I was introduced to my first hospice patient on a cold January day in Truckee, California. Abby, a 5’ 8”, dark haired, well built woman, approached me after a Jazzercise class. She had learned that I was a Jin Shin Jyutsu practitioner interested in working with hospice. She told me about her friend, Rick who had recently been diagnosed with liver cancer and asked if I could visit him. Of course I would. I felt honored.
For over a year, Rick had been seeing blood in his stool but was afraid to go to the doctor. He became increasingly weak and the pain in his stomach wouldn’t go away. No longer could he get through the day without pain pills, shots of whiskey and 3 or 4 marijuana cigarettes. He knew something was terribly wrong. Finally, Abbey convinced him to see a doctor. That was the end of December. The doctor told him he had inoperable liver cancer. Rick fell into a deep depression. Two days after his diagnoses, Rick caught the flu and lost over 40 pounds.
Abby and Mark, her husband, became very concerned about Rick and admitted him to the hospital, where he stayed for seven days. He lay in the bed listless, just wanting to die. This is where I first met him. Katie, a hairdresser had come a few minutes before me to wash and cut his hair. As she talked and massaged his scalp, color came back into his cheeks. She left soon after. I then asked if I could offer Jin Shin Jyutsu. He shook his head yes. I felt he was confused, so I tried to explain it.
I knelt beside his hospital bed and said, ” I’m going to hold your opposite fingers and toes. It’s not painful and all you have to do is lie there quietly. It might help you feel a little better, Ok?.”
He moved his head slowly and asked, “ Have we met before?”
“Yes. We have. ” I answered. “At the Los Amigos restaurant last summer. I was with a girlfriend and we shared margaritas with you and your brother outside on the patio. It was a pleasant evening and we met your girls too. They seemed to be having as much fun as we were. You told me that your family had moved from Los Angeles to the Sierra. Also, how you loved the mountains and are an avid cross-country skier, camper, fisherman and hiker.”
This now shell of a man used to be a tall, stocky guy with light brown hair and deep blue eyes. His brother, Steve, moved up with him and together they had created a successful painting business. Both men were currently separated from their wives and had two girls each, all under 12 years of age. The six of them were always doing something together when Rick’s girls were in town from Los Angeles.
He shook his head, slightly, as if trying to remember. He never said another word as I held his fingers and toes because he fell asleep almost immediately. A half hour slipped by and the nurse entered the room with his lunch. I finished and quietly left. The next time I would see him, he was out of the hospital and in his apartment.