Seven years beyond his wife’s passing, a survivor recalls his experience with hospice. After grueling rounds of chemo, which were becoming less and less effective, but more and more painful, the wife chose to end aggressive treatment.
At the time, he and his wife knew little about hospice except what her oncologist shared when the doctor first mentioned hospice. The oncologist arranged for the initial hospice visit to the couple’s home. “I couldn’t believe it,” the husband said, when the hospice rep explained that Medicare would cover all costs.
Shortly thereafter, twice-weekly hospice visits began. The hospice nurse would monitor the wife’s blood pressure, weight and other vital signs. The visits, including conversations about patient comfort, generally lasted about an hour. The nurse delivered all medications to control his wife’s pain. “She never really had any real pain, thanks to the hospice,” recalls the husband.
The hospice’s chaplain called and offered his services. The husband and wife agreed that the pastor from their church could provide spiritual support. They thanked the chaplain for his concern, but declined his services.
“The nurse that called on (my wife) seemed to be kind of a therapist and a nurse. She knew how to comfort her socially and how to comfort her physically. She sat down and she was a pal to her. There was a lot of companionship there. She (the nurse) was a special lady.” The husband says, “The nurse was super smart about the right medications. They took care of all that stuff.”
“The nurse brought adult diapers because sometimes (my wife’s) control was not always that good,” he recalled.
The director of the hospice came by occasionally to monitor situation. She asked the husband, “How are you doing?” The husband said, “Pretty good, but sometimes I could use more help.” She said, “We can offer additional nurse visits.”
What did the hospice do following his wife’s passing? “After she died, they came for a follow-up interview to see if there was anything I needed, to make me comfortable, “ the husband remembers.
The husband told the hospice director, “I read the Bible and I believe in angels. I never recognized anybody as an angel until I met your people.”
The true story related above is based on an interview conducted with a surviving husband in Alabama. The hospice agency referred to is based in Birmingham.