Beautiful day at the Hospice. More on the sheer beauty that is Palliative Medicine another time. But it is truly wonderful. And an adjustment after playing another role at this particular Hospice for years… More on that another time, as well.
Currently, one of our patients is a very musical individual. He brought with him to the house his two guitars and piano and is forever wanting to write music and play and find people to jam with. Today, he was having a rough morning and I was asked to go assess him. My first visit of the morning. After discussing pain and appetite and his recent hallucinations, we started talking music. He instantly settled from being agitated and somewhat paranoid to a very interesting and calm individual (not that he isn’t interesting when paranoid, but more easy to communicate with at a minimum). He played in a few bands through the 70s, 80s and early 90s. He has written some of his own music. Thankfully, I love music and know enough to chat about various bands, genres and the subtleties of music writing.
Then, of course, he was itching to play. He got out his guitar, turned on the keyboard and asked if I could play. I can’t, really. I can pluck things out with one hand or two very, very slowly. So, he decided to teach me a song. It took a bit for him to communicate/me to process the rhythms and notes. But we got there… By the end we were playing a broken version of the song (I recognized the tune, but can’t recall the name for the life of me). The nursing staff thought it all quite hilarious, as he is always wanting someone to jam with. Plus, they thought I might have been eaten or killed because I was gone so long. They heard music and no screams, so figured I must be okay. I unfortunately had to leave after learning this piece to see the other 8 patients awaiting my visit.
For the rest of the day, he kept checking on my status, to see if I might be available to jam again. Unfortunately, whenever I was available, he was not and vice versa. Hopefully, we can “jam” some more tomorrow, time permitting.
It is amazing the power that music can have. How therapeutic it can be for someone who is so ill, in so much pain and who is dealing with psychiatric illness on top of everything. I feel very lucky that I get to participate in care in this way. It is an opportunity we don’t always get in hospital or community.
One musical and kind of jamming related notes, here is my med school choi), “Ultrasound” (great name for a med school choir, no?_rocking out to “Dem Bones” at Monte Carlo, our annual charity gala fundraiser.