Anger, Angrier, Angriest

Hospice ADLs:  My Adventures of Daily Learning.106

According to the nurse, he was angry.

According to the chaplain, he was angry.

According to the social worker, he was angry.

From the 1957 film, "12 Angry Men."

From the 1957 film, “12 Angry Men.”

These three hospice staff separately visited the same patient and husband over the course of several days. While each met with the patient for different reasons—from the nurse determining the most appropriate medications for the patient’s needs to the social worker helping to complete forms for Medicare—they all experienced the wrath of a husband.

His wife had entered hospice care a few days before. Her cancer and Alzheimer’s had combined to wear her, and her husband, down. They dreaded the next midnight run to the emergency room or another lengthy stay in the hospital. Her oncologist had announced chemo or radiation therapies would no longer work. The neurologist, once upbeat about new treatments for her dementia, had exhausted all options as her disease slowly worsened. Many of the doctors and nurses they’d seen in recent weeks had mentioned hospice.

And so, his wife became a hospice patient.

And his anger, apparently, boiled over. As in, angere, from the old Latin word: to throttle, to torment. And torment the hospice staff he did. Continue reading

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Circumlocution Confessions

Isaiah 40:21-31 – The 5th Sunday after Epiphany – for February 8, 2015

“Don’t you know? Haven’t you heard? The Lord is the everlasting God . . .” (Isaiah 40:28)

It seems such a puny, one-syllable word in English . . . God.

The-Names-of-GodThe Italians (Dio) also have three letters, whereas the Germans (Gott), French (Dieu), and Spanish (Dios) boast a grand total of four. Hmong (Vajtswv) and Filipino (Maykapal) increase the count average, but how much of that is based on translations in the English alphabet?

For Scrabble, G2-O1-D2 amounts to 5 ho-hum points (unless linked to other words or when the tiles are placed on a double or triple square).

As I, and countless others, have joked (or have been very, furry serious), god spelled backwards is dog. Which, given what I’ve learned from dogs, is never an insult. My puppy Hannah died at 14 years of age last year. If I were to distill all the lessons learned from her into one, I’d claim how humbling it was to be around unconditional love. And, thanks be to YHWH, that’s a darn fine way to understand God.

God, of course, was rarely known as “God” in the original Hebrew or Greek of the Bible. Even confined to the English translations I’m familiar with, God was often known by the aforementioned and unmentionable YHWH, along with Lord, Creator, Almighty and other more-than-three-letter words. If the tetragrammaton YHWH was used in Hebrew scriptures to skirt saying and writing the holy name, then Jesus’ use of Abba—Papa, Daddy—served as an intimate Christian testament counterpoint.

Isaiah declared (from the Common English Bible),

Don’t you know? Haven’t you heard?

The Lord is the everlasting God,

The creator of the ends of the earth.

He doesn’t grow tired or weary.

How can we adequately say or describe God? David James Duncan, in his reverently irreverent “God Laughs & Plays,” wrote: Continue reading


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American Sniper

American-Sniper_612x380I saw “American Sniper” today.

It’s not as good as some critics have proclaimed, and not as bad as detractors have warned. Clint Eastwood has made better films. His “Unforgiven” is a classic, with a taut story exploring and exposing human frailties. Other directors have made superior modern combat movies, like Ridley Scott’s “Black Hawk Down.” With similar disparate settings—the battlefield and the home front—“Hurt Locker” remains the best post-September 11 effort and deserved its Oscar.

Both sides now . . . Continue reading

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Syncopal Episodes

Hospice ADLs:  My Adventures of Daily Learning.105

You’ve seen it in films.

A fella learns he has become a father. He faints! (And it’s always better if it’s a brawny, burly guy, as tough as railroad spikes, when this good news levels him.)

Or the tight-lipped rookie cop, a survivor of the city’s mean streets, stands behind the coroner when the murder victim’s body is sliced open. It’s the cop’s first autopsy. She faints!

You've seen it in films . . .

You’ve seen it in films . . .

There’s the damsel in distress, the parent at the doorstep hearing horrible news during World War II about a son, the desperate attorney who hasn’t eaten for days while preparing for the “big case.” At a critical moment, with a soundtrack swelling and the light angling to highlight an anguished face, our hero—or the object of our hero’s affection—keels over.


For Hollywood, fainting can be a dramatic or comedic exclamation point in the unfolding tale of two cities or two people. When it happens, we’re surprised or it’s the dumb cliché we expected, but we’re confident everything will be back to normal by the next scene.

For hospice patients, fainting is dangerous. And it’s more often referred to as a patient having “syncopal episodes” rather than fainting. Some patients, randomly or frequently, will suddenly “faint” or “black out.” It happens once, a second time, and then it becomes a worry. On the Cleveland Clinic’s website, they describe what is possibly happening . . . Continue reading

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True Authority

Mark 1:21-28 – The 4th Sunday after Epiphany – for February 1, 2015

“The people were amazed by his teaching, for he was teaching them with authority . . .” (Mark 1:22)

It was in a college class in 1973 when one of my speech communication professors recalled Martin Luther King’s appearance at a rally in the mid-‘60s.

King had captured the attention of every listener.

King had captured the attention of every listener.

The professor was white, highly educated, and had been raised in Depression-era Texas. He described, as he lectured to his students, the remarkable reactions he’d witnessed as King inspired the crowd. There were men and women, young and old, poorly and richly dressed, black and white (along with the other colors humans are labeled with); some sat and others stood while all pressed against their neighbor as they listened.

And they all seemed to be listening. That’s what amazed this professor, a dispassionate evaluator of speeches and debates. At some point, he had reluctantly shifted from King’s riveting words to study those near him. King had captured the attention of every listener.

King spoke with authority.

King’s words—his truths, hopes, dreams, metaphors, stories, confessions, criticisms, and challenges—seemed to impact and impress each individual. One smiled. Another nodded. The next wept. There was cheering, clapping, amens!, and hugs. Continue reading

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