Archive for How Long To Live

Can I Give You A Hug?

On most days, her GPS will lie to her about directions at least once before she returns to the hospice office . . .

On most days, her GPS will lie to her about directions at least once before she returns to the hospice office . . .

I listen to her describe the drive into the foothills. The roads twist like curlicue ribbons on a Christmas gift. The addresses are inconsistent, with some numbers faded into invisibility on mailboxes and others haphazardly scrawled on the sides of fences. Every patient’s house can seem like a missing puzzle piece in the isolated foothills east of Fresno. On most days, her GPS will lie to her about directions at least once before she returns to the hospice office. She rarely has a chance for that lunch break she’s required to take. At one front door of a patient, who lives in mobile home with more rust than paint, she is welcomed like the Queen of Sheba. At the next stop, a 10,000-square-foot cabin on steroids built by wealthy retirees, she’s treated like a despised servant. Read More →

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Less Than A _____ To Live

persistence-of-memory-darker-dali-wallpaperIn the weekly review of our new patients, time contradictions are frequently part of their stories.

A nurse or social worker will include a variation of, “Just before he went to the hospital, his regular physician told him he had months to live.”

I immediately think . . . of course that’s what the doctor said, since Medicare regulations unambiguously state a person appropriate for hospice has six months or less to live.

My thought occurred in split seconds, and before I’m finished thinking it, the same nurse or social worker continues their summary with, “However, while our patient was in the hospital, his surgeon told him he had less than a week to live.”

Months to live . . . one doctor said.

Less than a week to live . . . another doctor said.

Isn’t there a gap in those two “predictions” as long as the season of summer, a time chasm that could be the difference between your best friend (who lives across the country) visiting you again or never again, or it means you might get personal business (credit card debts, letters to loved ones, quarterly taxes, a final trip to the ocean) all in order . . . or left in chaos? Read More →

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