Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Keeping Company With a Client With Depression

The first time I saw the patient on the desk, trying to regain her composure when she gave her insurance information and co-payments for the financial representative. Our center is always cold, an old house renovated with air conditioning is too hot or too cold. She was shivering and crying, struggling for composure. I brought him a heating blanket behind her and gently rubbed his back as he did all the initial paperwork. It was the beginning of your trip to chemotherapy, surgery and possibly radiation treatment.

While she waited, we talked of many things: his career as a salesman in a store I frequent, to your next wedding, family members who were with her. She confided in me that had a long history of clinical depression. I thought to myself how the treatment of cancer only puts people at risk of clinical depression, but had to be even more difficult, starting with a level of risk. And so often, depression and anxiety appear together. I brought him a drink and waited until she got her blood work. At times, she was in tears as he spoke.

I asked if he could give a gentle shoulder massage while waiting to see the doctor. First taught a relaxation technique I use with a large number of patients, something to focus on while massaging his shoulders. It's easy: Breathe in, think of a word, breathes, thinks otherwise. Once she could do that, he rubbed his hands for several minutes until he was called to the examination room. I know the importance of patients tell their stories. So we talked. I've heard.

A few days later I received a phone call from her. She wanted me there on his first day of chemotherapy. I was crossing the street in the center, but I told her to call me when they started and I would walk. When I walked in and saw his face, his smile was so real, her eyes lit up, I was surprised how different it looked from a few days ago. I hardly recognized her.

To reduce anxiety in a treatment center, this is what I do: bring blankets and snacks. Talk about our families and vacations and jobs. Share photos of your grandchildren, pity about the challenges of parenting. Laugh. Give hugs and kisses of good news when the news is not good. Depending on the patient, the massage can also be done. It can calm someone's heart and put in a beach resort. When there is a lot of anxiety and isolation, the personal touch of massage can offer a fun simple and brief.

Never forget that every patient can get a series of pre-existing conditions. In our work with people in cancer treatment, each patient presents with a history physically and emotionally. We can not forget or overlook these conditions. In the case of anxiety and depression, the person may need special care. I realize this as I work.

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