Thursday, July 30, 2009

Hospice: My mother's story

My mother suffered terribly, without remit despite Fentanyl patches and other powerful painkillers, for much of the last few years of her life. Crippled by arthritis to a near-helpless mass of suffering flesh, wheelchairbound, dependent on portable oyxgen, her hearing and eyesight failing, her hands barely functioning; in and out of hospitals for a succession of crises that never quite carried her off; dependent on dozens of pills a day to go on, she spoke openly and with increasing urgency of wanting to die. Her mind was as sharp as her body was enfeebled; she knew exactly what her circumstances were. My three siblings and I didn't want to lose her but respected her right to decide for herself, at age 89, after one last hospitalization, that she wanted no more lifesaving interventions, that it was time to turn to hospice for their help in easing her last weeks of life.

Hospice was wonderful. The people we dealt with were kind, understanding, well-versed in what was needed -- for the soon-to-be-bereaved living as much as the soon-to-die -- and swiftly arranged all that was necessary for Mom to be liberated from the hospital and brought back to the assisted living that had been her home for the last decade. There, in her suite filled with the furnishings and mementos of her life; with her family at her side; with her devoted friends among both residents and staff in the facility coming to express their love, she had 24-hour nursing and, at her will, at the times of her choosing, enough morphine to ease -- finally! -- the bulk of the pain that had tormented her for so long.

She lingered for two weeks, sinking slowly but peacefully into the last sleep from which she never awakened. It was a kind and merciful and gentle death. Up until the last day or so Mom was conscious, kept her wits, knew what was going on, and was comforted by it. She looked forward not with resignation but with relief to the fast-approaching final sleep. We who were left behind had our grief greatly eased by seeing how kindly and gently she was eased on her final journey, a journey that was her choice. Hospice made sure we also had whatever resources we needed to cope with our loss.

And now, for mere money, for their own obscene profit, heartless scum dare to take the good name of hospice and drag it through muck of their own making; to spit upon the manifest good that hospice does; to denigrate purely for their own sick and twisted propaganda the kind hearts and generous souls and devoted labors of those whose only crime is that they stand in the way of the insurance industry juggernaut. They are contemptible, and anyone who knows the truth and willingly goes along with their scaremongering is equally contemptible.

1 comment:

panicbean said...

I just read your diary on dkos and left a rather lengthy comment.

Just so you know, your diary was just what I needed tonight, as I have so many words in me, regarding Mom's death, that have never been spoken, much less written.

Bless you, and a huge thanks for putting yourself out there.