Thursday, March 09, 2017

Obvious Slacker

At the morning meeting on Monday, one of our supervisors announced that only two people had passed the palliative care test and would be offered interviews: Monica and myself. Since there are two slots and two candidates, this seems promising. (The interview is later today. I am on call, so I get to go in late, just in time for the interview.) Another person who had taken the test was in the room, so both Monica and I received the news in a low-key manner, to avoid rubbing salt in his wounds.

After the meeting, one of my peers said, “I can’t tell if you’re happy about this news or not.” I told her that of course I’m not like, “Spending all day every day with people with life-limiting illnesses! That sounds great!” But I did really enjoy being a hospice volunteer. Also, the palliative care chaplain, Delia, has given us several presentations on palliative care, and more than once, she has smiled a mysterious half-smile and said, “It’s really great to work in palliative care.” I would like to find out why.

Also, several weeks ago, I was visiting a palliative care patient just 29 years old (on the weekend, when Delia and our per diem palliative care chaplain are not around) and realized I had no idea what to say to him. I felt completely confounded as to how to proceed, and then it suddenly came to me: this is my work.

Shortly after the Monday morning meeting, I saw an email from the manager of the spiritual care department saying that I and the chaplain who took over when my shift ended both had done a great job at the other campus the day before and that one of the directors of that hospital had mentioned both of us by name. Our own debriefing session was scheduled for Tuesday morning, and Jodie suggested it would be good for me to attend for my own sake and she also thought it would be educational. She said it would be something I could take forward into my chaplaincy.

I said I would like to do that, but I had also been invited to give a campus tour on Tuesday morning to our new intern and new supervisor in training, and I was really looking forward to doing that. Jodie said they would push the tour back so that I could do both! Gifts seemed to be raining down on me from all directions.

I see Delia (of course not her real name) now and then in the hospital, but not very often, being as my units are ortho/spine—few end-of-life situations. My colleagues who are assigned to ICUs see much more of her. I greet her with a sunny smile whenever I encounter her, but had no idea if she knew who I was. That very day, I entered an elevator to find her there and said hello, and she smiled at me and said something that made it clear she does know who I am.

On Tuesday morning, I reported to the other campus to go to the debriefing session, which was attended by even more people: 40 in the room, and nearly 10 on the phone. It was interesting to see how Sarah, the manager of spiritual care, facilitated the meeting. I took the hospital shuttle back to my own campus afterward and led the aforementioned tour. The new supervisor in training is a very sweet fellow, and I also really like our new peer, Jake, who radiates joy and enthusiasm. Several of us had lunch with our two new people in the cafeteria.

That afternoon, I visited a guy who tried various arguments to get me to go buy him a bottle of scotch, including mentioning a chaplain he knew when he was in the marines who kept a bottle for his own enjoyment and that of his visitors. “Now, that was a good chaplain,” said the patient. When I finally said point blank that I was not going to do this, he said witheringly, “Yeah—I could tell from the moment you walked in that you’re the kind of person who does just the minimum.”
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