Mastodon 12_09 ~ Pallimed

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Hospice and Palliative Haiku

Photo by Flick user Isidro Cea 
While we often go to great lengths to explain what hospice and palliative care is about to families, patients and our peers, it is important to find the beauty in simplicity.  Haiku are a great exercise in editing and restraint in conveying your message with brevity and density.   On Twitter I happened to come across this haiku from an ER nurse

Helping people die.
Enemas and Foley caths.
Things I've been thanked for.

Jason Hautala is the ER nurse/author who recently published a book, Haiku Stat! compiling some of his best and most poignant work.  The article in Emergency Medicine News explains that this act of creation is really an avenue to channel the emotions, frustrations and difficulties he and his colleagues see in the ER.  It is nice to see self-care as a concern beyond palliative clinicians!  

So I challenged Pallimed followers on Twitter and Facebook to contribute some of their own haiku.  (Haikus for the uninitiated are short poems using a 5-7-5 syllable structure.) Here is a sample:

Never say 'no hope'
We help the sick shift their hopes
To hope in comfort

Palliation treats

Body, heart, mind and spirit
More than pain relief

End of life is like

Touching down on the tarmac
We guide smooth landings

- DF

Care for our elders

Supporting life until death
Learning all life long


Like to talk to folks

Like listening even more?
Why I love hospice.

Cared for by a team

Fam'ly and community
I go not alone

- VH

Cancer blossoming.

Lungs are red fields of poppies.
In the end Morphine.


Bleeding from his mouth

D'you want to be more sleepy?
I asked. He nodded

- KS

New diagnosis - scary

Chose palliative care
Relief for me and family.

- PH

Losses never lost
What we love: always with us
Becoming who we are

- KO

Eyes closed breathing slow
Family discussing will
I can still hear you!


I wish I was off.
Phone rings. I go, give my best.
A death: empathy.

I chose it, hospice:
Dying as part of work day.
I learn: Enjoy life.


"Will I die tonight?".
A nurse pauses, remembering.
A dead reckoning.

- HB

Try this out as a team activity, and feel free to post your own in the comments, on twitter (#HPMHaiku), or on our Facebook page.  Maybe if we get enough, we could make a book too!

Sunday, September 23, 2012 by Christian Sinclair ·

Nominations to the IOM Committee on Transforming End-of-Life Care

The Institute of Medicine is searching for experts in the scientific, technical, and medical professions to be considered for a study committee titled “Committee on Transforming End-of-Life Care.” Nominations are due Monday, September 24, 2012.

The overall objective of the project is to advance policies to improve the care that individuals and families receive at the end of life through alignment with individual values and preferences and to stimulate a national conversation with individuals, families, and communities on improving the way we approach death. Specifically, the IOM committee will: review progress since the landmark 1997 IOM report Approaching Death: Improving Care at the End of Life, assess challenges and opportunities, and examine ways to integrate end-of-life care into a patient- and family-centered, team-based framework of health and community care; make recommendations about changes in public policy, health care financing, and clinical care to better align care with individual values and preferences and promote compassionate, high-quality, and cost-effective care at the end of life; and develop a communication strategy for promoting public information and engagement. 

A complete nomination will include uploading a current CV of the nominee (maximum size 500 kB).

by Brian McMichael, M.D. ·

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

2012 Sojourns Awards from The Cambia Health Foundation

Whenever peers in your field are recognized for their hard work and dedication it is really reason for us all to celebrate the growth and increasing attention for the hospice and palliative care fields.  Of course one would expect one's own representative organizations like HPNA, NHPCO, CAPC, and AAHPM to participate in celebrations of achievement, but it is even more important when groups outside our own tribe begin to share in the accolades.

