Archive for Dying

What John Kennedy Said!

Kennedy speech

In this political season*, I recall President John Kennedy’s familiar, famous line from his inaugural: “Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.”

What about this version:

Ask not what your hospice can do for you, but ask what you can do for your hospice.

Now, wait just a New York minute . . .

Isn’t hospice supposed to do it all for you, as patient, as caregiver? Most hospice patients have spent a lifetime paying for Medicare. The nurses and other support staff on the hospice “team” are paid for, right? The medications for the terminal illness are covered in the hospice benefit, right? The equipment brought to your home—hospital-style bed, commode, oxygen, and more—are part of the deal, right?

Why should a caregiver or patient ask, What can I do for hospice?

What a crock!

Now that I’ve irked you, let me try to explain by briefly focusing on my ABCs of hospice care. Read More →

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Life Is a Death Sentence

One Door

I suppose some could describe hospice as choosing Door #1 or Door #1 or Door #1?

Hospice is a death sentence.

After all, any doctor that recommends hospice care will say—maybe bluntly, maybe hemming-and-hawing—there is likely six months or less __________.

  • A – To live
  • B – Until death

Isn’t choosing A’s “to live” a glass half-full answer? But don’t both really mean B? With few exceptions, no one leaves hospice care alive. Some joke about “graduating from hospice,” but how many of those jokesters return, sooner or later, to hear the same words: you have six months or less . . .?

I suppose some could describe hospice as choosing Door #1 or Door #1 or Door #1? In other words, a choice with no choice. Or perhaps, clinging to the oft-used justification for the mysteries of God’s ways, if a door closes, then a window will open? Except with hospice care, aren’t all the windows nailed shut?

Isn’t hospice care the worst thing possible when a physician suggests it?

Or do you think this . . . Read More →

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Morphine: the Misunderstood Medication

medication

My pain raged and roared. It only ebbed if I didn’t move. Which was impossible.

“They’re gonna give you morphine,” one of my companions said.

Another declared, “You’ll get addicted.”

Morphine? Really? Wasn’t that only in the movies? Wasn’t that nasty drug only as a last resort for the worst of the worst?

Whump-whump. Whump-whump.

We heard the whirling blades chopping the air before we spotted the helicopter angling between the mountain ridges. It was searching for a landing spot near where I lay by the circle of rocks from last night’s now cold campfire. At mid-day, several hours earlier, I had busted my leg while exploring the area with a group of kids from the church I then served. On a weekend backpack, we had found an inviting slope of snow—really more an ice field in that part of the summer—and decided to butt-slide down its tempting expanse. As the mature associate pastor, I went first. Read More →

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