He Was Angry!

According to the nurse, he was angry.

According to the chaplain, he was angry.

According to the social worker, he was angry.

These three hospice colleagues separately visited the same patient and husband over the course of several days. While each met with the patient for different reasons—from the nurse determining the most appropriate medications for the patient’s needs to the social worker assisting with Medicare forms—they all experienced the wrath of a husband.

His wife had entered hospice care a few days before. Her cancer and Alzheimer’s had combined to wear her, and her husband, down. They dreaded the next midnight run to the emergency room or another lengthy stay in the hospital. Her oncologist had announced chemo or radiation therapies would no longer work. The neurologist, once upbeat about drug trials for her dementia, had exhausted all options as her disease slowly worsened. Many of the doctors and nurses they’d seen in recent weeks had mentioned hospice.

And so, his wife became a hospice patient. Read More →

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Take Advantage of Hospice!

A friend’s grandmother recently entered hospice care. (Which, for confidentiality’s sake, may not be correct. It’s not his grandmother. And my friend could be a her rather than a his.)

This is all you need to know: my friend is tired. Caring for a loved one is exhausting.

Soon after the grandmother entered hospice, my friend planned respite time because of being weary and worn down. 

What? Respite? What’s that?

The Medicare benefits of hospice allow for an occasional “break” for caregivers. At the hospice where I work, that means a patient could spend several days away from their home and stay at our inpatient facility, a modified suburban house. With only six beds, space isn’t guaranteed. But if there’s a bed, a parent or spouse or other beloved can be supported while the primary caregiver rests—gets respite. There are other choices, such as briefly entering a skilled nursing facility or hospital. All hospices will have suggested options for respite time. Ask one of the hospice staff. They will have an answer. Read More →

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Don’t Cut the Switchbacks

Switchbacking trail in the Grand Canyon.

When younger, I did quite a bit of backpacking. Many hikes were in California’s Sierra Nevada, but I’ve hauled lots of (not) tasty dehydrated food along the Appalachian Trail, into the Grand Canyon, and through lesser-known spots like the Marble Mountain Wilderness. I’ve tramped alone, led groups of youth and adults, and had wonderful experiences with friends.

On every adventure, I honored one of backpacking’s key mantras: Pack it in, Pack it out.

That mantra is first and foremost a reminder not to leave junk behind. Don’t litter! If you bring a Zip-lock bag bursting with delicious gorp, don’t discard the used plastic container on the trail after gulping the nuts, dried fruits, and other tasty treats. If you carried it in, you can carry now lighter version out! The same applies to food packaging after those fabulous freeze-dried meals are eaten and only foil or paper remains. Read More →

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