Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Lots to do.

Over the years, many persons, on learning that I am a hospice physician, develop a pained expression and ask, “How can you do that kind of work? Isn’t it awfully depressing?” This always prompts me to smile, which may be inappropriate for such a serious question, yet I have never found hospice work depressing. On the contrary, I feel that there is so much that can be done to help people coping with a serious condition that the rewards to all concerned…patient, family and caregivers…can produce a great deal of relief and even satisfaction. I know that other hospice workers: nurses, social workers, chaplains, therapists of various sorts and especially volunteers feel the same as I do. To watch pain be replaced by comfort, anxiety by relaxation, insomnia by sleep, anger and fear by equanimity…these are the rewards hospice workers experience. Certainly we all grieve the deaths of patients we have come to know and love. We grieve with the family and friends who have given so much to their loved one. Yet our sense of loss is tempered by the positive satisfaction derived from knowing that we made a difference. We helped to make things better for the patient and the family.

William M. Lamers Jr., M.D.

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