And She Sang…
-by Mickey Ryan, CRNP
Almost 100 years old and as frail as a whisper, she came to the inpatient unit for relief of pain, caused by skin breakdown the likes of which none of us had ever seen.
Her hip bone could be visualized without the benefit of X-Rays. She just didn’t have any tissue covering it any more. And that was only one of her wounds. She had end-stage dementia and had not wanted to eat or leave her bed. Her son, who was her caregiver and knew how to cajole her into doing things she would have rather not done, was having surgery. So he left her in the care of his daughter, who despite her best efforts could not convince the patient to eat or get up. She thought she was doing the right thing by respecting her grandmother’s wishes, not understanding the potential consequences.
The skin breakdown happened so fast, the poor family could not believe it. Admission to the hospital ensued, then hospice. None of this mattered to the patient. She blamed no one, had no anger. She gave thanks to God, over and over again, and to her nurses, even as the wound specialist changed her dressings. She grimaced and moaned with pain, then smiled and asked us if we were alright, if we had eaten!
And she sang. Lying there, like a little helpless bird, she sang, and we joined in. And this made us all feel better. She passed a few days later.
We talk about her with smiles and tears, and are amazed that such a tremendous spirit could have been contained in such a tiny, emaciated, broken-down body. I wonder if she knows what an impression she left with us.