It’s Thursday afternoon and my first day working as a volunteer in the office at a local hospice. My assignment: Calls to patients to check if they are running low on supplies or medications. This doesn’t seem like anything I can’t handle. There’s a script I can read from. A form to complete and sign for each call I make.
Most of the calls meet with voice mail or a caregiver or patient who assures me they need nothing at the moment. “Thank you and have a blessed day,” I say. Except a few times I slip up and tell them to have a good day or a great day but they don’t seem to notice.
If anything out of the ordinary occurs, I make a note and set the form aside so the patients’ needs can be channeled to the appropriate party. One is for a mother who’s caring for her son. She asks if there’s a group for people like her, who are grieving for the anticipated loss of a loved one. I think how hard it would be for me if I was in her place.
But another phone call, answered by a patient’s wife (I assume) goes like this:
Me: “…checking to see if you are running low on any medications or supplies.”
Her: “Yes. He’s running low on condoms.”
Me: “Excuse me. Did you say condoms?”
There’s a long pause on my end while I try to process the fact that her husband is under hospice care, but apparently well enough to need condoms. I silently wonder if those are covered by Medicare. And I secretly think he deserves a high five.
Into the silence, she says, “He has a condom catheter. And we’re low on condoms.”
Me: Oh, duh. A condom catheter. Of course. “I’ll make a note of that and make sure whoever orders those gets the message. Anything else?”
Her: “No. Just the condoms.”
Me: “All right then. Thank you and have a blessed day.”
My “boss” comes in and I tell her about my interaction. I am sure I’m not the first newbie to make this assumption. She seems to find it mildly amusing but later I hear her repeating the story in the front office and everyone is chuckling about it.
I imagine they all welcome a good laugh. Maybe it’s my purpose to provide it.
#hospice #volunteer #condoms