Gov. Gretchen Whitmer addressed the State of Michigan after a plan to kidnap her and other Michigan government officials was thwarted by state and federal law enforcement agencies. She started by saying thank you to law enforcement and FBI agents who participated in stopping this [...]
By Jody Valley
Hospice is a life saver
Q: This is so hard for me to write, in fact, I’ve been working on this for three days. My partner, “Dana” is very ill. She is in the hospital and she will not get better. Dana has been ill for quite some time. She and I have both been very aware of the fact that she would just get worse. We talked about it, and she said that when the time came, she didn’t want to hang on, she wanted to be let go. It has been hard for me to accept the fact that the time has come. She is very weak and not able to communicate much, anymore. What I don’t like is that she is hooked up to stuff that is keeping her alive and in misery.
Jody, it is very hard for me to let her go, but I do think it is time. Dana has an adult child who lives in another city and has visited, but isn’t here to see this, day in and day out. I talk with her son and let him know what’s going on. He has come to visit her several times in the last three months, and I talk to him regularly. My problem is that he wants to keep her alive as long as possible through these artificial means. Believe me, I understand this. Somehow, as long as she’s alive, it seems we still have her. But, this is not the way she wants it to be, and it is not pretty.
I have all the paperwork to have this stuff disconnected, and the doctors and nurses will do it, if I insist. But, I hate going against her son’s wishes. I also hate to see her in this cold sterile hospital room. I’ve been told that I could take her home and get Hospice involved. I’ve not heard much about them, but it sure sounds good. If I thought they were the answer, I would do it, but I don’t know. Have you heard anything about Hospice? Do you think I should go against her son’s wishes and keep her alive at any costs?
A: Last December, I extricated my mother from the medical profession and hospital that wanted to keep her alive with tubes of medication and food, as well as physical therapy for an 86 year old woman who had wasted away to at least 15 less pounds than the years she had lived. Even my step-dad, who is a retired physician, was upset about bringing her home, hoping for an impossible medical miracle. I assured my step-dad that she would have nurses, and just because I was getting Hospice involved, she didn’t have to die, if there was truly life still to be lived. I knew that Mom wanted to die. She had told me this on several occasions; she had suffered for so long, was terribly weak, and had nothing to look forward to. She didn’t want to tell my step-dad that she was ready to die, “He would get so upset, if I told him,” she would tell me.
We set up a hospital bed in the family room so she could be close to my step-dad, in his favorite chair. They could be together there, as they had been so often. He could still talk to her, though she had little left to say to anyone, but I could still see love in her eyes. I knew I was doing the right thing; it was what she wanted me to do. My partner, step-dad and I could hold her hand, kiss her, and care for her needs. The Hospice nurses and staff came to help me care for her, and kept her comfortable and out of pain. We placed her bed so that she could see the flowers, birds, and sun out of the big window.
I spent my birthday in that room, with all of them. My step-dad and I watched a football game, ordered in pizza, had a few beers and yelled for our team. (My partner sat nearby reading, as she always does when I watch games.) By this time, Mom no longer looked out the window. She had fallen into a deep, peaceful sleep; a comaÑthe medical profession would say. I know she heard us yelling at bad passes, dropped balls, and touchdown catches. She had listened to that for years with us. She’d even get the beer and nuts for us so we wouldn’t miss a play. I know that it made her happy to be with me on my birthday and hear us all together.
The next day she stopped breathing. We were holding her hands as she left and traveled somewhere else. It was as beautiful as it was sad.
I wouldn’t change that time for anything. It horrifies me to even imagine having left her in that hospital with all those tubes sticking out from her emaciated little body; her tiny, thin-skinned, needle-pricked, bruised arms that begged not to be invaded one more time by dutiful staff; and, well-meaning, medically-ordered hospital workers trying to get Mom back up on her feet, not acknowledging her frail, worn out body with feet that had traveled far enoughÑat least, for this time around.
I hope that you and Dana’s son can give Dana that final gift. I felt that Hospice made that possible for us. They were wonderful!