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From a volunteer's heart.

This is a story submitted by one of our renal technicians, Elaine May, who also devotes her time and soul to volunteer work. This is her story, published first in the Surrey Hospice Newsletter, Surrey BC, Spring 2008 edition, page 3.

In the past, my one-to-one volunteer assignments in the community have only required that I spend an hour visiting with my clients.

With my last palliative client, this was not to be. Alice and I developed a special bond right from the beginning. My first visit lasted two-and-a-half hours and that's how it continued. We would sit and talk about her life and what the future might hold. She would often invite me to share reflections of my own life as well. We would laugh and laugh and laugh.


Through these conversations I got to know how she felt about her prognosis and how she was going to live her life, but, more importantly, how she was going to die. She was very definite on what she wanted and did not want.

About four weeks into my role as volunteer companion, I received a telephone call saying Alice was admitted to the hospice residence and she wanted me to know.

For the next several weeks I continued to visit, bringing coffee and blueberry fritters and enjoying our remaining time together.

On Christmas Eve, I went to visit. I told her I was going away after Christmas and that this could be the last time we would see each other. I also told her how much I enjoyed getting to know her and was glad she had allowed me into her life at this time.

She died two weeks into the New Year.

In the short time I knew Alice, she taught me many things about life. She taught me many more things about dying.


When I heard that she had died, I went out and had a blueberry fritter and a coffee and said goodbye in that way to someone who had come to mean a great deal to me in a very short time.

Elaine is a dedicated renal tech in our busy hemo unit. She is the kind of person who listens to patients and puts herself out to help with things that really matter to them.

She feeds people who need help, joins in their personal celebrations and is generous with her hugs. Elaine has worked as a nursing aide in extended care and is active as a union steward and takes leadership courses. Our unit benefits from all the heart and soul Elaine shares.

by Elaine May, Renal Tech, hemodialysis unit, at Surrey Hospital, Surrey, British Columbia

Department Editor: Lee Beliveau, RN, CNeph(C), staff nurse, hemodialysis unit, at Surrey Hospital, Surrey, British Columbia
COPYRIGHT 2008 Canadian Association of Nephrology Nurses & Technologists
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2008 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:Bedside Matters ...
Author:May, Elaine
Publication:CANNT Journal
Date:Apr 1, 2008
Previous Article:Are CSN and NKF-K/DOQI mineral metabolism guidelines for hemodialysis patients achievable? results from a provincial renal program.
Next Article:Two perspectives on nursing student exposure to nephrology nursing.

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