Monday, August 13, 2018

Hiding Pain from Others (Research, Hospice Poem)

Pain can be tricky when it comes to sharing the experience with others. Research on pain indicates various reasons patients are reluctant to share their feelings. Some patients will want to just be brave and handle it on their own. Others just don’t want to bother caregivers, or they think they wouldn’t understand even if they told them. Some patients can even be in denial about their own pain. But, during clinical encounters, patients may put themselves at greater risk for pain-related crises, use of hospice/palliative care on-call services, and in-patient transfers by not truthfully explaining their pain experience to those who can help.

Social workers and other palliative care providers should consistently and vigilantly inquire about how comfortable patients are about discussing their own pain. While pain management is a major focus of hospice care, I have witnessed and reported patients in pain during my hospice volunteer service. I visited Jim weekly during his final stages of painful cancer. An African American in his nineties, he yearned for peace. One day to help relieve his pain, I made a joyous breakthrough. When his pain came and his eyes were closed while I held his hand, he asked me if I were his wife. In my efforts to comfort him, I pretended to be his deceased wife whose name was Anne. I wrote this poem later about our being carefree and in love in old Detroit.

By Frances Shani Parker

His weary, tucked-in body
lies in a nursing home bed.
A black Gandhi, he yearns for peace.
His days are chains of mountains
formed by pressures of frustration.

I approach him like a helpless child,
wonder how to lift his spirits.
Eyes that have seen ninety years
squint tightly as daggers of pain
pierce his cancerous form.

Intermittent moans of distress
announce his internal battlefield.
A volunteer, I visit him weekly,
try to arm him with weapons
to increase his victories.

Talk, sing or hold his hand?
Never sure, I try them all.
Words inside he wants to say
are muttered sounds
I seldom understand.

His smile engulfs the room
when I speak of old Detroit.
Perhaps images from the past
recapture stolen pieces
of pleasure from his youth.

I tell him I must leave,
promise to return. Surprising me
in his clearest voice,
he struggles to respond,
“I appreciate your coming.”
Frances Shani Parker, Author
Becoming Dead Right: A Hospice Volunteer in Urban Nursing Homes is available in paperback and e-book editions in America and other countries at online and offline booksellers.
Hospice and Nursing Homes Blog

No comments:

Post a Comment