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From Chaos to Calm - Decision Making in Time of Crisis

By Linda Thompson

(Page 2 of 3)

Fortunately, Mom has bounced back from this episode; but we both know the end is near. She’s now lucid. With a lot of help, she can get to a wheelchair and out of the bedroom. She’s eating, but getting weaker every day. She’s old, she’s worn out, she’s ready to go. She’s talked with me about what dress she wants to wear and how she wants her hair done. In other words, it’s time and I will honor her wishes. I have been blessed with her presence for over 10 years and it’s time to let her go on to the next stage of her journey. 

All of this has occurred partly because we had planned for it, and partly because I did not anticipate the roadblocks that were put before me. During the four hours of almost frantic phone calls and waiting for call-backs, I kept thinking about others in this same position and how frustrating, panicking and emotionally draining it must be for them. At least I had part of the puzzle in place. But no one told me what might happen when I tried to invoke care that was badly needed, but unobtainable. Her physician, or should I say former physician, couldn’t seem to grasp the concept of her being comatose in her bed, not wanting to go to a hospital – meaning a call to 911 was not an option – and was totally unwilling to offer assistance of any kind. I wasn’t prepared for a hospice agency to refuse care for any reason. In other words, I hadn’t completed my homework.

My passion for the past five years has been elder care education and, with this experience, I have even more information to share. The medical community needs to get a grip on what’s happening with our elder loved ones. They need to bend the rules a little, they need to learn how to spell “compassion” so they can look up its meaning. In other words, they need re-educating on the purpose of their profession. It is to help – not to hinder. Some hospice organizations need to educate their staff on the same thing – think out of the box a little and try to help someone in need. Not everyone wants to be hospitalized, kept alive artificially, and fed every pill available in the pharmacy. Not everyone wants to be drugged, in a strange place, being bothered by people they don’t know. In fact, I’d bet that a lot do not. What ever happened to personal dignity? Are we so afraid of the dreaded lawsuit that we can no longer help those in need without first checking the rule book?

I keep wondering what would have happened if this case had been of an elderly couple and one of them was trying to get help. Who would they have called? Would they have panicked, called 911, and started the process of quantity over quality? Times of emotional and mental crisis are not when we make sound, logical decisions that are in the best interest of our loved one. It is my sole purpose in life right now to ensure that my precious Mother passes with as much dignity as possible, in her own bed, in the comfort of her own home, with people who love her close at hand.


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