Archive for Nurses

In Hospice, MAC Isn’t About Comfort Food

Mac & Cheese is comfort food, but sometimes . . .

While discussing a new admission, the hospice medical director reminded the patient’s nurse to get a mac.

The nurse immediately nodded. Complete agreement.

A mac? What did the doctor mean? They couldn’t mean a Macintosh computer from Apple, could they? That didn’t make sense. But thoughts of digital apples made me think about real food . . . did they mean Mac & Cheese? Though not a big fan of that packaged pasta and cheese, it is one of my wife’s favorite comfort foods.

My food wondering continued. What about a “Big Mac?” Could the doctor have been recommending a fast food burger? (When younger, I loved McDonald’s flagship burger. The Big Mac debuted, with fanfare and a high calorie count, around the time I started college. If I could scrape together a few extra quarters, I’d always go for the extra all-beef patty and special sauce!)

But we hospice professionals couldn’t have been talking meal deals . . . right?

Ever ignorant, I asked the doctor, “What is a ‘mac?’” Read More →

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Drugs, Doses, Dread & Delivery Options

pills

Around breakfast time, I usually shake out several pills into the palm of my hand . . .

The nurse arrived and sat beside my mother in the dimly lit hospital room.

One of the first things he said was, “This won’t hurt.”

He lied.

He was there to place a peripherally inserted central catheter (PICC, or “pick”) into Mom’s upper right arm. She’d been offered Dilaudid—a brand name for hydromorphone, a narcotic stronger than morphine—for pain management. The medication would be housed in a CADD pump (Computerized Ambulatory Drug Delivery) connected to her PICC line. The linked pump and the catheter would give a predetermined, regular amount of medication to ease her physical agony. A “button” could be pressed on the CADD pump for additional dosages.

Are your eyes glazing over with all the medicalese?

Mom’s body was riddled with cancer and the two surgeries undertaken to “relieve” discomfort had added complications. As I calmly write this three years after her death, I understand why she said “Yes” to that PICC line: she wanted the wrenching pain to end and she was ready to die.

But the nurse, who seemed rightly weary in the near midnight hour when he entered Mom’s room, first caused more pain.

He swabbed her arm with disinfectant and inserted a needle.

She grimaced.

I held her left hand. Watching her tore my heart apart. Read More →

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Hospice Strangers at Your Door

It's like a crowd headed your way . . .

It’s like a crowd headed your way . . .

In 1989’s Field of Dreams, Kevin Costner’s character famously heard, “If you build it, he will come.” If you haven’t seen the film, I won’t reveal the enigmatic “he” that eventually arrived at the baseball field built on an Iowa farm.

I usually recall the quote as “If you build it, they will come” . . . since crowds did gather at that heaven-like spot of the Midwest.

Field of Dreams was a sweet fantasy, but the reality of hospice means that many strangers will also arrive at your house. While hospice care happens away from a person’s residence, 58% (according to 2014 data) of all hospice patients remain in their homes and the “team” from hospice knocks on your front door. Part of hospice’s appeal is allowing people to continue living in the place they know best: home. For some families, that appeal is undermined by the flood of “strangers” from hospice phoning to make appointments and soon parking on your street.

If only it was one “he” that arrived at the busy “field” formally known as your lovely, quiet home!

First it may be the admitting nurse that visits. Maybe she or he actually came to the hospital, and they shared about the great things hospice will do. You heard hospice’s wonderful promise about the patient—your beloved—being able to return home. Where do you want to die? (Research I’ve read indicates 7 in 10 prefer home.) You may never see the admitting nurse again once you’ve agreed to hospice, but I hope it was a good experience. I hope she helped you understand the hospice benefits. I hope he was able to answer many of your pressing questions. Read More →

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