Wednesday, 22 March 2017

Clean Sheets

Sometimes a patient just cannot rest.......it often happens when they are dying.
You have administered all the medications you can. You have turned them into a more comfortable position. You have talked to them, held their hand, Watered them , and soothed them but still their restlessness continues and that makes you frustrated and helpless and the family fraught and pained.

There is something that can be done at times like these, and I was reminded of this when a dear friend shared their observations on the subject this morning.
You wash your patient, and you change the bed sheets.
There is something fundamental in this simple act of care, as in some strange way, the simple feeling of clean skin, damp hair that is combed and brushed and crisp clean sheets under a tired body that transports you to Sunday childhood bedtimes after bath time.

Rest hopefully will come then, often when dawn is breaking.
The power of crisp clean sheets.


77 comments:

  1. Nothing as restful as clean sheets that have been dried on the clothes line and the pillow cases ironed....soothing

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  2. "Rest often will come then, often when dawn is breaking" gave me chills.

    xx

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  3. I was actually yawning reading this... Gonna do some laundry and take a shower!

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  4. I agree. Clean sheets make a difference.

    For almost a decade, I cared for my dementia-stricken father. Loose bowels were a big problem. Despite padding, it wasn't unusual to find a sloppy bed at 5.30am, with Dad agitated.

    Although a carer was due later, I couldn't bear the thought of him lying in slop for a second longer. I'd set to and clean him/change sheets. It always calmed Dad, and made me feel better.

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    1. Carers the unsung heroes of healthcare

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  5. This is exactly what a hospice nurse did for my mom. Even though we were heartbroken, watching her so tenderly caring for her and the look of peace on my mother's face was comforting and beautiful. I know that was her job but her kindness will never be forgotten.

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  6. This is true for those I've cared for, and also for myself. If I am restless, a bath and clean sheets will help me settle.

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  7. Small things have immense power in times of stress and the kindness of clean sheets and a wash is something I hope we all have in our last days.

    And once again tears in my eyes reading your words.

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  8. Something we all know, but seldom put into words. I'm sure as soon as people read it, they gave a knowing glance. Sometimes, we need to be reminded.

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  9. I will never forget the kindness of various nurses throughout my life. Some are mythic.

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  10. The kindness and care in this made me weep.

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  11. It's very true. I'll never forget the joy in the dying man's eyes whose facial stubble I carefully and closely shaved with a bright new razor, hot water, and soap.

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  12. Yes, John Gray. Yes.

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  13. What a clever idea. But yes, how upsetting it must be for relatives if someone is so restless and won't be comforted.

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  14. So true. Three days before my Dad passed, he had a day that was good. He insisted on a shave and a shower. He was so much happier after getting clean and I wish I had recognized it for what it was, by 6:00 that night he was no longer communicating with words, just squeezing our hands, it was the last time I heard his voice. But, it is a beautiful memory.

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  15. I understand. while not dying, I am the Princess and the Pea. a wrinkle under my hip will drive me crazy.

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  16. I am wondering if this takes one back to the shock/discomfort of our birth and the feeling of comfort once we are washed and cleaned and wrapped in clean blankets......full-circle.

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    1. An interesting take jimbo

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  17. A bath and clean sheets is one of life's great pleasures.

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  18. Simple pleasures bring the most comfort. Yes, a bath and clean sheets, or just a clean glass of cold crisp water....the simple basic things of life.

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  19. I found your post very moving. Such a simple thing to do, that has such an impact on an ailing soul. Your words transported me back to the Sunday nights of my childnood, quite perfectly.

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    1. It was an email from weaver that sparked all of this today

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    2. I have not visited Weaver for a few days, this is such sad news.

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  20. And it is a privilege to be able to care for someone in this way.

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  21. Beautiful image.....and oh so true! I loves me some clean sheets!

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  22. nothing quite like crisp clean sheets!

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  23. You are an angel, John. I've willed that you will be around me on my deathbed!

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    1. I'll be gone years before you old bean x

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  24. When we were younger and spunkier, clean sheets were always a sign of fun to come, Now, they're just a pleasure to snuggle together into. Either way is fine with me. I often tease the husbear that I know he has a nursing home on speed dial for when I have taken a fall or appear confused etc. Since he never changes the bed, at least I don't have to be on guard for that sign.

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    1. Shorthand eh? Clean sheets= rumpy pumpy! Lol

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  25. This post has made me cry. My dad died of pancreatic cancer and, although I flew over to see him in his last weeks, I was thousands of miles away in Australia when he actually died. I wish I could have been there to do those simple but vital things for him as he ebbed away. You have moved me very much with your words John. I have been reading your blog for ages, and loving it. I haven't commented before though. Thank you.

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    1. Welcome alex.. Wlelcome x

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  26. Crisp, clean sheets - soothing to the sick, healthy or just plain weary.

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  27. Lovely John. Just lovely.

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  28. Insightful, as always. Have you started that first book yet?

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    1. I retire officially the last day of july..thats when i start

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  29. Absolutely...

