Friday, September 20, 2019

Death Nurse Film Fest V-1.3 (2019) - Bubba's Dumb Rass

Maybe not so dumb

Here's an old favorite, an attempt to blend information with entertainment. One of my biggest nursing bugaboos is the casual and unhelpful use of words like agitated, sedated, and confused. They're problematic because they can be interpreted so many different ways. Communication, decision making, and tracking progress is so much easier when everyone is on the same page about describing what they see.

So, here's a look at the Richmond Agitation Sedation Scale (RASS). It can help us all be more specific about what's going on. Narrated by my BBC-British-voiced friend Adam Wheeler.

Thanks for watching. See you next time.

Thursday, September 19, 2019

So Edo Says No No

no more mister nice guy?

If you're late to the game

I guess if Edo's not going to listen to the good stuff, we might as well drag out some horror stories. 

Her's one I posted on October 10, 2017:

It's a pretty cranky piece, but it's about a pretty serious problem that persists. 

I was certain to include important educational material about delirium that's simple, straightforward, and creatively presented through YouTube by noted delirium experts David Meagher and team. 

When you get lemons, make a souffle.

If you want to read more about nonsense, onward...

I was surprised to see that Edo blocked me - ugh, that sounds like something out of middle school. 

Still, I was surprised to see that Edo blocked me, and went over to the NHPCO website to see if maybe I could send him a note. 

Hi, Edo:

I'm not sure what blocking someone on Twitter accomplishes, unless of course that someone is actually a bot.

But, seriously, I'm not a bot. I'm an expert nurse in this field, and was the primary caregiver to my wife Jeanne through her decline and death from Alzheimer's. We used outpatient palliative services and community based hospice. It was an adventure. I understand this work from both sides of the bed, and am committed to making it better.

I hope you still find a way to enjoy #WhoseHospice Stories for Info and Edo, the series I've been posting at my blog that was prompted by your request last month, when Michael reported on Twitter about how a VITAS office in Florida failed his father. You wanted accounts of hospice going "above and beyond," as well as "horror stories."

I think it's important for patients, families, clinicians, and the community to understand more about advance care planning, and their options for facing serious illness and end of life. So many ways into these topics. 

Best, Jerry

I got an email response from the org's Senior Director of Communications and Digital Strategy, Amanda Bow

Dear Mr. Soucy,

Thanks for reaching out to us at We are always interested in learning more about the experiences hospice patients and families have, both the good and the bad. I appreciate your expertise and commitment to improving hospice and palliative care. We support the hospice and palliative care community and we advocate for quality, compassionate, and compliant care. With that, we also know how important it is to increase transparency and education, and we are working with many folks to make that happen.

If you have any questions, please feel free to send me an email.

Best, Amanda

I did have a question for her - what's Edo afraid of?

Also too: Wait - What? "Compliant care?"

Thanks for reading. See you next time. We still need to finish the story about Jack and Jill and Golf and the Hill.

Thursday, September 12, 2019

Death Nurse Film Fest V-1.2 (2019) - Ice Cream, a Love Story

"I dreamed I saw you in an ice cream parlor, 
drinking milkshakes cold and long."*

Ice Cream, a Love Story (2015)

A story about a loving couple making their way through the minefield of serious illness. I developed it in late 2015 as part of a presentation at a local conference for hospice and palliative clinicians, but didn't have it finished as a video soon enough - I narrated it as a slide show.

The narrator is Redd Horrocks, an amazing voice actor in the UK. I got royalty-free music at Bensound.

A young version of Jeanne was the model for Suzy, and I was the model for Mark (except for the hair).

Death Nurse Film Fest V-1 (2019)

V-1.1 - Boo Boo interviews Jessica Zitter

* That's a line from 'Five Years' by David Bowie. Here's one of many terrific performances, this with a toned-down Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars.

David Bowie is helping me grieve

Jeanne and David Bowie died a few days apart, and were also close in age. My last days with her included a lot of his music, and it's been that way ever since - the music, I mean.

The lyrics and sentiments in this song are also tightly tied to our experience, because the overall trajectory of her illness took us through a period of about five years, from mid-2010 to January 2016.

