Thursday, June 30, 2011

CPE, CPE, CPE, is there anything else? Oh yeah, CPE...

So it looks like I missed the big Camp Widow contest......Win a scholarship to Camp Widow, yada yada yada...Yes, I missed it. I have been running myself ragged and am plumb wore out. Let's say, in theory, I'd won...I'd still have had to scare up airfare out of thin air. And expenses. And hotel fees, assuming a friend didn't let me crash on their sofa for the weekend...only to return to another two weeks of insanely intense CPE. I said uncle. Next year, I hope...

That's assuming I'm not scheduled for an on-call shift that weekend. I can't remember. I'm only keeping track one week ahead. This week, I had Tuesday night. That was Tuesday all day at the hospital, then all night, then into the next day. I was there til 4 pm the next day. That is a long time.

The trouble with CPE is that, what with HIPAA and privacy and everything else, I'm not sure what I'm allowed to share. Suffice it to say that three people died on my on-call shift last Sunday night, and I spent time with a dying man and his family last week. I'm spending time in the borderlands...No, it's not all people dying, but last week definitely marked a mental boundary shift in my mind. Just like with Nelson's death, there's the Time Before and the Time After.

I hear that you can get a job doing chaplaincy work in hospice with only the first unit of CPE. Part of me finds that idea appealing. But is my job right now a major PTSD trigger? Um, yeah, and I had it beforehand. I need to do something about that so I can do something for others. Because doing this just reinforces that I want to do this. This resonates with me. Maybe I'm just a glutton for punishment...or maybe I've found my charism, as my priest puts it....


  1. You can't say John has cancer and is in his last days.

    You can say, "I spent time with a person who shared with me his/her sense of loss over a disfunctional family." You can say that it is heart wrenching to see someone who wishes they'd spent more time with family than at the office. You can say, "I'm learning that people near the end want to reconcile with others - and that sometimes that desire comes too late" - and the effect that has on others who had longed for reconciliation, but now it's impossible.

    You can say that you met someone with a wonderful spirit - one who said they won't complain if God takes them through a desert rather than a meadow as long as the destination is with Him.

    Share the generalities, no names, (including naming the disease). And perhaps share how you were able to ease the suffering. Did you just listen? Were there things you were able to say? What? Were you able to call someone? Write a letter they could no longer write so dictated to you? Again, no one needs to know what the letter said specifically, just that it was needed and how you helped. Or, did this person minister to you? Did you grow from the experience? How?

    You can share things that would make your readers learn from your experiences and perhaps make changes in their own lives hopefully to make it easier for themselves as they face the end of their own lives or the lives of loved ones. There is plenty of food for a good blog in your work.

  2. Oh, PTSD is NO fun to deal with. I had it for a bit a few years ago. I'm sorry you're having to cope with that hon.

    But I'm glad you've found something you really want to do! That is good news!

    Hang in there, you can do it, you can get through it! Always remember, this too shall pass.



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