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  30. You make me almost feel them. We take them for granted as children, relish clean sheets as adults, find comfort in them always. You're going to miss some of this, aren't you.

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  31. This post was triggered by an email I recieved from weaver. My thoughts are with her today

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  32. Working in oncology many years ago there were two special patients who just could not get comfortable. It was the wee hours of the morning.

    I bathed them, changed the sheets on their beds. Then I propped them on their sides and gave them a good back massage. They both died during the massage. There was about three weeks between patients and I know their passing was in comfort.

    After that though, the other night nurses would not let me rub their necks, as they had often asked me to do, when they were charting.

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  33. Absolutely.. a childhood memory of caring would be calming and bring present day comfort.

    Strength to Weaver. The greatest gift to another human is that caring in every way and so poignant to those that love that dear one the most.

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  34. Once again, a tender, loving act. Soul soothing.

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  35. Equally sad and beautiful. x

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  36. If there was a clean sheet fairy (who wasn't me) I would have clean sheets every day.
    Such a soothing feeling. Such a loving, caring gesture.

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  37. I feel quite tearful reading this x

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  38. Such a lovely idea and such a tender action.

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  39. The care of one human for another....that's what it's about at the end of the day isn't it. I went on a Death and Commemoration course recently and the archaeologist speaking showed us a picture of a skeleton dreadfully ravaged by leprosy. Shocking, but as he commented it also shows that the individual must have been cared for because he could never have survived the disease to that degree had someone not been feeding him etc. Very moving. Arilx

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  40. You've made me cry, remembering my father and how much enjoyment he got from the simplest acts of caring near the end. A clean bed and a bath were two of the best.

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  41. So right as always. Funny in ITU isn't it? We do their breathing for them, keep their blood pressure up, keep their hearts beating and fill them with fluids in one way or another. But the nicest thing is to keep them clean and the sheets clean, and at the end, that is all we can do. I love my job, and hate the politics. xx

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    1. My one day a week keeps me away from the politics ....generally speaking

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    2. I do 2 days, but lately for reasons I cannot go into here, politics and so on are the pits and I want to leave. x

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    3. I leave in 17 shifts!

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    4. If politics prevents loving care, and I see that in my country as well, then we are way off the scale for what is human!! It really can't be blamed on lack of resource, as often happends, it's a lack of wisdom and good planning. Please don't leave, urge the rest of us to put pressure where it works!!

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  42. I witnessed this at St. Luke's Hospice in Sheffield when my sister was dying. The care was phenomenal and this was something they said really made a difference (and it clearly did).

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    1. I lived in sheffield and know st lukes well

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  43. Gosh, that takes me back to when I was a little girl and poorly at home. Just getting back, clean, into a fresh bed was so comforting.

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  44. I have freshly washed bedding tonight. It is so comforting to get into a bed all fresh and clean with freshly washed night clothes and covers. It really makes a person feel cared for. x

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  45. 19 years ago Jim and I shared this process in the passing of my Mom. I still feel the strength of this moment.
    Ron

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  46. You're not washing my sheets or holding my hand, before you get any ideas.

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  47. Beautiful written John. Thank you

    Ruth in Oxnard CA but coming to the UK in 8 days!

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  48. I think you are exactly right John. Preferably ironed sheets, some lavender water spritz and a foot massage hitting all the pressure points. The personal human touch means so much.

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    1. Yes. Foot massage has been something I could do for the two people I have helped see over. It was a very loving and peaceful thing to be able to do for them and seemed much appreciated.

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  49. A nurse that have no time for these loving details should considder a change of occupation. The Lord knew his business when he called you, John. In spite of long hours and tiresome night duty, I think you know that!!!

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  50. I was very ill as a child and one of the things I remember my mother doing is changing the bed every day with clean, IRONED, bedding. To this day, I still remember that whenever I am a little ill. If just somebody would change my bedding, I would get well much sooner!

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  51. Weaver's farmer passed away... thought you should know if you didn't already.

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    1. Oh this is terrible. I'm so sad for Weaver.

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  52. I am just broken hearted by Weaver's news. Hope and pray that he had a nurse as caring as you John.

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  53. I had just put clean sheets on the bed tonight and climbed into bed with my laptop when I came upon this post. Clean sheets are just the best thing ever.

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  54. Clean sheets are certainly designed to calm. It's the little things that count.

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  55. I just came over after reading Weaver's post about the farmer. So sad. Hope he had some comfort at the end. Simple things like clean sheets do make such a difference.

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  56. Such a wise post.

    I hope that what someone said in the list above about a book is true. A collection of Going Gently posts -- or essays or something -- would be an incredible read, and possibly a rather unexpected best seller like All Creatures Great and Small years ago.

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  57. What a kind man you are, as well as being a good nurse. When my mum was dying 5 years ago, doctors encouraged us to follow Liverpool Pathway protocol, which I believe is now discredited. She took a week to die and it haunts me that we didn't do the right thing by her. I wish you had been there x

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