A Visit

16 Oct

It is visiting day and Abby comes to sit at my feet.  She sticks her head out, eager to wear the ‘Pets and Friends’ bandana and get started.  We hop in the car and head to the hospice.  Normally on leash she walks beside or slightly behind me, but as we leave the car and head along the sidewalk she is out front leading the way.

We enter the building and head to reception.  Abby wriggles a greeting to the receptionist who voices an enthusiastic hello and rubs Abby’s ears.  We chat briefly and then stop in to see the volunteer coordinator who gives Abby a rub and chatty hello.  As we head out into the hall, the chaplain meets us.  Two residents have died in the night and he has been dealing with the families, one of which has taken the death particularly hard.  The chaplain kneels down to pat Abby and I tell her to stay while I duck into the lunch room to grab my name tag from a drawer.  When I return, Abby’s tail is sweeping broadly and she is ‘smiling’ at the chaplain and he is smiling in return.  He stands and enters his office as we head down the hall.  We stop in to touch bases with the Director of Care who is just hanging up the phone.  It is a busy day what with the two deaths and consequently the two open beds to fill.  She leaves her chair to greet Abby and enjoys a very brief hiatus in her day.  She tells me which of the residents have died.  One had always been eager to have Abby visit and I will miss our time together.

We head down to the nursing station and say a brief hello.  They are settling back into the routine of the day after losing two of their patients.  I pull out the ‘volunteer book’ in which we volunteers record the details of our visits.  The notes give the volunteers a running non-medical history of each of the residents – preferred topics of conversation, who is eager for visits, who is not and who is fading.  I chat with the nurses to decide who may be up for a visit and then together Abby and I move down the hall.

I give a little rap on the door and stick my head in.  B is sitting quietly atop the bedclothes on her bed.  She is wearing sweat pants, a tee shirt and a lovely hand knit sweater.  She is seventy-two and has fought a long losing battle with cancer.  She sees Abby and her face lights up.  Abby wriggles her greeting and I lift her up onto the bed.  They give each other full attention and then after a couple of minutes Abby lays down with her head on B’s lap.   As B and I chat, her right hand fondles Abby’s ears continuously.  A few minutes later, some of B’s friends arrive and we all chat about ‘dogs’ for a while.  Abby and I leave B with her friends and duck into the next room.

D is almost gone.  We have been visiting him for over a month now and at the beginning he delighted in having visitors.  His wife and son have gone to catch a quick late lunch and will be returning shortly.  He smiles weakly as we enter and Abby quickly settles onto the bed.  He is heavily medicated for pain and abruptly drifts off to sleep.  Abby joins him in sleep and she begins to snore.  We went for a long walk this morning and she has some catching up to do.  A few minutes pass and D awakens picking up mid-sentence where he left off our conversation.  He strokes Abby’s back and I talk about a fishing trip I recently went on with my cousin.  D was a fisherman here on the west coast and he enjoys tales of the sea.  Five minutes later he has drifted off again.  This cycle of wakefulness and sleep continues until his family return.  They are relieved to find us at his bedside and find comfort in knowing that he has not been alone.

As we walk down the hall, a young Asian woman steps out from her mother’s room.  “The nurses told me you were here.  My name is W and I was hoping you two could stop in and see my mum.  We have a dog at home and she misses her tremendously.  My mum doesn’t speak English though.”  We enter the woman’s room and when she sees me her face shows a flash of concern.  As her daughter explains our presence, her mother catches sight of Abby and a lovely smile spreads across her face.  Up on the bed, Abby soaks up the attention both women lavish upon her.  They are chatting now in Cantonese spattering the conversation with laughter.  Abby then sits up on her haunches like a Meerkat.  “That means scratch my tummy please.”  They oblige and giggle as Abby’s eyes slide shut in contentment.  “Does she do any tricks?” asks the daughter.  I nod and lift Abby to the floor.  “Point your finger at her and say BANG!”  W raises her arm and shoots Abby who immediately drops like a stone onto her back.  More laughter.  A nurse comes in, curious about all the joyful noise.  Abby flips back onto her feet, expectant for a treat.  I pull one from my pocket and give it to W who offers it to Abby.  More chatting ensues till the nurse hears a bell chime from another room.

After a few more short visits, we stop back at the nurse’s station and fill in our record of visits, then we offer our goodbyes to the staff and head home.  It has been a good afternoon.

Please feel free to comment below!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: