the original kStyle blog.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

In the Alzheimer's Ward

I've at last begun volunteer shiatsu work in hospice. I currently visit patients at two local facilities. For background, let me explain that there are not hospice facilities where people go to die. When a doctor estimates that someone has less than 6 months to live, s/he can be placed on hospice at the discretion of the primary caregiver. This means that no heroic gestures will be made to save the person's life. Often, the patient is given pain medication. A hospice organization may be hired to send their nurses, volunteers, chaplains, and so forth to give care at the patient's bedside. This bedside might be located in a swanky assisted living facility, a nursing home, or the patient's home.

On Friday I visited a well-appointed assisted living facility to see a 96 y.o. woman, who was sharp as a tack despite some short-term memory loss. She carried on a great conversation and lit up the room with her smile. After visiting for a few minutes, I explained what shiatsu was and asked if she'd like to try it. "No," she replied, "Not today." Her aide explained that this patient sometimes needs encouragement to try new things. We encouraged her. We demonstrated shiatsu on the aide, who oohed and aahed over how good it felt. Then we asked again, "Would you like to try shiatsu?"

"No, not today."

Today I visited a different patient in an Alzheimer's unit at a local hospital. She was very receptive to shiatsu and became very relaxed with treatment. This was fantastic, but the best part was the other patients in the unit. Her roommate, beaming a loopy grin, presented me with the cap from her lotion bottle as a gift. As I filled in the volunteer log in the hall, another patient stood beside me singing something like deranged Broadway tunes without lyrics, putting on a grand show. From time to time, she'd tap my elbow and exclaim, "Look!," pointing at nothing.

I freaking love this work.

Thursday, August 09, 2007


Busy busy weekend, then going away for a week. Meditation retreat with Thich Nhat Hanh.

While I'm away, remember to breathe and smile, and I will be breathing and smiling with you.

A flower for you, the Buddha to be--

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

The Patience Layer

It's August, truly August, hot and sticky. The heat erodes that fine, fluid layer of patience that lubricates and cushions little day-to-day interactions; the heat has created an ozone hole in our tolerance. And when the heat of temper flares through the patience holes, that temper-heat creates an even greater gap, and the nasty cycle continues until cooler days drop the bottom out from our nastiness and restore our minds.

Everyone looks tired.