Friday, February 6, 2015

Love Notes

Valentine's Day is right around the corner and I am starting to feel that love is in the air. Last night, after dinner, my husband, daughter and I hung out in the living room watching music videos on YouTube. I think it was a kitchen cleaning stall tactic, but the other two say it "quality bonding time." Call it whatever you want, there we were in from of the TV, my husband with the remote in his hand. Large and in charge, he was the VJ for the evening.

Feeling nostalgic, or having had enough of the usual "kid stuff" my daughter requests, my husband treated us to an all out George Michael video marathon. With one video right after the next, the experience included "Faith",  "As" and for the big finish, "Kissing a Fool". He sang along with George, he danced like George and then finally, he swept me off my feet. He pulled me from my perch on the sofa and spun me around  to the living room dance floor.

We swayed side to side in a little circle like two awkward junior high kids at a school dance. Our chaperone, who is 9 years old, was less than happy that we were so close, but in the end, it was great evening. Soon after, we were off to bed and each of us ended the day with smiles on our faces and a little more love in our hearts.

I headed off to work this morning feeling great! With just three visits to complete, and more than enough travel time in between, I was anticipating an "easy" day. My therapy sessions went as usual and I was providing some real top notch education. The patients and family members I spoke with were nodding their heads and, as you would hope, "verbalizing understanding of the instruction provided". Nonetheless, I realized a huge about of information was being poured out and decided a written reminder was appropriate. I declared, "I'm going to write all of this down so you can refer back to it. Consider it  a love note from your speech therapist."

Love note #1 was written to the mom of a 9 month old preemie. With no signs or symptoms of dysphagia, she is eating and drinking by mouth but has a feeding tube for over night supplements. Weighing in at just a smidge under 15 pounds and falling into the first percentile on a growth chart, intake and weight gain have been the focus.   I jotted down a list  various developmentally appropriate foods that could be trialed during meals and/or snacks. This mom was thrilled!

Love note #2 was written to a 72 year old patient with squamous cell carcinoma of the salivary glands. He has completed a full round of chemotherapy and 30 sessions of radiation. Unfortunately, three months after these treatments, he is having some complications and is rapidly losing weight. He's suffering from "chemo brain" and is now taking some pretty powerful pain medications. With a not so good memory, I knew for sure he needed a love note.

Love note #3 was written to to an 85 year old patient and his crew of caregivers. These strategies are definitely client specific but are really doing the trick in helping him to maintain a clear, dry vocal quality during meals. This love note was propped right on top of the kitchen table and is an obvious reminder of what should be going on "when eating."

Maybe next week, as you go about your work day, you will consider leaving your patients, their caregivers or family members a simple little love note. It takes but just a moment but can make a big difference in terms compliance and follow through. Why don't you spread some love around your town?

"People don't care how much you know, until they know how much you care."         John C. Maxwell