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My Mom & Hospice

Submitted by: Doreen Bosse Streetman

My mom was bed bound when she died. She had broken her hip and did therapy, doing pretty good, but as she lost weight, it became harder for her to bear weight on her leg that had the hip surgery. Then over a period of about a month, her right arm began to become stiff and she began to hold it close to her upper chest. The doctor said she may have been having little strokes and that was expected.

I was told over and over my mom should be on Hospice, but in my eyes, I thought that Hospice would take away her feeding tube, (where I thought she would starve to death) and give her morphine, upping it slowly until it slowed down the organs until she died. They did that to my father-in-law and he died very quickly…..I needed more time with Mom and she was still pretty alert, looking around with little smiles here and there. And music, she loved Music. She sang opera, and even though she could not talk, she could hum and sing a little.

But when I met with Hospice, they said that they would gladly keep the feeding tube in, and we all flushed it every two to three hours so she would not get dehydrated. They told me it was my choice as to how much morphine we would give her. I knew her, I cared for her for 10 years before Hospice, and I knew what grimaces she would make to indicate pain. I started off slowly giving her pain medication a couple times a day in addition to her Vicodin and her anti-anxiety pills that were chopped very finely and put into her feeding tube with a syringe. Hospice was wonderful!!! I never thought I would find such compassion with them. They were a great organization and a great help to me and my family. Up until then, my husband provided most of the care for my mom. My daughters were so young, but came in to read to their grandma quite a lot.

But a sigh of relief came over me when I met Hospice, and saw how much care and kindness they gave my mom. They were very gentle when they bathed her, they put sweet smelling lotion on her,  her favorite. They changed the sheets and one girl even washed them for us. I had two different nurses come to see her two to three times a week. If I needed a nurse in the middle of the night, they came. They provided nurses aides three to four times a week to do the bathing, change bed sheets, and check to make sure all her oxygen and other machines were working. Being so fragile at the end, I could not bear to see my mom grimace when they turned her, and the nurses would give her pain shots. They did help and she would dose off into a sleep. She looked so peaceful resting.

The nurses aides would come and some read to her, sing with her, and give her manicures and pedicures. Hospice also ordered her medications for her from a home delivery pharmacy and we never had to leave our home to pick them up. They ordered her a high pressurized mattress that was to prevent bed sores, but unfortunately, she had developed two sores when she returned home from the hospital from her hip surgery. And when you have this disease, it takes longer to heal them. They sat me down and told me one day in September and told me that my mom did not have long. She was at the end, and for me to increase her morphine. I cried and I did not want to pump her full of more medicine. I wanted to hear her hum her music, and I didn’t want to let go, but I knew they were right. I did so, making her more comfortable.

On the day she died, I walked into her room, turned on her music, and sat with her. Her eyes were open a little bit and she was comfortable. The nurses had just been there, and it was just me and my mom and I really wanted her at peace. It was so very hard, but I held her hand and hummed with her, and stroked her hair. She had beautiful hair. She never opened her eyes again. I looked down at her arm that had been crouched up near her chest and it started to relax. I talked the whole time with her until her last breath. There was no pain anymore.

I write this not to be morbid or to scare anyone but I want people to know that Hospice is a good thing. For someone like me who was never comfortable with it, hospice proved to be extremely helpful for me. When I had help, I could sit in the kitchen and have a cup a coffee while my mom was cared for with loving hearts. Thank you for letting me share my story. God bless all of you who are caregivers. It is a hard thing to do, and it effects you emotionally and physically. But there is help. We all care about you here. You are not alone. There were only a few groups around when I cared for my mom. To these wonderful people sharing their stories: I admire you and bless you for all you have done and are doing for your loved ones. <3

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