Today I found myself pondering my mothering skills, wondering if I've been doing my job okay and vowing to do better. I've had different examples to follow.
My mother-in-law is as patient as they come and has raised some great kids who are doing their best to raise good kids. My mother, who was an alcoholic all her life, did her best for us when she was sober, which was not often. Despite her weaknesses, I learned from her the art of survival, which got me through some tough times in life, including my suffering the consequences that came from past poor choices.
My grandmother was one of the sweetest women in the world and was a major influence on me. She suffered many trials, but she stayed strong and held onto her integrity until until she passed away in 2007. I've really missed her, even more so today, and I was grateful for the time I was able to spend with her during her last weeks before she succumbed to ovarian cancer. She was incoherent a great deal of that time, but when she was coherent, she communicated well for the most part and we had some wonderful conversations. Other than taking bathroom breaks and jaunting to the kitchen to grab a plate of food, I never let her side for the time I was there, even when she was sleeping, because I knew she knew I was there. For me, that was the most important thing.
Yes, I miss my grandmother, and I'm sure I always will, but how grateful I am for the opportunity I had to just be there, to let her know she wasn't alone. She was sick, but she still had feelings, even when she didn't, or couldn't voice them.
Which brings me to a neat little booklet I read last week. Communication for the Cognizant, Nonverbal Patient was written by Jean Alleman, Trudy Brown, and Susan Robison, and is an excellent resource for anyone caring for a sick patient who may not be able to express their needs.
About the Booklet
If you're a patient whose mind knows what to say but whose mouth is unable to convey those thoughts, you've probably become very frustrated with finding a way to get your needs met. If you're the caregiver watching or trying to help the patient, you've likely become frustrated as well. Communication is about to become easier. With the help of this book, patients will finally be able to express their needs without speaking.
Simple sentences such as 'I am thirsty. May I have some water?' and so forth allow patients to point out the thought they need to share so caregivers know just how to help. With colorful illustrations and an easy format, Communication for the Cognizant, Nonverbal Patient is the book that will give a voice to patients.