvelyne was the programs themselves. A HUGE thanks goes to the human relations class, the Buena Vista student athletes and coaches, the nursing and pre-med majors and reps from the local hospital for the patient care program. Plus, the nearly 20% of campus that showed up for the evening keynote...Wow! You guys rock!
Extra special thanks goes to Donna and Tom Musel for being such incredible hosts! Had so much fun with you guys...smiley fries and one of the best ruben sammiches ever! Look forward to a journey back to Storm Lake sometime in the future!
On Feb. 4, Idaho State University hosted yours truly to campus for keynotes. Thanks to the fraternities and sororities at ISU for being such an awesome audience for the afternoon keynote, and thanks to the general student population of ISU for coming out that evening!
Special thanks to Aaron McCabe, Val, Sammie and Tanya for being such awesome hosts! Also thanks to the ISU chapter of Kappa Sigma for welcoming in a brother into their midst! Thanks, gentlemen! AEKDB
Wednesday, February 03, 2010
Today, a grown man (in his 30s) with a couple kids had this listed as his favorite books: "Life is too short to read."
Really? I understand when people put LMAO for books. They're not readers. No biggie. No rule saying you have to be. But thinking that life is too short to read?
If life is too short (which it really is), shouldn't we all embrace things like:
Life is too short to hate
Life is too short to hold grudges
Life is too short to be petty
For yours truly, life without books isn't really worth living. I so enjoy reading that it's just crazy to think of a world where I couldn't go get lost in a novel. I've learned so, so much from the lives of others through a book's interpretation. It just baffles my mind...how can life be too short to read?
One of my most recent podcasts was an interview with a prominent Missouri lawmaker who was recently indicted on charges of campaign corruption. I don't know this guy, I know his crime concerned nothing to do with defrauding the citizens, but he lied to an investigative team of FBI agents and THAT's a big part of the reason he'll probably be wearing silver bracelets.
When the interviewer candidly asked the former lawmaker about his image, his work and how he'll be remembered, the lawmaker made an interesting point. In a nutshell, he said he hopes he'll be remembered for the years of good service he gave to his fellow citizens, and not for a momentary lapse of judgement which cost him his job AND his freedom.
Good point. I think we all have the potential to make a really dumb choice and have it be our legacy. Lord knows I'm a walking example of another person's bad choice, just a few moments of wrong decisions and-BAM! Your identity is sealed. Yet...is that really fair? Maybe not, but it's reality.
Now, let's talk about something else. Anyone who knows me is aware of my deep seeded revulsion to money snatching religious "authorities." It disgusts me to no end to hear about clergy who manipulate parishoners out of money based on greed. Frankly, I don't have much fondness for any intersection of money and God. But, I digress...
Knowing my distaste for church and money issues, you could probably guess I'd be up in arms over Pat Robertson's remarks on Haiti. Ya know, the idea that 200 years ago, the Haitians made a deal with Satan and that's why the earthquake happened. Truly, you can't get much more absurd than that.
And Pat Robertson has a bit of a history of saying wacky things, so this may not totally apply...but, just for a second, let's give ol' Pat the benefit of the doubt. Let's say he misspoke and, if he could, he'd go back and retract that comment...or even clarify it in such a way that it's not so off the wall. Would we, the public, have any grace for Pat? It's hard to think we would. Yet, like the lawmaker who made a quick decision that cost him his career, Pat Robertson's words maybe...just maybe...might have not been what he meant. And he's dealing with the fallout.
I don't buy into tele- evangelists, but a whole, WHOLE lotta people do. And if Pat Robertson's 700 Club has given those folks hope and prayer and comfort, it's unfortunate his comments on Haiti overshadow those good works.
It ain't my thing, but I'm trying to be a little more accepting of the mistakes of others. If nothing else, I want to be able to, at least, have a little perspective.
Monday, February 01, 2010
This all comes as a result of the situation I was in back at Thanksgiving 1994. I was a 19 year old kid, living in Denver, CO, 800 miles from home and stuck in a rehab school I loathed. John, whom I'd known since we were 14, was living in Boulder, just half an hour up the road. When the rehab school would get unbearable, John would swing down to Denver, pick me up for a weekend of non-rehab debochery. I treasured those times so, SO much; just having a friend-an old friend, so nearby who was such a support gave me a lot of peace of mind at that time.
And Thanksgiving? This was the first major holiday in my 19 years NOT spent with my family. Yet, John, his girlfriend, roommate, myself and a couple other stragglers ended up at John's apartment for the Turkey Day feast. To be in such a fun environment, without family when we all needed to feel some sense of family, still ranks as one of my favorite holidays...ever.
Now, a decade and a half later, John is living in Minnesota and involved in his area Chamber of Commerce. When he asked if I'd be willing to deliver a speech to his Chamber...it's a no brainer.
So, thanks to the Chamber, but also thanks to John for believing that messed up kid in 1994 could have something valueable to say to local business owners in 2010. Thanks, everyone!