Archive for Decisions

We Said No to One Hospice

Choices and doors

Don’t judge a book by its cover.

But we do, don’t we? Or what about this cliché:  first impressions matter? Indeed, they do.

My mother’s unexpected cancer diagnosis was around this time six years ago. After a problematic surgery, she quickly required a second one: an inevitable “corrective” procedure. These efforts were designed to provide temporary relief from a tumor-caused blockage in her colon. However, even if the first surgery had been successful, our family would have still needed a hospice evaluation.

Time, and Mom’s relentless, rotten stage-4 disease, was not on anyone’s side.

Since we were unfamiliar with the hospices where Mom lived, my two sisters and I briefly pondered transporting her to my home. Once there, she could be served by the hospice where I work. That thought evaporated like snow in the desert. Contemplating a grueling 170-mile ride and her living far away from supportive friends had too many negatives. For us back then (and for the many who suddenly face hospice care “right now”), each of the dwindling options seem to add more complications.

What should we do? Read More →

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In Hospice: To Bed or Not To Bed?

hospital beds

The rational reasons for using a hospital bed make a long, persuasive list. But you don’t care . . .

Who would want one?

Does anyone really like ‘em?

They have cranks and levers, wobbly wheels, and are cumbersome to move or adjust. Newer models are often complex, with silent electric motors, links for computer cables, and (though pricey) lightweight metal alloy frames.

But who seeks to be horizontal in a hospital bed of any kind? Not for overnight, and certainly not for the remainder of your life. Whenever the hospice clinical staff discusses current patients, it’s nearly inevitable that at least one patient has recently balked at shifting to a hospital bed. I view the hospital bed as one of the intimidating symbols of hospice care. Of course, it’s more than a symbol once it arrives at your home.

Wouldn’t you refuse?

We like love our bed in our bedroom. It’s a sanctuary. Don’t all the health care experts tout the value of a good night’s sleep? Whether retired, in a part-time job, or with a stressful career (along with raising kids, volunteering, and don’t forget yard and house work), doesn’t everyone desire to sleep every day? Do the personal math: we’re on a mattress more than we eat, work, play, exercise, procrastinate, shovel snow, mow a lawn, or take a vacation. Hey, for some, a little sleep is as close as they’ll get to a vacation for long stretches of time. Work is demanding. Families are demanding. At least let me escape into my cozy bed! Read More →

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Hospice Decisions and Right Now


When is the right time to ask about hospice?

Isn’t that the hardest of questions? For a potential hospice patient, the “right” or “best” time answer seems like a grim brew of unsettling, intimidating, and unfair choices.

Some would prefer their doctors provide the answer. Though there are exceptions, most physicians have spent scant time in training about “end of life” concerns. The lengthy education for a medical degree doesn’t leave much room in the schedule for learning about the dying and death of patients. Regardless of her or his specialty, doctors are oriented toward healing, cures, and the next best options to try. It’s nearly impossible for many physicians to view hospice as anything other than a defeat. Who wants a doctor that will “give up” on you?

There are likely patients that secretly—or not so secretly—hope a family member will make decisions about hospice. Do you truly want the people who blindly love you, who want you to “live forever,” and who frequently don’t understand the medical situation (with its strange terminology and complex treatments) to make your decisions? It’s nearly impossible for certain family and friends to view hospice as anything other than a personal version of the “end of the world.” In presidential politics, we laugh (and are deadly serious) about which candidate we want at the Oval Office in the awful event of national or global catastrophe. Who, in any family, wants to trigger the “apocalypse” for a loved one? Read More →

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