Monday we enrolled my precious mother-in-law in Hospice.
She’s had cancer for a couple of years and until recently had managed well and relatively pain-free. We knew she was deteriorating because she’d been eating less and less, and lately only pureed or baby food. But if she could have quality of life (no pain) we could deal with the inevitable. However, in the past couple of weeks the pain began. Then it got worse. She’s visibly declined in the past week. On Sunday, while we were visiting, she asked, “Do you think it’s time to call Hospice?”
Her husband died last year and Hospice was involved for the last five months of his life. They were a God-send. Some people don’t understand the concept. They say it means we’re “giving up.” We’re not. We’re being realistic and opting for a comfortable end-of-life experience rather than doing anything to prolong life. We’re shifting the paradigm so health care comes to her instead of hauling her here there and yonder for doctors’ appointments and such. It allows her to stay in the comfort of her beloved home and avoid the travel and wait time associated with traditional care. She’s a retired oncology nurse. She knows the score and this is her decision. We have shown our highest respect for her by honoring and supporting her wishes.
In my opinion, Hospice is as much for the family as it is for the patient. When I volunteered for the organization, I was assigned to a patient but think I personally helped the families much more than I did my assignees. I’m not a medical person. There are medical people on the team — a doctor, a nurse, and a nurses aide — but there’s also a social worker, a chaplain, maybe a volunteer and whoever else is needed by the patient and the family. That’s what I love about Hospice. They are there to meet the needs of the patient and the family. They handle the “details” so we can focus on each other.
MIL lives about an hour away on an idyllic farm where Hubby and I were married ten years ago next month. She’s dearly loved by her church and community and will receive plenty of support from within. She has two sisters, one in in Alabama and one in Mississippi, who have committed to spending as much time as possible with her and her son in Arizona will be back and forth as needed. He has FEMLA time he can use. Of course we are here and she has a daughter here. She’d like to stay at the farm for as long as possible, and that’s our intent. FIL died there. It would be poetic if she could too.
MIL has a hard-wired DSL Internet connection and when I’m out there, I don’t bother with connectivity. All this to say, expect inconsistency in my blogging in the coming weeks. My writing time will be limited and blogging isn’t my only project. I’ve worked hard to maintain a reliable blogging schedule, but sometimes, damn it, life interferes. I’m not one to work out my issues on my blog (usually) so I try not to use it to vent or blow off steam. I don’t know, maybe I should…it might be more interesting.
I ask for your thoughts and prayers for my family, especially my mother-in-law, as we take it one breath at a time during this trying but oddly peaceful time.