Tuesday, March 10, 2009


It was not a tough decision for us to choose Hospice Care. We really had no other option, the choice was made for us.

Mom had always liked Hospice and what they did. She had even once volunteered for them, doing some light office work. Although Dad, Joy, and I had some reservation, we knew it was the best thing for us to do. We knew they would help us with medical questions, guide us with the administration of medication, support us in caregiving in our home, and most importantly........be there with us in the end, to guide us through the death process.

We were only under Hopice care for about 6 weeks, as our time with Mom went fast. Although we had some minor problems, we were pretty satisfied with their services. Our assigned nurse started off coming to the house twice a week, but by the end she was coming every day to help and evaluate. They would ask us if we were ready for the 24-hour care, but we continued to say not yet. The 3 of us had been sharing the caregiving, and wanted to continue to do so as long as we were physically and emotionally able. It was not even until the last two days that we started to really consider it. On Mom's last day, we had a very serious talk with our nurse and our social worker about when to make the call, not knowing yet just how soon it would be. Mom had started the "coughing" and I even asked the nurse if that was the start of the Death Rattle we had heard and read about. She said no, not yet. We all knew time was short, but obviously could not pin point the day nor time. The nurse gave us her best guess of anywhere between 24 hours to 3 days. We still had a slight reservation to make the call that afternoon.
Then they informed us that we did not have to make such a tough decision right then at that monent. But that we could continue the day and make the call whenever we were ready, even in the middle of the night. They had special on-staff nurses that would be there for us in the end when we made the call, day or night. So, we felt confident with their information that someone could come at any moment when we did call and need them. We had no reason to believe otherwise.

You can imagine our shock of emotions we had when we did make the call, at about 10:00 pm that same night, ready for the extra support, and they had no one to send to us! We were told and also read that a person can be in the active dying phase for hours or a couple days, and the nurse had not even stated that Mom might already be in her active dying phase, just 7 hours prior. So, we still did not realize just how short of time we had. (nor had the nurse that day)

There was one nurse who would come and "evaluate" the situation, confirming wether extra care was needed or not and if the death process had begun, but she was NOT the 24-hour-care nurse, and she would not be staying. She only answered the calls and evaluated. So, yes, she came, and it was confirmed in seconds by the look on her face, before she even spoke, that Mom was clearly in the final death phase and time was extremely short, within only a couple hours. She quickly made the call back to the main office where they told her all the nurses were staffed out and there would be no one to send us at this time. You could see a slight hesitation in her voice when she hung up, knowing what she had to tell us next. She informed us that yes, Mom was actively dying and that no, there would be no nurse to send us. She had received another call and she would be leaving. Emotions were at an all-time high for us at this point, as Mom continued to gasp for every breath she was taking. Hospice would be leaving us alone with Mom to die, with no support, ABANDONED.

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