I get a call from an Internal Medicine Resident about a patient, an American woman, who would like to speak with a chaplain.
I don't get all that many requests from patients, and almost never from English-speaking ones. I'm worried about my English sounding natural enough!
I go in the late afternoon and find the patient sitting up in bed, reading. As she tells me about her terminal-stage brain cancer, I am looking at the cover of the book, a detective novel by Elizabeth George called "This Body of Death." Hmm...
I sit with the patient for as long as it takes for her to get around to her real issue. She wants to die well, to "hold it together" until the end, and is finding that she lacks the emotional resources to do that.
No easy answer to that. God, I worry about the same thing. Dying like an ass. Afraid I'll be found out for what I really am.
I listen for a long time, praying for grace in one part of my brain.
The patient is Catholic, so at the end I offer to pray with her. We say the Hail Mary together and she is sobbing and shaking.
Later, I suggest to the medical team that they get a Psych consult. She still has time left. Maybe some drugs can help restore a bit of balance, so she can reconnect with the person she is or wants to be, just a little more resilient.