Archive for Decisions

What Would You Choose?


They couldn’t imagine being with anyone else.

We shook hands as I entered his home.

“Went to see the doctor yesterday,” he said.

Which I knew. This was years ago and he had told me the prior Sunday at church that he was going to see a recommended physician. An oncologist. As his pastor, I was visiting to see how things had gone, and to provide support.

“The doc was an okay guy. Didn’t ya think so, honey?”

Honey was his seventy-something significant other. Both had been married before. Both had gone through the deaths of spouses they loved. Both had told me, when I arrived a year before as their new minister, that they were sorry they weren’t legally hitched, but getting married might mean losing some retirement benefits. They couldn’t imagine being with anyone else.

“We just shack-up together,” he had said with a shrug and grin. She—his honey—rolled her eyes.

He had been in combat in Korea. Didn’t talk about it. She loved to chat about her grandkids. They owned a tidy modular home in a retirement “village,” pinched their proverbial pennies, and clearly adored each other.

Now he had cancer.

“Got me a little issue with bad tissue,” he joked.

In their cramped kitchen area, with a view of the vegetable garden she tended, he told me what kind of cancer it was, and then what the oncologist had explained. Read More →

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Let Me (Not) Give You Some Advice


Giving advice starts early!

I resist giving advice.

I relish giving advice.

Both statements are true.

Obviously, I spend considerable time with advice-giving by posting regular essays about hospice. I want those considering hospice (for themselves or others) to have resources during this crucial time. I want to offer suggestions—through questions, concerns, insights—for families currently served by hospice. Whether wondering about odd medical terms or nudging people to be honest about dying and death, I hope my views (advice!) help a few readers.

But advice is inherently tricky. What works for me may not work for you. At times I’ve asked friends if they’d like my advice about a situation they are facing. If they nod assent, I respond with, “Don’t trust anyone else’s advice but yours.” We laugh. We roll our eyes. It’s a joke! However, it also rings true. Follow your heart. Take the time to listen to your inner voice. If you are a person of faith, pray . . . and then be open to the ways the Holy provides guidance. Carefully seek input from trusted family members, friends, and professionals. Cautiously use the Internet with its smorgasbord of bad/good, weird/wonderful, fickle/fact-filled viewpoints. (Which includes my website on advice about hospice!) Read More →

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The Wonder Pills

Hospice is one of the rare times when all the medical professionals involved in caring for a patient are on the same page.

I wonder how this relates to medications.

Prior to hospice care, it’s not unusual for one doctor to prescribe a pill for your cranky prostate and another doctor to make sure you’re taking a blood thinner and a third doctor to suggest an antidepressant. You, the thoughtful patient, will mention the various pills you’re taking to each physician. If a new doctor claims that a new “wonder drug” is worth trying, you will also tell him or her about the other medications. The doctor(s) will assure you that everything is compatible. The nurse(s) are also reassuring when you worry about your growing list of pills, tablet and doses. The pharmacist(s), of course, will add insights.

So many voices! So many pills!

Nowadays, as we grapple with the illnesses that come with the accumulation of birthdays, our medicine cabinets can become chock-full of prescription bottles. We want to feel better. Take that pill. We want to return to what we once felt like. Try this pill. Grace Slick of the long-ago ‘60s rock band Jefferson Airplane, famously sang . . .

One pill makes you larger
And one pill makes you small
And the ones that mother gives you
Don’t do anything at all
Go ask Alice, when she’s ten feet tall… Read More →

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