This is my second AAHPM-HPNA conference and I have gravitated to the Wounded Healer talk both years. The care and treatments we provide to our patients and loved ones, can take a toll on us as providers. But as Henri Nouwen states our woundedness we can become a source of life for others.

I provide primary and specialty care to persons with ALS, their loved ones and caregivers. I have been the one to provide comfort and guidance. This year death became significant as I lost my mother three weeks ago. When loss becomes personal, everything changes. The daughter, nurse and individual all wrestled with the lack of control over all of it.

I completed a palliative care certificate course at the University of Colorado School of Nursing this past year. The academics of the course and the support of my colleagues helped me through my mother’s subsequent death. I also realized how little information on Palliative Care with Parkinson’s disease exists.

As I sit through the Plenary Session Friday morning “Our Exit Strategy: Denying Death its Strangeness” David Oliver and Debra Parker Oliver I am learning how death has become a teaching moment, at teaching us how to live.

We must take time to read, research, ask questions, reflect, pray, and support and talk to each other. Communication is the key. This George Bernard Shaw quote is at the bottom of all my e-mails: “The biggest problem with communication is the illusion that it has taken place.”

I never knew that Palliative Care would be my passion. But you only get one chance to die well…so let’s do it well.

Patricia Reisinger MS, CRRN, FNP, GNP
Nurse Practitioner
Spinal Cord Disorders Clinic – ALS
Denver, CO