It seems impossible that another year is wrapping up in just a few weeks. The sun’s light is waning as we approach the winter solstice and here in Flagstaff temperatures are dropping and overdue snow is on the horizon. Festive holiday lights, wreaths, and Christmas trees are making an appearance in my neighborhood. It is a beautiful time of the year and despite the long darkness and shorter days, we can see plenty of sparkle and joy if we look around for it.
For our little family, December kicked off with a serious health issue for our beloved three-year-old canine, Olivia. She was a happy playful pup last Tuesday morning, but by evening she was extremely ill. Her diagnosis was hemorrhagic gastroenteritis (HGE). As you can guess from the sound of it, this illness includes gastric tract bleeding. Symptoms come on very suddenly and the associated dehydration can be fatal. I had never heard of this idiopathic (cause unknown) illness for dogs, and I am very grateful for the education provided by her veterinary team. She is such a shy girl that we wanted to avoid hospitalization, so with vet approval, we attempted supportive homecare.
Despite the idea that we are the world’s best dog parents, Olivia did indeed need hospitalization. She is now home recovering; meds will continue for several more days. HGE can happen to any dog, at any age. This is a serious diagnosis, and we are so grateful that she survived. There is a small (10%) chance it can reoccur. Some evidence of it being regional or seasonal is discussed in this article. If you have a dog, please do some research about how to recognize the signs and treat it. We are so grateful to have our girl back home and Teddy is too.
Now for the News:
- Visit the Further Shore blog for the latest post, “L” is for Listening!
- December Program: The Further Shore community kicked off the holiday season with a virtual gratitude and grace meeting for a dozen folks across the USA. What a blessing to hear stories about loved ones who have passed, the legacies they left, and the wisdom they have passed along to us. To further honor the season, we will host a virtual Candle Lighting and Phowa Practice in remembrance of those who have passed on. RSVP to receive the Zoom invitation. Friday, December 17th from 4:30 – 5:30 p.m. Mountain Time. All welcome. Freely offered; donations to Further Shore gratefully received.
- Death Care Program: Former Further Shore volunteer and community death care advocate Mara June Pfeffer is offering Reclaiming Death Care: A Community End of Life Planning Course. This 7 part course runs Thursdays, 5:30-7:00pm PST, Jan 13-Feb 24, and is for anyone, at any stage of life, seeking to envision and create their end of life plans in community. Register and find more information here. Contact them on instagram @marajune_ or by email at email@example.com
- Give a Nurse a Hug! At the beginning of the pandemic, people were lining up to cheer, blink car lights, and honk their horns for nurses on shift change at hospitals the world over. Now, many frontline workers are depressed, exhausted, and struggling to carry on. They have been harassed, ignored, bullied, and at times mocked in the very settings where they are trying to save lives. Nationwide, hospitals are begging for nurses to come out of retirement to care for the rising numbers of covid and other patients needing medical care. The World Health Organization estimates that upward of 115,000 healthcare workers have died from COVID-19. So, if you know a doctor, nurse, EMT, nursing assistant, or other frontline worker please thank them for their continued service; maybe offer a home cooked meal, flowers, gift card for massage, or just a warm hug and some words of thanks. Remember that your kindness might be the one moment of the day (week, month) that brings your friend comfort and a smile. If appropriate, remind them that the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) offers several resources for frontline workers. Do your part by staying healthy during this holiday season.
- Movies that Move Us – Remember the movie, Rent? Such a powerful musical about the time we have in life. How do you measure a year in a life? 525,600 Minutes! Andrew Garfield stars in the new Netflix movie, “Tick Tick, Boom” (a tribute to Jonathan Larson the creator of Rent). Here is a stunning 7-minute YouTube discussion between Garfield and Stephen Colbert. During the discussion they celebrate art, life, and loss. At about minute 4:20 the conversation turns to personal grief. Andrew’s perspective offers a deeply moving, yet simple, truth.
- Hospice Tips – If your loved one is a hospice patient and you want to visit, here are some considerations for you.
- Call the hospice facility or patient’s home to ask caregivers about a convenient time to visit; be on time if a time is given.
- Don’t wear perfume or aftershave as sometimes hospice patients are sensitive to strong scents (triggering nausea or other uncomfortable symptoms).
- Be aware that hospice patients may be very alert and talkative, quiet, or sleeping, in an altered state of awareness, or in a coma. You can be present to your loved one in any of these circumstances. Sometimes the most powerful feeling of connection and caring for one another comes in the quiet times.
- Greet the patient as you always do and let them take the lead in conversation. If the patient talks about other worldly scenes or people who are not present (or deceased) as if they are present, don’t try to convince them otherwise. Just go with the flow of the conversation. Ask, “can you tell me more about that?” or “I have not seen mom in a long time, how is she doing?”
- You may want to bring gifts of food, flowers, or personal items (cozy blanket, robe, slippers, art to cheer the room, etc.). It is always best to ask caregivers before bringing things as the patient may or may not be eating. If they are in a hospice facility, the space for extra artwork or other items may be limited. You may experience shared memories, laughter, tears, or silence; your presence is truly the gift.
- Quote of the Month ~ Kindness is like snow; it beautifies everything it covers. ~ Kahlil Gibran
I am wishing everyone a beautiful, peaceful, and healthy holiday season. May all beings be safe, well, happy, and content. Happy New Year to all!