Archive for Fears – Page 2

Remove Your Hospice Nametag!

no-nameAn admitting nurse from hospice meets with a family in the eldest daughter’s home. He is giving information and answering questions. Three of the four siblings occupy chairs in different parts of the living room. They listen to the nurse while thumbing through hospice pamphlets and glancing at forms that require signatures.

Only a handful of steps away in the “spare bedroom,” the fourth sibling—the youngest brother—sits with their father.

The father is dying.


The bedroom will likely be the final place the father lives after a long life of military service, marriage, career, raising kids, retirement, and burying his wife a few years before. From long-ago conversations, his adult children know that he “can’t stomach those damn hospitals” and will “die on the streets before being dragged into a hospital.” Since he can no longer safely be alone in his apartment, the siblings are honoring his hatred of hospitals by caring for him in the eldest daughter’s home.

One of the kids, a fifty-something community college administrator, clears her throat and says, “We don’t want our father to know you’re from hospice.” She gestures toward the nurse’s nametag, dangling around his neck on a blood red cloth lanyard. “Could you take your nametag off before you see him? And we also don’t want any of your staff to wear their tags.

No one speaks. The muffled sound of snoring is heard from the spare bedroom. Read More →

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I’m (not) Listening…

From* 2012's "The Descendants"

From* 2012’s “The Descendants”

It’s nearly impossible to hear and retain information about hospice care when a loved one enters into his or her final stages of life. Whether there’s a years-long struggle with heart disease or a cancer diagnosis and weeks to live, most have never considered hospice’s options and limits.

Of course they haven’t! But then they you have to . . .

And so, with honest conversations and tenderness, a family decides hospice is the best choice.

Or, staggered by panic and desperate to get a loved one out of the hospital, hospice seems like the awful but only possibility.

Regardless of how calm or frantic the decision-makers are, even the simplest explanations about hospice can seem like a foreign language. There will be assumptions and selective listening.

  • Hospice said a nurse would be here all the time!
  • I thought all the medications were free!
  • Aren’t there pills to make the pain vanish?
  • Hospice said Dad would sleep and not feel anything. But now he’s awake and agitated.
  • Mom can handle the pain and wanted to be alert for the grandkids. But now she’s drowsy.
  • My husband was told he could die at home. But now he can’t?
  • My sister was told she would not die at home. But now she will?

Read More →

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Bed Wars

hospitalbedNo one wants one.

No one likes them.

Some have cranks and levers, wobbly wheels, and are cumbersome to move or adjust.

Newer ones are more complex, have silent electric motors, links for computer cables, and (though pricey) lightweight metal alloy frames.

But who wants to lie in a hospital bed of any kind? Not for overnight, and certainly not for the rest of your life.

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.

Whenever the hospice clinical staff discusses current patients, it’s nearly inevitable that at least one patient has balked at shifting to a hospital bed.

Wouldn’t you refuse? Read More →

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