When my husband was in the last stage of Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis, with no hope for a cure, we settled him in our den, next to the TV where he could watch his beloved Cubbies play ball, in the company of his loved ones and devoted Black Lab.
During those final weeks, as he became weaker and weaker, we faced each day as a gift and marveled at the sunshine, fall flowers, changing leaves and the contentment we knew as a happy family.
We kept up the illusion that we still had more time. Then one day the nurse who had come to our home, and was being paid for by Medicare, suggested we invite Hospice, which also would be paid by Medicare, to come in and talk with us.
I was terrified. “Does that mean it’s over?” I asked.
“Oh, no,” she answered. “Hospice can give comfort and care for several months, even a year or more, if necessary.”
I couldn’t believe Medicare would provide that length of hospice care, and we were very grateful. The hospice people told us about end-of-life directives, and my husband and I decided that we did not want any life-prolonging measures, just quality-of-life measures. Hospice offered me a red sign to place on the refrigerator that said, “Do Not Call 911.” That’s because any responding emergency crew would be required to take the patient to a hospital.
Then one day, when we needed to increase my husband’s oxygen tank to the highest level, we called our primary doctor and asked him to give that permission. He responded, gently, “Don’t you want to bring him into the hospital so we can try and reverse this condition?”
“No, Doctor,” I answered. “We all agreed that since there is no way to reverse this condition, we aren’t going put him through that.”
The doctor signed the necessary papers to increase oxygen at home.
About a week later, my husband died without fear, pain or suffering because he was surrounded by a very professional hospice nurse and family members who held his hands, kissed him and assured him that there was nothing to fear and he was safe.
I hope I have the same options when it’s my time to die. I’ve given directions and signed a living will and power of attorney to help that happen.
Sandra Pesmen is host of www.widowslist.com.Tags: belongings, funerals, money, grief, hope