Saying Goodbye, Part 3: The Danger of Wishful Thinking

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Lines Hold the Memories” by Silvia Pelissero

Sunday morning arrived, and my father was still silent. despite his increased strength the day before, he began to show subtle signs of decline. He needed more time and help moving from the bed. His ate less, and had more difficulty drinking. because of this he was unable to take most of his medications.

A Hospice nurse came by to take my dad’s vitals and give us some suggestions of how to help my father with these new challenges. Now, I was a bit surprised to hear that Hospice was providing services for my father. I know Hospice provides end of life support, but, my father wasn’t at the end of his life. He was just diagnosed with dementia and, and had a UTI which caused delirium. The UTI and delirium are treatable, so what is Hospice doing here?

My sister (who lives with, and cares for, our dad) informed me that my father’s primary care physician connected her with home support services to care for my dad and his growing needs. These support services provided the hospital bed, bedding, bathroom modification supplies, nurse visits, bathing, and 24/7 access to a nurse. This made sense to me because one person can only do so much. Since my father’s primary care physician connected my sister with home support to care fro my dad, and this support showed up as Hospice, I assumed that Hospice also provided support care in addition to support fro end of life. If this sounds confusing and illogical, that’s because it is.

That night my father began to cough. His cough became louder and gurgled as the night went on, so we called the nurse who provided a machine to help suction my father’s phlegm. Although it helped some, the cough continued throughout the night.

Without much food, hydration, or medication, I began to worry and mentioned taking him to the emergency room. After talking with my sister’s we decided to se if he got better in the morning, and if not, then we would take him to the ER. Our hope turned to wishful thinking.

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