Don’t Deny the Visit

(This is the weekly focus on Health: The Whole Person. I take whatever part or parts of the whole person that I choose to focus on, including fitness, diet, social relations, the medical professions, etc.)

Yesterday in Sunday School at Avondale United Methodist Church my class went through a “Caring Conversations: Making Your Healthcare Wishes Known” booklet. It was a very appropriate topic of discussion, and I will only briefly comment on it today as a jumping off point for several other health-related items that I want to discuss all-too-briefly today.

After the class discussion I found myself last night carried back to my 12-year-old self. The first of my grandparents was facing the end-of-life stage and I was asking to see my maternal grandmother. She was in the end stages of severe colon cancer which had come upon us all suddenly. Despite being the part of the family that always did all the right health things, got all the annual checkups and exams, they had not caught her cancer until it was too late, and she passed all too suddenly from us. I never did get to see her that last time. They had waited to let me see her until they thought she would have a better moment that she never did get, and she was gone.

I also found myself flashed to a moment in my recent past. For the past decade I have been attending AUMC, and for most of it I have been one of two key Basses in the AUMC choir. Though A tenor by natural part, I have assisted the balance by singing with the one steady bass they had, A glorious, resonant singer and excellent Christian gentleman named Jim Prather. Over the decade of singing with him, I got to know him in the limited ways that you do singing with someone, and worshipping with him. But I can to respect and enjoy him, sort of as a surrogate father, especially as this was after the passing of my own father.

A few months ago we were warming up before service to sing and Jim didn’t show up. During service we found out that he had fallen on the steps of the church, hit his head, and been taken to the hospital. In the days that followed we were told to not visit but give him the chance and energy to recover at the hospital. He did have some better days, and then passed away. I never got a chance to see or visit him again.

I know it was most important for the family to get to see him. But going through the care decisions yesterday I found myself whipped into my own mourning about Jim Prather, and the hurt I still feel at his absence on Wednesday night choir rehearsals as the only bass without him there.

And I want everyone to know, never ever, in my future care, deny someone who wants to come visit me the opportunity to do so. Not that I expect there will be any sort of flood of people at the hospital wanting to visit me at any time. But anyone who does should be allowed to visit. Their time might need to be limited for medical reasons, but they must all be given the chance to visit. I don’t want anyone to have the feelings I do about not getting to see me, as I still feel so poignantly in the above two cases.

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