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From Chaos to Calm - Decision Making in Time of Crisis

By Linda Thompson

(Page 1 of 3)

During the last five years, Iíve given workshops and lectures about life planning across Phoenix. And while I say it isnít all about death and dying, thatís certainly a part of it. Even though I thought I had all of my ducks in a row, this is the latest chapter in a very long learning curve. In 1994, my then 79-year-old mother came to live with me. Weíve always had an easy, open way of communicating both the important and unimportant. We are planners; we like everything organized and in order.

Right after the death of my father in 1969, Mom purchased a funeral plan that matched exactly what we had done for her soul mate. At that time, a dollar bought a whole lot more and for the large sum of $1,900; she paid for this plan over a period of 18 months. Although sheís now in Phoenix with me, it is and always has been her wish to return to Denver to rest beside Dad. A few years ago, she wanted to make sure everything was in place for what was to come. We met with a local mortuary and found that there were some things that we were still missing to make a complete plan. For an additional $5,000, those things were taken care of. All I have to do now is pay for transport back to Denver when the time comes. But the real shocker of the meeting was when the mortuary representative told us her $6,900 investment was now worth approximately $26,000.

Over the last couple of months, Mom has had a few mini-strokes. Although the residual effects are slight, each one gets a bit worse. Last week, Mom had another one and was comatose for three days. I thought I knew what to do, but I was in for the surprise of my life. A friend told me I had to contact Momís primary care physician to get orders for hospice care. When I called her doctor, I was told that since she had not seen my mother for six months, she could not diagnose her as terminal; therefore, she would not issue hospice orders. Wow, the first roadblock. I then called one of the largest hospice organizations in Phoenix, only to be told that they couldnít help me without her doctorís orders. Another roadblock.  

Okay, here I am, at home alone with a comatose mother Ė what do I do? For the past four years, I have worked with the most marvelous non-medical home care group I could find. After one phone call and within two hours, I had a Visiting Angel here to help with Mom and stay with her while I was on the phone. Thank heaven for my Angels. They also gave me the name of a local hospice physician who, when I talked with him, told me to call Hospice of Arizona and they would take the case. Within another two hours, an assessment nurse was at my door. During the course of the day, we invoked Powers of Attorney, issued DNR orders in accordance with Momís written wishes, another nurse brought supplies, and appointments were set for a social worker and spiritual counselor to visit later. What a turnaround. From chaos to calm, all because someone knew the right people to contact. Obviously, my plan was missing a few pieces.


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