Obit and Tribute for one of the most remarkable men I've ever known. I was privileged to call him family.
No Friday Finish this week... I have some quilts done but I got called out of town suddenly and ran out of content that I had photographed already. I'm back in Texas now but haven't made it home so this post is going to be a mix of some old favorite quilts that are hopefully new to most of you and some thoughts I had over the past couple weeks. Click on the quilts to see more photos.
Death in the modern hospital is a bizarre event. We've become totally disconnected from the natural way of living, growing old or ill, and dying at home. Although most people have never experienced that, they at least have some frame of reference for how it might
looks. On the other hand, hospital death with all the machines and the waiting and the false impression that we can control when and how we go, is completely foreign. For families to navigate this system and learn enough to make choices they are comfortable within the short period of time right before death is like trying to master quantum mechanics in just a couple days.
I was fortunate enough to be able to be with my family 24 hours a day as they processed understanding what was going on and what decisions needed to be made. But it's hard work! Processing that the end of life has come, and this is what it looks like, doesn't happen in one conversation. By its nature shocking information needs to be heard again and again, it needs time to sink in. It's big conversations and little conversations. It's answering random questions as they come up. It's talking sometimes in a big group and sometimes one on one and sometimes two or three.
I was able to talk to them at any time, day or night, for two days, and I wasn't the only one with a medical background who could help explain things, and I still felt like we barely
had enough time to get everyone kind of understanding and accepting before we ran out of time.
|Nursery wall hanging|
This is the field I'm going in to, and the last couple weeks have done nothing but reaffirm that this is what I want to do. But no matter how good of a clinician I am I can never be available 24 hours a day. With my patients I won't have the advantage of years of relationship and trust already built. Really good, holistic, palliative care for the last two days or week of life is too little, too late for families.
|Quilt-As-You-Go Sampler Tutorial|
The new normal in American medicine is to fling families off the deep end into a strange world of breathing machines and artificial nutrition and, "The most compassionate thing to do would be to turn off life-support." Since when has that been a normal decision to expect someone to make? Families don't understand anything and doctors don't understand why the family doesn't "get it". The quick fly-by conversations at the patient's bedside serve to further confuse, as much as anything. They may as well be speaking different languages.
|Drunken Circles, do. Good Stitches|
I've known of course that the whole chronic-disease, end-of-life system needs serious a overhaul. I see it every time I work. But living through it with one family, following them from beginning to end and being there in all the in-between moments, in the hospital and out, has given me a new perspective on just how grand this problem is in scope.
|Scrappy Country Home|
This is just another reason I'm so grateful that Covered in Love has been able to reach so many people. A quilt really is a small thing when you're in these situations, but at least it's something. At least it's some small comfort for the people who are in those hospital rooms right now, something to say, "I'm sorry! I know it sucks; I'm trying to fix it but it's taking a while. You are loved; you are cared for; someone recognizes your suffering."
|Fibonacci, do. Good Stitches|
Do me a favor if you're reading this and start to educate yourself about end-of-life and death issues. We all think it's too soon and it won't happen to us, but we all get there eventually. Remember, it's always too soon until it's too late. The most important thing you can do it talk to you family and make sure they know your wishes. I'll link some of my favorite resources below.
If you'd like to join in with Covered in Love
's mission you can learn more on the main page or check out the block drive
The current Covered in Love block drive is a fun string block and there's a GIVEAWAY going on, too! More info here
Linking to Confessions of a Fabric Addict
, Crazy Mom Quilts
and Finished or Not Friday