I became involved with my local hospice in Newburgh, NY after my wife, Minnie, was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer in the left lung and brain. Minnie’s daughters and I (I am also disabled and it was extremely difficult for me to take proper care of my Minnie) took care of Minnie for 1 1/2 weeks. The daughters would take turns during the day taking care of their mother. We always turned Minnie every two hours to prevent bed sores. Minnie had stopped eating; only once in a while having a few spoonfuls of food. It got to the point she wouldn’t take any meds except for pain. It became too hard for us to take care of her. We wanted her to die at home where she felt comfortable but she became unaware where she was. She still thought she was in the hospital even though she could see the TV and all her personal things around her.
We decided to have her live at the residence hospice. They were so wonderfull!!! We should have done it earlier .They treated her with respect, compassion, and love. They were always checking in on her to make sure she was comfortable and wasn’t in pain. If Minnie began to feel pain they would be right there with the morphine.
After a week her son celebrated his birthday at the hospice with his mother. The hospice chef prepared spaghetti for about 10 people and her daughters were even provided with a special wheel chair so Minnie could get some fresh air and see the beautiful grounds for the first and sadly, last time. She had a very happy day!! After that she began to go downhill fast.
She stopped eating, and then drinking, and began to sleep more and more. I decided to stay overnight because I had a bad feeling. They gave me a lounge chair next to Minnie’s bed and I was holding her hand. She briefly opened her eyes and hoarsely said, “I love you” and closed her eyes right away and was once asleep again. The next morning I went outside for a smoke and when I came back in the day nurse said she was going to call her daughters as it would be very soon. I hurried to Minnie’s room (well, like a turtle would with my walker) and sat next to her holding her hand. She died holding my hand…just the two of us.
I can’t say enough good things about hospice! They treated my Minnie so well and the rest of the family as well. They would come into the room to check on me also, making sure I was alright. They made Minnie’s last few weeks pain free and full of love. If I ever get real bad, I would like to go to die there also. It was a truly remarkable experience.
On Wednesday 27 November all ehospice editions will be running a series of articles in which different people will explain what palliative care means to them. You can read all the articles in this series from the other editions by clicking on the links in the related articles section.