The all natural pain blocker

by Ed Hyland, HPCCR volunteer

Ed Hyland, volunteer and singer

I called in to a staff education session at Hospice & Palliative Care Charlotte Region a few weeks ago to listen to a presenter discuss pain management at end of life.  Although I am not clinically trained, I was able to follow (for the most part) what she was talking about.  When she mentioned non-pharmacological techniques (particularly distraction), it piqued my interest since what I do at Levine & Dickson Hospice House is sing to the patients and their families and visitors.  I have always realized that music is soothing and helps our frame of mind, but I’ve never thought of it as having a potentially distracting effect to someone in pain.

The presenter also mentioned that pain is multi-dimensional and that sometimes faith-based issues can be particularly complicated for certain patients.  There are some, for example, who feel that they somehow deserve their pain or shouldn’t seek to relieve it.  When I consider the songs that we sing for the patients at LDHH (hymns and even uplifting secular songs), many of the lyrics are encouraging, comforting, and assuring to us as singers and certainly to the listeners as well.

Although my contribution is limited as to how I can help relieve pain in hospice patients, I certainly now have a better understanding of how the singing of my group — the Hospice Music Makers (HMMRs for short) — fits into the team approach used at HPCCR.  And perhaps our songs will allow our listeners to get past some hurdle that may be holding them back; maybe help them keep a check on depression or anxiety, or preserve or even restore some functionality they may have temporarily lost due to the attention their pain has demanded.

As HMMRs, many times we hear patients and visitors tell us how much they have appreciated our music.  Often we can see it in their faces.  But after listening to the presentation that week, I realize that our singing can have a significant effect, and help replace pain with joy. Knowing that pain can act as a joy blocker, I will now think of my singing as a pain blocker.

The Hospice Music Makers (HMMRs) perform for patients, families, and visitors of Levine & Dickson  Hospice House – Huntersville.  For more information about this group, please contact Misty Molloy at 704.335.3553.

Explore posts in the same categories: awareness, end of life, hospice, Levine & Dickson Hospice House, volunteering

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