(Continuation of How I Became A Writer)
The hospice unit was allotted 16 beds of the 32 bed unit. The other 16 got designated to another new program called Geriatric Assessment.
Geriatric Assessment was born out of the idea that if elderly patients were completely assessed, head to toe, and intensively rehabbed, they would live longer and have a better quality of life.
A young, very assertive doctor was appointed to head up the program. She hit the floor running and had the rest of us running.
Dr. Dozier did not run. He did not think she needed to run either. She assessed him as geriatric in need of rehab. Their exchanges were full of sparks. Though neither would ever admit it, I think they actually learned something from each other.
So on one end of the hall, we had patients trying to die in peace and on the other end of the hall, we had patients working hard not to die.
This was set down in the midst of a unit still being constructed, so to speak. New furniture and other supplies were still on order. The public patient restroom did not have a door. Engineering assured me they would install a temporary door. They did, sort of. I was shocked to find it was a shower curtain .😱
All that kept me going was crisis intervention calls to Sue and the firm belief that as chaotic as things were, we were making a difference.
The staff began to work as a team. We learned the quirks of each physician and each part of life began to blossom together.
I sat down in the quiet one evening and wrote an article about an old man at an inn. It was a hospice. I submitted it to The International Journal of Hospice Care. It was published!
In the years that followed, I wrote several more articles that were published. Each time I was amazed.
As people responded, I got the same warm feeling I had when I saw the play I wrote performed. Something that came from my heart through my pen touched the hearts of other people, many of whom I would never meet.
Writers send out words like arrows, never knowing where they will land. It is a journey of faith that somewhere out there, someone will receive and be blessed.
I spent twenty years as Nurse Manager of the hospice unit before I finished my hospital career back in acute care.
Dr. Dozier and I became good friends. We met in his office for our planning meetings. He told me I could use his bathroom.
He traveled to England and met with Dame Cicely Saunders, who was known for her pioneering work with hospice. He came back ready to try new ideas.
Dr. Dozier and I walked many patients to the door of the next life. We often stood together at the bedside, after he officially called the time of death. We knew it was a holy moment. It was an honor to have cared for each person.
The geriatric assessment unit eventually closed. The young doctor ran on to places unknown. Hopefully she took the lesson that while it is good to live each day to the fullest, there is also a time to let go and just receive comfort and love from those around them.
My nursing career continued after I retired from hospital nursing. I became a nursing instructor. I spent the next eight years team teaching with Jay.
We discovered a creative way to teach was through acting out skits. I became the script writer! Additionally I wrote articles specifically for each class.
As I watched them graduate from our class, holding the words on the papers I had given them, I knew my writings were on their way to other places I would never know.
Then came retirement again. But writers never really retire. God had more in store, including the fulfillment of a super big dream. Jay and I wrote books together!
Stay tuned for the next leg of the journey of writing.
Post Script. Dr. Dozier died on Christmas Eve, 2008. He had reflected a great deal on his remarkable life.
He told me what he was happiest about was the love of his family and having been able to start one of the first in patient hospices in the state of Kentucky.
He wrote an autobiography and had it printed on archival paper. He printed just enough for his family and me. I treasure it. Every memory of him makes me smile.
It seems particularly appropriate that the first book Jay and I wrote was a Christmas book, since Dr. Dozier entered heaven on Christmas Eve!