“But I felt discarded”


Hardin

“But I felt discarded”

This is part one of a series about Leola who enrolled in hospice when she was eighty-five years old. Leola lives alone in her apartment and is basically homebound. Her friend, Mary, shops, pays the bills, manages all her finances, and chauffeurs Leola to doctor and beauty shop appointments. She is practically Leola’s personal manager. Leola shared, “If God can put an angel on earth, Mary is one. She’s known me for forty years. She knows more about me than I do.”

Leola retired as a supervisor from the Franklin County Child Support Department. She reflected, “I loved my job. You try to bring people down to your level or take yourself down to theirs. And a friend will work twice as hard for you as an enemy.”

Leola is untamed, unconventional and unpredictable. She’ll definitely keep you on your toes. She explained, “I’ll tell you exactly what I think and how I feel.” Like a lot of people, Leola wasn’t initially receptive to the idea of hospice. She recounted: “Mary took me to the doctor’s office and the nurse told us that I didn’t have an appointment. I told her, ‘Yes I do, or I wouldn’t be here!’ Then the nurse said, ‘I thought I called and told you that the doctor had turned you over to hospice.’ And I told her, ‘No, you didn’t’. Mary was so mad that she went back a couple days later and asked the doctor, ‘Why did you do that to her?’ And he told her, ‘You’ll understand in the sweet by and by,’ just like in the song, but I felt discarded.”

Leola has been on hospice for four months now and I think she now understands why her doctor turned her over to hospice. Here’s Leola: “Before I got on hospice I was in real bad shape. My pain was so bad that I was considering suicide. But I believe suicide is the unforgiveable sin. I was on eleven prescription medications but I stopped taking them on my own because I would get them out and start crying. They weren’t doing me any good. I was getting worse. But you guys have me lined out now and I’m only on five medications. And you treat me like a human being. You give me choices. I would kiss your ass in the middle of Main Street for what you’ve done for me. I had given up and then you guys came in. I’m so blessed to have people around me who care about me.”

I’ll share a tamer testimonial from Norma’s daughter, Essie: “When mom’s doctor first mentioned hospice care we were apprehensive. I thought that it was only for cancer patients and for people who were imminently dying. And Mom worried that she would have to give up her PASSPORT caregiver she had been with for seven years. Boy, were we wrong! All our concerns were not an issue at all. Mom could remain in my home, keep her caregiver she was fond of and receive additional care from Hospice. Dr. Bonzo and our nurse, Garnet, found a happy balance between mom being sedated and managing mom’s pain. Dr. Bonzo recommended a medication we hadn’t tried before that allowed mom to still be able to function. The way it worked for us was awesome. We had a shower aide come to the house twice a week; Mom’s medications were delivered so that helped me out a lot. You can contact a nurse twenty-four hours a day if you need anything at all. And the Hospice Center is another wonderful part of it. It is a beautiful facility with wonderful staff; any patient can go there for a respite stay, which, let’s face it, as full time caregivers we all need a break from time to time. I can’t say enough wonderful things about Hospice. If you have a loved one who requires additional care you should really give hospice a look; gather all the information and enjoy the resources available. In my Mom’s words, ‘Hospice is a keeper.’”

Let’s face it, there’s no way to take the sting out of the word “Hospice”. When your physician walks into the room and tells you, “I’m sorry, but there’s nothing else we can do for you, so we are turning you over to hospice”, in the words of the song, “Live Like You Were Dying” (Tim McGraw), It can be “… a moment that stops you on a dime”. So, it’s understandable why people may feel “apprehensive” and “discarded”, when “turned over to hospice”. But when there’s nothing that can be done to cure an illness there’s usually a lot that can be done to help a person live the best they can, for as long as they can. Our hope for our hospice patients is that they will come to acceptance without resignation, continuing to live each day on purpose, with purpose, focusing on comfort and quality of life. And we do everything in on power to help them do so.

So if you, or someone you know has gotten “that kind of news” (Tim McGraw), I encourage you to heed Essie’s advice and “give hospice a look; gather all the information and enjoy the resources available.”

Loren Hardin is a hospice social worker at Southern Ohio Medical Center and can be reached at hardinl@somc.org or at 740-356-2525

Loren Hardin is a hospice social worker at Southern Ohio Medical Center and can be reached at hardinl@somc.org or at 740-356-2525