We lost a special patient last month. She’s a woman whose story and photos touched thousands of St. Louis Post-Dispatch readers. Jeanne Lampe’s story was told by writer Jim Doyle in an article that informed readers about hospice care.
Jeanne’s condition was emphysema. It made breathing difficult. She spent most of her final months of life hooked up to an oxygen tank. Her photo on the front page of the August 19, 2012 edition of the St. Louis Sunday Post-Dispatch showed Hope Hospice nurse Jason Winfrey monitoring her vital signs with a stethoscope. Her face, with her eyes closed and a breathing apparatus attached to her nostrils, had an expression of comfort.
Because one of the conditions of admission to hospice is an expectation that death will come in six months or less, some patients and family members feel that hospice speeds up the dying process. Jeanne was a Hope Hospice patient for more than six months, demonstrating that those life expectancy diagnoses are far from accurate.
Jeanne conveyed a wry wit when she spoke to Jim Doyle for his newspaper story. She told him, “When I’m ready to go, I want morphine and a margarita.”
Her sense of humor was intact, almost to the very end of her life. On Wednesday, October 31, Jason Winfrey came to the Hope Hospice office made up to look like the Frankenstein monster for Halloween. Wednesday is typically a day when Hope Hospice staffers have their weekly meeting and catch up on paperwork in the office. Winfrey made a special visit that day to Jeanne. He guessed correctly that she would howl with laughter when she saw him in costume.
She had a photo taken with Jason/Frankenstein standing by her bed and an expression of mock terror on her face. She quickly sent the photo to her relatives in New Jersey to provide a light moment in a grim week. They had just been through Hurricane Sandy.
Two weeks later, Jeanne Lampe died.
Jeanne was special to us at Hope Hospice because of her personality and her attitudes toward life and death. We also appreciate her readily talking to the Post-Dispatch about hospice care. She will be missed. Rest in Peace, Jeanne.