Death-Hospice

Follow Up

To follow up on important topics from the last post in this series, please read the comments left by “Lula.” Remember that little black bubble at the end of each post?  fullsizeoutput_9edJust click the bubble on Death Decisions (Jan. 25, 2017) to read the important information she has shared with us. 

Lula shared interesting information about a service which sounds like a good idea for anyone, but especially those who travel often. I am not familiar with Living Will Registry, but you can read about Lula’s own experience as a frequent traveler (in her comments) as well as reviewing the service Online.*

One issue that Lula mentioned is Emergency Medical Services (EMS), when called to a home, will likely begin CardioPulmonary Resuscitation (CPR), even if one has a Do Not Resuscitate (DNR) order on a Living Will. I have always heard the same thing, but an official form** in this state (KY) is meant to address this problem. You should check with your own state, city and/or county for the law where you live. Regardless of one’s current health status it would be helpful to fully understand the guidelines before a need arises. It is understandable this is a potential for problems. The very fact EMS is called indicates an emergency and they come prepared to do what is necessary to save lives. If one has a terminal condition CPR is not likely an appropriate response, but it is unfair to expect emergency personnel to make that distinction or take that responsibility. 

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Hospice

Having Hospice involved in end-of-life care can often prevent such situations from occurring. Hospice is a national organization with local offices across the US, providing palliative care to patients facing advanced illnesses and to their families. Palliative care involves relieving pain and enhancing quality of life (as opposed to addressing a cause and/or cure) and may be provided in the home, special centers, extended care facilities or special units within an acute care hospital.

When Hospice care began gradually in the US, during the second half of the Twentieth Century,  there were specific parameters regarding how long a patient was expected to live in order to be admitted into palliative care. Although this is no longer the case, it is a lingering belief and can make it hard for families to approach the subject. I personally feel Hospice is extremely valuable in providing clinical, pastoral and grief support as well as practical assistance with medical supplies, equipment and even volunteer and respite care. Extensive information is available from National Hospice & Palliative Care Organization*** (NHPCO).

Possibly many of you used Hospice services for your family or maybe a close friend and I invite you to share your experience with us if you are comfortable doing so. I will share that in my experience with loved ones the service was not instituted soon enough. In one case, incredulously, it was not possible to get the physician to admit the patient was dying and by the time a referral was made the patient only lived a few hours. The other personal case was just the opposite. The physician recommended, even urged, Hospice service, but the patient wanted to wait a little longer, not realizing the time would approach as quickly as it, in fact, did. In each case the patient did not receive care that would have perhaps eased their passing. I painfully share this hoping it might prevent others from waiting too long. 


Websites referenced:

*Living Will Registry http://www.alwr.com

**KY DNR Form http://manuals.sp.chfs.ky.gov/Resources/sopFormsLibrary/Do%20Not%20Resuscitate%20Form.pdf

***NHPCO http://www.nhpco.org


Coming Up

We will look at Funeral and Burial Planning in the next post. I realize this may be a bit too pushy, but if you are so inclined how about working on writing your own Obituary before then? Then we will work together. Your participation is great and makes our experience together so much richer. Thank you!


“I find it delightful that the optimal way I can live my life from moment-to-moment is also the optimal way I can prepare for my death, and equally delightful that acknowledging our future death is a prerequisite for living a truly joyful life now.”  Ram Dass, Still Here

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The Landing

It is September and the summer to autumn metamorphosis has finally begun. While it will not officially be autumn until after this week-end, the long awaited relief from the five month, ninety-plus temperature marathon arrived yesterday. Unfortunately, I will not be in Kentucky for the first cooling breeze promised for tomorrow. As I ride through heavy rain to the airport I anticipate the hot humid Florida air at the end of the flight.

The Flight 

After an unexpected hour on the ground before takeoff from Louisville and the usual delays in Atlanta, I finally arrive, over an hour late, in Jacksonville. This is no big deal since I do not have anything scheduled until eight o-clock tomorrow morning. So why do I feel in such a hurry? It’s the traveling thing. It’s what I have done for the past eight years as I travel in my job. I rush. I act hurried and harried. If I am flying, I must be in a hurry, right?

The Crash

As I rush inside to rent a car, I reflect on a very satisfying day. Autumn is almost here. The staff back at the office is hanging in there while another person is recruited. I heard about my granddaughter’s first tooth. There was a very enjoyable lunch just prior to leaving for the airport. And, also, there is this great new dress that I am wearing. What a dress! Compliments all day long! Now don’t get me wrong, it was the dress that about a dozen people had complimented, not me. I am enjoying the dress’s compliments vicariously and thinking, “I FEEL GOOD!” (Hear James Brown now, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B1wOK9yGUYM). At that instant my heel turns violently and I am catapulted sideways, then forward, before gravity wins and I land with my body at several unlikely angles. I have crash landed in Jacksonville.

The Rescue

As four people run toward me they order me to not stand up, like I can! One retrieves a shoe as he passes it two traffic lanes away, a man coming from my left picks up my purse on the way and a woman brings along my bag which has skidded about six feet to the right. These three, plus a man wearing tennis shorts and with a lovely British accent, help me to a sitting position on the curb, while all are talking at once. Several American accents are noted and I find myself thinking about that, while at the same time, trying to assure everyone that I am really okay, because they seem to genuinely care. Why would they care so much? It must be the dress! Why are they not rushing on about their own business? Surely they are in a hurry. They are flying, aren’t they? Well, at least three of them are. One man is apparently a driver for a van of some sort. The others, who look like passengers, actually offer to give me a lift to my hotel. I am not even ready for a lift from the curb.

The airport police come from all directions in blue uniforms, some airport personnel in regular clothes too, and even the young woman from National, where I had just rented a car, comes out to sit by my side on the curb offering comfort. All appear so concerned that while I am quite sure that my ankle is broken, I really do not want to tell them. I want to be okay for them!

I start to joke about the situation and they pick up on it and we banter while waiting for the EMS. Sirens can be heard in the distance and I look up and see a large white truck with red lights flashing on top and when it pulls up, the words “U.S. Air Force” can be seen on the door. I ask if the EMS has to be Air Force because we are at an airport and the answer is lost in the sound of more sirens as a red fire truck comes into view. I assure them I am not in need of the Air Force nor am I on fire and ask them to please do whatever their policy requires for the report and let me go. I am, after all, in a hurry. The EMTs glance at my ankle and take my pedal pulse. By now the pulse of my foot has been taken by about eight people. I am not sure who all of them are and some had felt of the wrong foot, but I didn’t say anything, because what can it hurt?

At this point an officer asks for my driver’s license. When I remind him that I was not driving, he reminds me that he is fulfilling my request to complete the report to let me go. I hand over my license and think how glad I am that I did not have a cocktail on the plane. Can you imagine the report reading “Middle-aged WF smelling of ETOH falls off curb”? So, I imagine that instead it goes something like this, “Cooperative WF, wearing a great purple dress, turns ankle.”

I decline a ride to the hospital in the Air Force truck.  Some ice and an ace wrap would have been good, but that will come later at the emergency department. As I drive painfully away with muscles throbbing and flesh changing colors, a crowd of smiling well-wishers wave me out of sight. Where else, except in the south, could one have had such a pleasant experience?

Written September 18, 1991 and Edited for Blog September 2, 2016