I spent another week with my parents last week. My dad had been having trouble with fevers. With each fever, he would become confused and weak, and so his assisted living home would send him to the ER. Each time, the ER would do multiple tests, always finding nothing. Everyone was getting frustrated, so it was time for me to go back for another visit.
I got a lot done last week, working on their apartment, organizing and hanging pictures on their walls. I made some phone calls and had some meetings that could only be done in person, while I was in town. I went to doctor appointments with both Mom and Dad.
On Thursday night, Dad ended up in the ER again. I met the ambulance there, determined to get answers.
We got no answers. What we got was a lot of tests and a doctor that I cannot describe using family friendly terms. *ahem* By 2:00 am, the doctor wanted to keep Dad in the hospital to do a kidney and belly CT, “just in case.” I asked Dad what he wanted.
He said, “I want to go home, to my bed, and the next time I have a fever, I want to ignore it. I don’t want to be in the hospital anymore.”
So I took him home.
The next morning I sat with the head RN at their assisted living facility. She said, “I’m going to suggest something to you, and I don’t want you to panic. I think we need to get your dad on hospice.” I didn’t panic. I sighed a sigh of RELIEF. Hospice was the answer we’d been looking for. Together, we had come to a conclusion that what was probably happening to my dad was COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disorder) flare ups, causing the fever. At each ER visit, Dad would be given Tylenol for his fever and a nebulizer treatment for his breathing, and he’d feel better. Wash, rinse, repeat. When Dad told us he wanted to stop going to the hospital and ER, hospice was our answer.
Most people have this reaction when I tell them Dad is on hospice: “Oh! No! I’m so sorry.” NO. That’s not how we feel AT ALL. For my dad, hospice does not mean he’s going to die in the next couple weeks. Hospice for him means that he doesn’t have to ride in cold ambulances in the middle of the night anymore. He doesn’t have to be separated from my mom. He doesn’t have to be put through a lot of unnecessary tests. With hospice, he will be taken care of right in his apartment, right with Mom, and he will be comfortable.
My dad is 80 years old. He’s lived a long life. At this point, we are looking at him having a quality life, rather than looking at the quantity of his life. If him having a good quality life means that his life be a little shorter, so be it. He deserves to be comfortable and happy.
And happy he is. Hospice provided him with not only the necessary oxygen equipment for his COPD, but also provided him with a lift chair, since he was having trouble getting up out of his old chair. I call his new chair his “throne.” He is happy and content, knowing that he gets to stay in his apartment that he loves, eating the food he enjoys, next to the wife that he loves. That makes me happy and content.
I will be forever grateful to hospice for the care they are giving to my dad. It enables to me to be home, here with my family, working at the job that I love. It gives me peace, knowing he is loved and taken care of. It is a blessing.
It’s not a bad thing.