The Cambia Health Foundation is holding the 2012 Sojourns Awards today in Seattle, WA to recognize five clinicians holding the flag for quality of life and symptom control for those with serious illness. The Sojourns Award was created in 2007 to recognize palliative care regional leaders in Washington, Oregon, Idaho and Utah.  As luck would have it I was already planning to be in Seattle today, and the Cambia Health Foundation invited me to the Awards ceremony to meet the award recipients.   Also attending the ceremony is the journalist Ellen Goodman, who has recently co-founded The Conversation Project, which encourages people to talk about their end-of-life care wishes.  She will be giving the keynote, presumably about her new project, which I also plan on featuring here soon.

 I'm hoping to be able to interview all of the awardees and tell you more about their projects and the particular challenges and rewards they have encountered. You can read more about each of their work with the links below if you are curious.    

For more live coverage you can follow me on Twitter at @ctsinclair or the hashtag #SojournsAwards.  I believe Eric Widera from GeriPal will also be at the conference so they might have some coverage as well. I'll be testing out some audio recordings as well for possible future podcasting.  I'll let you know how that experiment goes as well. 

(Disclaimer: The Cambia Health Foundation will be covering one night hotel stay as part of the invitation to blog and tweet about the event)

Wednesday, September 19, 2012 by Christian Sinclair ·

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

TEDMED: The 20 Great Challenges of Health and Medicine

I wanted to bring to the attention of the Pallimed community that TEDMED is sponsoring a series of discussions on a new interactive minisite: The 20 Great Challenges of Health and Medicine. The purpose of the series is to elicit multiple perspectives and interaction with thought leaders on some of the large, complex problems in health in medicine that effect us all.

One of the first 6 online discussions active right now is on The Caregiver Crisis

"Coming soon" will be an online discussion on Coming to Grips with End-of-Life Care

It is interesting to note that so far the only TEDMED presentation that has been explicitly about EOL decision-making is this one by Alexandra Drane, the driving force behind Engage With Grace. Perhaps someone out there in Pallimed-land has a big idea to pitch.


Wednesday, September 12, 2012 by Brian McMichael, M.D. ·

A New Day for Pallimed

Hi remember us?  Just your friendly neighborhood hospice and palliative medicine blog.  Yes we have been quiet for almost three months.  And even before that we were slowing down in our posts.  But I think that needs to change. And it will start to change now.

Pallimed has been a labor of love since its inception.  No ad revenue, no grants, no donations, just some after hours writing on topics which we the writers thought were interesting.  We were part of a very early growth in specialty medicine blogs and became a pretty strong voice.  But then the time to write posts seemed to disappear, it was easier to just tweet a link, and many other good informational sources started appearing.  We have heard many stories from all of you about how seeing these posts made you feel more comfortable to start your own blog, or start to tweet and share information about hospice and palliative care far beyond the walls of your organization.

Many times over the past few months I have written drafts to post, only to save them, and feeling they were not up to par.  A severe case of writer's block is what I finally self-diagnosed. The block is a vicious beast.  But today is a new day.

This new day is inspired by a sign I saw while driving down the street in Chicago on a recent visit.  Now if any of you know me, I am not one to think much of superstition or amazing coincidences, but I would describe my understanding of the human mind as a meaning making machine. So when I saw this sign I was overcome with a rush of meaning.

Yes, that is the 'P' of Pallimed in the serif font known as Algerian. I had never seen it in other locations, (even though apparently it can be seen in many places, and inspires a deep loathing.)  What I see with this sign is not the classic 'No Parking Any Time' but rather 'No Pallimed Any Time.'

And I did not like the feeling when I saw it.  So now in this new day, you will start to see more posts from me, and I will start to spur the old motley crew of bloggers who have written some fantastic posts in the past.  I have thoughts for a redesign but hiring a professional coder to do the work so it has a much cleaner and intuitive feel, maybe even a new logo to get rid of that loathsome Algerian.  So if you want to be part of the new day, keep reading, commenting, sharing, and if you really want to contribute (no blogging experience necessary) email me now at

More to come on the new day...

by Christian Sinclair ·

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