Five Years
David Bowie

Pushing through the market square,
So many mothers sighing
News had just come over,
We had five years left to cry in

News guy wept and told us,
Earth was really dying
Cried so much his face was wet,
Then I knew he was not lying

I heard telephones, opera house, favorite melodies
I saw boys, toys, electric irons and T.V.'s
My brain hurt like a warehouse, it had no room to spare
I had to cram so many things to store everything in there
And all the fat-skinny people, and all the tall-short people
And all the nobody people, and all the somebody people
I never thought I'd need so many people

A girl my age went off her head,
Hit some tiny children
If the black hadn't a-pulled her off,
I think she would have killed them

A soldier with a broken arm,
Fixed his stare to the wheels of a Cadillac
A cop knelt and kissed the feet of a priest,
And a queer threw up at the sight of that

I think I saw you in an ice-cream parlor,
Drinking milk shakes cold and long
Smiling and waving and looking so fine,
Don't think you knew you were in this song

And it was cold and it rained so I felt like an actor
And I thought of Ma and I wanted to get back there
Your face, your race, the way that you talk
I kiss you, you're beautiful, I want you to walk

We've got five years, stuck on my eyes
Five years, what a surprise
We've got five years, my brain hurts a lot
Five years, that's all we've got
We've got five years, what a surprise
Five years, stuck on my eyes
We've got five years, my brain hurts a lot
Five years, that's all we've got
We've got five years, stuck on my eyes
Five years, what a surprise
We've got five years, my brain hurts a lot
Five years, that's all we've got
We've got five years, what a surprise
Five years, stuck on my eyes
We've got five years, my brain hurts a lot
Five years, that's all we've got
Five years
Five years
Five years
Five years

Source: LyricFind
Songwriters: David Bowie
Five Years lyrics © Tintoretto Music, BMG Rights Management

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Death Nurse Film Fest V-1.1 (2019) - Boo Boo Interviews Jessica Zitter

a doctor who takes direction

I've got a handful of drafts for blog posts, along with some other projects that I'm juggling, so until I can get them into final form, which I will, I thought I'd launch another idea that's been kicking around - a film festival celebrating my student films from the past couple of years, hereafter known as Death Nurse Film Fest V-1 (2019).

I'm going to post one of my own films each day for the next several days, however many days as I have student films. After that, I will post the film made by someone else that I believe deserves the title of 'Best Film by a Nurse in My Personal Opinion,' and will award it the Death Nurse Film Fest V-1 (2019) Golden Swab of Excellence.

I'm happy to start this year's festival with a short documentary featuring Jessica Zitter and the indomitable Boo Boo. We did this as part of the June 25th screening of Extremis.

Let your senses feast.

Posts I'm currently working on:

Sunday, September 1, 2019

#WhoseHospice Stories for Info and Edo, Part 2

Still three nice guys on the same page, tra la

Get up to speed with Part 1 here

Jack and Jill and Golf and a Hill, Part 2

The spot was perfect, and I was just starting to wonder if anyone had brought Jack's clubs to the graveside service, when I saw it leaning smartly against his box of cremains, the club he was most fond of - a vintage Spaulding Executive 7 wood, marketed to women golfers.

“You can laugh all you want,” Jack had said to me not long before, gesturing to the wall by his hospital bed where it hung like a favorite fishing rod. “But I scored two Aces with that ladies’ club.”

“Now he sleeps closer to that ladies’ club than he does to this lady,” Jill chuckled. “That’s what it means to get old.”

They sat as closely together as they could, holding hands - Jack lying in his bulky recliner, Jill erect on her electric scooter.  We were talking about his illness, and how it began. 

“I played six rounds in the last two weeks of April. Eighteen holes every time. I felt great. I won a few, and a couple of early tournaments were coming up, when - BAM! One morning my back started to hurt, and by noon I was crying to go to the hospital.” 

“He never once complained before that. Never,” Jill said. “He never missed work, and never missed a chance to play golf. I called the ambulance. Our friends took me to the hospital for the next few days.”

Their medical team on the Cape quickly diagnosed Jack’s advanced cancer. At the urging of their adult children, he and Jill agreed to return to their former home, where they could explore treatment options in nearby Boston. 

Jack decided against that plan somewhere along the ride from the Cape. “I was miserable. In pain. Scared. Scared for her. I wanted to throw up, jump out of the car, do something, and I knew it was just going to get worse and then I’d die. I couldn’t see myself going in and out of Boston, feeling sicker than I already did, putting everyone else through that for who knows how long? And for what?”

He shrugged, “So we ended up calling you guys.”

Jill dabbed at her cheeks with a fresh tissue.

“Well, not right away. I needed to convince the boss. Once she agreed we started singing that beautiful song by Frank Sinatra, you know, the one from his later years…”

Here they put their heads together, eyes closed, arms around each other, and sang -

“And now, the end is near 
And so I face the final curtain
My friend, I'll say it clear 
I'll state my case, of which I'm certain
I've lived a life that's full 
I've traveled each and every highway
But more, much more than this 
I did it HER way!”

To be continued...